The search for skin barrier strengthening and restorative Korean skincare peaks around this time of year, and for a good reason – it’s vital that we strive to keep the outermost layers of our skin in tip-top condition as it’s the body’s first line of defense against the environmental changes we experience throughout Autumn & Winter. But why and how do we fortify skin’s moisture barrier in the most straightforward, and simple way?
What is the role of your skin barrier?
In order to understand why we need to maintain a strengthened skin barrier in the first instance, we need to remember that skin is an organ. Skin, especially the upper layers of skin, play an important role in fighting off bacteria, retaining hydration skin-deep, and is the body’s natural barrier to pollutants present in our environment.
Genetically, some people are born with a weakened skin barrier, this is usually as a result of not having enough ‘natural fat grout’ which lay between skin cells. These microscopic breaks in the surface layer of skin subsequently cause skin dehydration, redness, and inflammation. An example of skin conditions relating to this genetic factor is Eczema, which typically presents itself on the outer layer of skin as red and flaky patches of skin which are severely dry, and in some cases are sore to the touch.
Everyone needs to care for their skin barrier
Atopic dermatitis is not the only sign of a weakened skin barrier. A weakened skin barrier may just be sensitive, and thus susceptible to redness and itchiness when faced with cold weather conditions, or when in contact with acidic skincare products such as harsh facial cleansers, and others. The skin barrier also depletes with age - again as a result of environmental and physical factors experienced throughout the years. Therefore, it is important to prioritize maintaining a strengthened skin barrier during Autumn/Winter regardless of age, skin type, or skin condition.
Where to start
Take a look at your current skincare routine, does it contain an equal balance of easy to layer watery formulations, and nourishing yet lightweight emollients? If not, then it’s time to switch-up your skincare regime!
Is key to re-building the skin barrier through the replenishment of abundant moisture without overly applying dense creams, balms, and oil-based skincare products which can take a long time to thoroughly penetrate past the top layer of skin. By layering watery toners and essence 2-3 times over in a single routine, you can boost skin’s moisture levels rapidly, and rely less on the application of heavy moisturising creams and lotions.
What makes Hyaluronic Acid desirable in the form of a toner, essence, serum, or gel-cream, is it’s fast absorption rate and low molecular weight. By placing the Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Toner into your skincare routine, you can introduce 50% Hyaluronic Acid aqueous solution of low, middle and high molecular sizes and Beta-glucan to your skin without stickiness. With the addition of the Isntree Hyaluronic Acid Water Essence you can further improve your skin’s inner hydration content with 8 types of Hyaluronic Acid. This pair form the perfect duo to begin your daily skincare routine that ultimately ensures your skin is well strengthened and shielded from the cold weather conditions.
Panthenol and Panax Ginseng Root Water by comparison have near equal moisture retention benefits as Hyaluronic Acid. Both ingredients are star features in the Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water to deliver deep and long-lasting hydration needed to maintain a strong skin barrier needed to battle the elements. Use this skin conditioning essence alongside the Beauty of Joseon Repair Serum to effectively nourish, moisturize, and brighten skin with 63.3% Ginseng root water and 3% Snail Mucin.
Because skin irritation is a major concern and indication that the skin barrier has become compromised or weakened, skin-soothing ingredients in skincare products are just as important as those which strengthen skin when rebuilding the skin barrier. To get directly to the source of the irritation the Banobagi Heart Leaf 100 Essence contains 100% undiluted Jeju Heartleaf Extract. This Vegan-certified daily essence is clinically proven to significantly:
- soothe sensitive skin,
- improve skin texture for healthier looking skin,
- provide antioxidant effects,
- and keep skin's moisture barrier well-balanced.
Incorporate this essence between the toner and serum steps of your skincare routine to soothe your skin in a timely manner without a heavy finish.
REPLENISH, THEN NOURISH
After using a water-rich toner, essence, serum/ampoule, follow up with intensive nourishing textures which increase skin’s strength. This part of the routine usually comes in the form of emollients which enrich skin with a complex of dual-action ingredients which fortify the skin barrier. The long-time popular Etude Soon Jung 10-free Moist Emulsion & 2x Barrier Intensive Cream provide low-irritant moisturising with their patented Panthensoside™ formula – a combination of Panthenol plus Madecassoside – that refreshes, rehydrates, and soothes weakened skin types.
The Emulsion for this product range is mildly acidic to mimic and closely match the natural and stable pH level of the acid mantle. On the other hand, the Intensive Cream helps to better control excessive sebum production by balancing skin’s oil-moisture levels with less moisture loss throughout wear.
For very dry skin types which appreciate heavier textures that absorb more steadily, but don’t make skin feel weighed down, consider implementing a Ceramide moisturising cream into morning and evening skincare routines. The Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream consists of a 5-type Ceramide complex to act as a surface barrier to avoid soreness and rough skin commonly experienced at the height of the coldest months of the year.
Somewhat similar to the Dr. Jart cream, the Banobagi Milk Thistle Repair Cream is a "highly concentrated recovery cream for strengthening the skin barrier of sensitive skin with skin regeneration, detox, skin soothing, moisturising, and wrinkle improvement benefits". This delicate facial cream has a low pH level of 5.01-6.01 to offer it’s vast array of benefits without placing additional stress on stressed skin.
Alternatively, look to the COSRX Comfort Ceramide Cream for a less dense way to get some skin-comforting Ceramide onto your skin. It holds 10,000ppm worth of Ceramide NP to condition skin. The Centella Asiatica Leaf Water is what makes this cream lighter in consistency, and brings added relief to sensitive and sensitized skin. This moisturiser, which is ideal for use twice daily, is part of COSRX Balancium line – products and formulations which serve as a solution for unbalanced skin types which struggle to hold moisture and stay comfortable.
Other products to consider - Probiotic skincare
As mentioned in our Everything You Need to Know about Hanbang article, probiotics and fermented ingredients in K-Beauty skincare greatly contribute to reinforcing the skin barrier when used consistently over a prolonged period of time. Missha, are well-known for their ability to incorporate ingredients like Bifida Ferment Lysate with Yeast Ferment Extract in the Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Rx. This essence helps to conserve natural skin flora which make up part of the skin barrier, also providing some anti-wrinkle effects as a bonus.