19 Apr 2022

Changing My Skincare Routine: Healing My Damaged Skin Barrier

I've been blogging about skincare for SEVEN years now, which I still can't quite believe! I've never claimed to be a skincare expert, it simply is a passion. But my latest realisation (and reason why I'm writing this blog post) really has made me realise how little I know about skincare, despite using hundreds of products over the years. I love sharing new products, tip and things I have learnt over here so I thought that this type of post would be helpful to others too.

My skincare journey has been somewhat of a rollercoaster. Recently, I've really been thinking about my skincare routine and 'lifestyle'. I have a lot of skincare products, try a lot of products and love a lot of them too. But that has to stop. Firstly, it's not sustainable (for me or my bank account!). Secondly, and the main reason, is due to overusing products which causes your skin barrier to deteriorate. I've realised that the skin issues I've been experiencing are due to skin barrier damage over the years.

My Skin History
I've always suffered with eczema as a child and it was mostly on my body. It was only until the past 4 or 5 years where it's spread onto my face and become a real problem. Ever since it started, it's been appearing on and off, going from bad to worse. I've been trying to manage it in many ways including allergy tests, changing my diet, various medications - some of which have worked short term but not much long term. I've come to the conclusion that my eczema is mostly stress related but the fact that it started in the first place and continues to flare up is due to a broken skin barrier.

What Is Your Skin Barrier?
So your skin barrier is the outer later of your skin. It protects your skin from a lot and essentially is a shield. The shield helps prevent environmental stresses from reaching your skin and causing damage. It also helps to reduce irritation and inflammation whilst retaining moisture.

How Do You Know If Your Skin Barrier Is Damaged?
If you experience any of the following, it could be a sign that your skin barrier is damaged:
  • Rosacea and eczema
  • Chronic skin irritation
  • Itchy skin
  • Dehydrated and dull skin
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Skin infections
  • Delayed wound healing
I was reading a post on Instagram and it listed all of the symptoms of skin barrier damage and what causes it. I was ticking a lot of the boxes. It very quickly made me realise why I've reached this stage.

Why Do I Think My Skin Barrier Is Damaged?
Like I said, I was ticking a lot of the boxes: eczema, rosacea (mostly during my pregnancy), itchy skin, dehydrated skin, dull skin and hyperpigmentation. All of these things I've experienced over the years or currently dealing with.

During my research on skin barrier damage and causes, I noticed one of the things that kept coming up: overusing products.

Like I mentioned at the start of this post, I've been blogging about skincare for almost 7 years. I loved trying new products and sharing my thoughts online, so naturally I went through so many different types of products. I am very lucky enough to get sent products through PR and began building up a bit of a collection. When it came to doing my skincare every morning and evening, I would use a different product every day. It was rare for me to stick with the same exact skincare routine for more than a couple of days simply because I had choices and wanted to switch things up.

By doing so, it has caused my skin barrier to be compromised. The skin has been damaged due to product overuse, which has probably flared up my eczema and other skin issues I've been experiencing. 

How To Heal A Damaged Skin Barrier
During my research, I've read that your skin can be healed if the damage hasn't been taken too far. It can take a while, maybe a couple of months, so it's important to stick with it and be consistent. So here is what I'm doing to heal my skin barrier:
  • Simple skincare routine
  • Not trying new products every week
  • Not over-exfoliating
  • Treat the skin (using ceramides for dry skin etc)

The Takeaways
In all my years of dealing with dermatologists and doctors regarding my skin concerns, I've never heard one of them mention a damaged skin barrier. The causes for my eczema were unexplained and I always put it down to stress. Stress does break down your skin barrier too, so it's important to control emotions and feelings as much as you can.

I still do love trying skincare products and it doesn't mean I can't do that anymore, it just means I need to be more smart about it. Introducing products into my routine slowly, ensuring I don't add too many extra steps and making sure I continue to use that product rather than switching it out a lot (unless it's a treatment). One of the most relatable things I heard from a facialist recently is: if you have a cupboard full of skincare and your skin is still not improving, they aren't working. I need to remember that.

My final takeaway is to continue to educate myself. There's so much I still don't know about skincare and skin in general. I still have so much to learn and my learning, I'm hoping it improves my skin. I've been following my new and improved skincare routine for 3 weeks now and I already notice a difference. I'm hoping to share the products and regime here on the blog soon!


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