Improving Barrier Function

Emblem for Skin Support Part 6 - Improving Barrier Function

The focus of this module is on the skin’s delicate environment and how to improve/sustain proper skin barrier function.

The Importance of a Competent Barrier

The skin barrier (outermost layer of the skin, also known as the stratum corneum) is breached on a regular basis and the skin’s ability to efficiently repair the barrier is an essential component of healthy skin.

Unfortunately, individuals affected by various inflammatory skin conditions (such as seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and rosacea) are known to have significant defects in this important process [1, 2].

In the case of seborrheic dermatitis, most popular treatment approaches primarily focus on microbial/fungal reduction (anti-fungals and antibiotics) or immune response suppression (corticosteroids). However, perhaps focusing on restoration of the skin barrier may hold the most potential; as this approach may eliminate the need for treatments that technically focus on issues that occur only after initial barrier compromise.

Last module’s objectives actually focused on the outer most layer of the skin barrier (the acid mantel). In this module module we’re going a little deeper and the focus is on improvement of various other components of adequate skin barrier function.

Expected Outcomes

Maintaining adequate barrier function can lead to:

  • Improved microbial resistance
  • Reduced levels of local inflammation
  • Reduced microbial/fungal (malassezia) activity
  • Improved skin barrier function and stability
  • Improved sebum production and composition

Additional Information

Understanding the skin barrier and finding ways to directly improve it’s function can bring quick improvements and can be highly rewarding.

Ideas to Improve Barrier Function

Factors to Consider

Example Daily Checklist

  • Only use topical solutions that respect or improve the skin barrier
  • Avoid focusing on your skin (mirror time, visual inspection and mental focus)
  • Introduce cold water rinse and/or cold water baths
  • Stick to topicals that respect the skin’s optimal pH
    If you use topical solutions that are either too acidic or two alkaline, the skin must work hard to restore balance. Sticking to solutions that have a similar pH to health skin, can drastically reduce the chances of barrier disruption.
  • Spray skin with plain carbonated water post washing
    Carbon dioxide is used to produce the bubbles found in carbonated water and it’s presence causes the water to become slightly acidic. Studies have shown that topical application can help improve barrier function.

Ending Remarks

This is one of the final modules of the program. The next module is going to wrap things up and highlight some of the most important objectives covered throughout the program.


  1. Julia A Segre "Epidermal barrier formation and recovery in skin disorders." The Journal of clinical investigation 116.5 (2006): 1150-8. PubMed
  2. James R Schwartz, Andrew G Messenger, Antonella Tosti, Gail Todd, Maria Hordinsky, Roderick J Hay, Xuemin Wang, Claus Zachariae, Kathy M Kerr, James P Henry, Rene C Rust, Michael K Robinson "A comprehensive pathophysiology of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis – towards a more precise definition of scalp health." Acta dermato-venereologica 93.2 (2013): 131-7. PubMed
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