One of the root causes of many skin issues is a damaged skin barrier. Often, repairing the damaged skin can alleviate a multitude of inflammatory conditions, such as acne and eczema.
Hyaluronic acid is an effective humectant that can significantly improve and repair the skin barrier in just a few weeks.
While there are many ingredients that can contribute to the moisture of your skin, there are a few staple ingredients that should always be part of your skincare routine. One of these ingredients include hyaluronic acid. The great things about hyaluronic acid are that it is easy to apply, has low irritation, has phenomenal moisturizing properties, and is easily found in dozens of skincare products.
Let’s dive into the logistics involving whether you can even repair the skin barrier, how long it takes, and how we can incorporate hyaluronic acid to do the work for us.
Can You Repair a Damaged Skin Barrier?
First off, we have to understand what constitutes a damaged skin barrier. To sum it up simply, a damaged skin barrier involves skin that is dehydrated, itchy, dull, irritated, and/or burns frequently after face washing. These symptoms can arise from stress, lack of sleep, a poor skincare routine, and poor nutrition.
The skin is the body’s largest organ, and can effectively repair itself once it is provided with the right ingredients and healthy habits.
By incorporating nutritionally rich foods, such as foods that contain antioxidants, the body is able to fight against inflammation and infection.
When it comes to your skincare routine, focusing on gentle products, minimal ingredients, and lots and lots of moisture can actually change the way your cells behave. By doing so, you can increase the moisture content in the skin and repair the skin barrier over the course of just a few weeks.
The skin will become brighter, healthier, more moisturized, and better able to resist acne infections and eczema flare ups.
And there isn’t just one way to do this. There are so many amazing ingredients that you can incorporate into your routine to repair the skin’s barrier. I have created a list of ingredients and ways that you can start right now to begin improving your skin’s moisture barrier and significantly improve your skin’s health. You can find that list by clicking here and begin implementing these immediately.
How Long Does It Take To Repair?
Every few weeks, the skin goes through a full cycle that involves creating skin cells all the way up to the shedding of those same cells. We call this process cell turnover.
It occurs when the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) regenerates itself through a multi-step process to ensure new, healthy skin cells are in constant rotation. This is done to ensure the skin remains an effective barrier to the outside world, and can effectively fight against pollution, environmental stressors, and other issues that it may face on a daily basis.
New cells undergo cell division a few times before differentiating (changing) into keratinocytes. These are the cells that make up the outer layer of the skin. Once the beginning cells have specialized into other cells, they eventually move to the outer surface of the skin and shed.
This process takes 40-56 days from start to finish. Therefore, it is safe to assume that repairing a damaged skin barrier will take between 6 to 8 weeks to see major differences in the overall health of the skin.
How Does Hyaluronic Acid Repair The Skin Barrier?
The major factor that contributes to a healthy skin barrier is water content. The skin needs a substantial amount of water to function properly. Each cell is largely made up of water, and this facilitates biological processes such as cell differentiation and cell turnover.
It also makes the structure of the skin cells stronger, more cohesive, and better able to fight off infections. In order to maintain the water balance in the skin, the skin needs to be provided with adequate water, both internally and externally.
Hyaluronic acid is known as a humectant. This is an ingredient that holds onto a large volume of water. When applied to the skin, it can trap water in the skin, allowing the cells to become moisturized. It also stabilizes the structures present in the skin. In doing so, hyaluronic acid can retain water and repair damaged, dehydrated skin cells.
Studies have shown that damage to the skin leads to an increase in hyaluronic acid production, which shows how important it is in playing a role in wound healing.
In addition, hyaluronic acid has been shown to stimulate collagen and elastin production. These are both substances that contribute to the health of the skin and its ability to fight aging and dehydration.
By increasing water content in the skin, speeding up wound healing, and stimulating collagen, hyaluronic acid effectively repairs the skin barrier.
However, you have to use hyaluronic acid properly in order to gain these benefits to the skin. Simply applying a hyaluronic acid containing skincare product will not repair the skin barrier unless you use it properly. Follow the steps outlined below to ensure you are getting the most out of this humectant.
How To Effectively Incorporate Hyaluronic Acid Into Your Routine
There are a few extremely important tricks that you must follow in order to repair your skin barrier. Skipping either one of them can result in more dehydration or simply no improvement in the health of your skin.
Find a Hyaluronic Acid Serum Without Active Ingredients
1. It is best to use a stand alone hyaluronic acid serum in your routine. Look for a serum that contains hyaluronic acid and filler ingredients. Filler ingredients include non-active ingredients like water, glycerin, and preservatives. You don’t want any active ingredients (such as glycolic acid or lactic acid) in your serum. The reason for this is so that we can effectively add it to our routine without risking more dehydration from these active ingredients. Active ingredients contribute to cell turnover. If you do want to incorporate active ingredients in your routine, I have a great post comparing two gentle chemical exfoliators (salicylic and mandelic acid) that you can read about here.
Apply To Damp Skin
2. Once you have found a serum that contains hyaluronic acid, you want to apply this serum immediately after washing your face, on damp skin. This is so incredibly important. Do not dry your face after washing your cleanser off. Leave any water on your skin, and then apply your hyaluronic acid serum. It will feel weird at first. However, this is an important step because the hyaluronic acid will immediately bind to these water molecules and retain water in the skin.
Apply a Moisturizer Afterwards
3. This step is also vital. While applying hyaluronic acid to damp skin will ensure that the water on your skin remains retained in your skin, you must also apply a heavier moisturizer on afterwards, otherwise all the water will simply evaporate into the air. You need to trap this water and keep it in your skin by applying a thicker cream on top that will reduce transepidermal water loss, which is the loss of water content from the skin. I have found that applying an occlusive moisturizer on top of this serum really traps water into the skin. The most effective occlusive ingredients are put together in this post.
Following these steps will ensure that you are effectively using hyaluronic acid in your routine. After incorporating these steps into your skincare routine, you can expect to see significant improvements in the health of your skin’s barrier in as little as two months.