How to Protect Your Skin Barrier from Environmental Stressors

Want healthy, radiant skin that defies premature signs of aging? If so, you’ll need to take steps to support skin barrier function and protect against free radical damage.

Keep reading to see how it’s done. But first: what is the skin barrier and what does environmental stress do to your skin, exactly?

What Is the Skin Barrier?

Simply put, the skin barrier is the protective outer layer of the epidermis that keeps water and minerals intact. It’s also the first line of defense against harmful bacteria, fungi, and toxins from penetrating the body through the skin. It’s worth noting that the skin is a component of the body’s innate immune system, as well.

Skin cells layered in a brick-and-mortar pattern comprise the skin barrier. In this analogy, skin cells are bricks, and the glue holding them together consists of lipids, including fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides.

As we can see, skin barrier function is essential to maintain the integrity of your skin—not only for a glowing complexion but also for protection from external aggressors.

What Environmental Stress Does to Your Skin

There are many kinds of environmental stressors that can threaten skin barrier function, contribute to premature signs of aging, and otherwise damage the skin.

“Environmental aggressors are one of the main causes of aging skin,” Dr. Goldfaden begins. “Daily aggressors such as the sun, pollution, exhaust, smoking, secondhand smoke, radiation, the ozone, and topical ingredients (like phthalates and mineral oil) all contribute to the demise of our healthy skin cells.”

These environmental stressors allow free radicals to proliferate in the skin and body. (Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage in the body—and while environmental stressors do contribute to their presence, they also result from ordinary metabolic processes.)

As Dr. Goldfaden continues, free radicals “cause the breakdown of collagen, onset of wrinkles, cell mutation, aging, dark spots, dehydration, inflammation, and immune function damage.” In fact, they cause direct damage to the skin’s DNA and thus skin barrier function as well.

While environmental stressors are ever-present and have adverse effects on your skin—not to mention overall health—it’s essential (and possible!) to reduce their impact in major ways.

How to Protect Your Skin Barrier and Reverse Skin Damage

Fortunately, there are several ways in which you can simultaneously boost skin barrier function and reverse (and help prevent) skin damage.

To promote a healthy, protected complexion, loading up on antioxidants is a great place to start.

Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods

First, dietary antioxidants have the power to neutralize free radicals, thus preventing cell damage before it can take its toll on your skin and health alike.

Aim to eat foods and drinks that pack key antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene, including:

  • carrots
  • tomatoes
  • collard greens
  • apples
  • mangoes
  • berries

Apply the Best Antioxidants for Skin

Then, of course, we have topical antioxidants in skincare products. While vitamins C and E and ferulic acid are among the most popular kinds (tip: benefit from their protective, glow-getting powers in Goldfaden MD’s Brightening Elixir), there are others worth mentioning that pack a serious punch to nourish and protect your skin.

Meadowfoam seed oil contains a blend of omega fatty acids to lock in moisture, balance the skin, and ward off free radical damage from UV rays, pollution, and other environmental stressors.

Next, niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) is a top trending topical antioxidant—and rightly so! Niacinamide is as well-rounded as it is potent; it has the power to brighten, hydrate, and protect your complexion from the elements—as well as refine pores—leaving you with nourished, radiant skin.

Last but not least, bakuchiol is an antioxidant that’s best known as a gentler, vegan alternative to anti-aging powerhouse retinol. With consistent use, you can say goodbye to fine lines and hyperpigmentation and hello to firm skin—all while reducing the potential for dryness, irritation, and photosensitivity.

Goldfaden MD is proud to introduce the newest product to our lineup for nourished, firmer, hydrated skin: the Radiance Repair Daily Renewal Serum. It packs a fortifying blend of meadowfoam seed oil, niacinamide, and bakuchiol so you can wake up to a tighter, brighter complexion.

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