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New Year, New You: Prioritising Skin Barrier With a Routine Reset

by Shermaine Chua 05 Jan 2024

The turn of the year marks more than just another trip around the sun; it’s a chance for a fresh start. And what better way to embrace new beginnings than by reevaluating and revamping our skincare routines? While 2023 was the year of glass skin and cloud skin #skingoals, trends change so quickly. We can only guess at what fascinating or innovative new trends 2024 will bring. Tofu skin? Jelly skin? Who knows! But amidst these shifts, one thing is sure to remain constant: the universal desire for clear, healthy and makeup free skin.

The key to that? A healthy skin barrier. As we step into the new year, let’s make it a priority to repair and strengthen our skin barrier and set the foundation for fabulous skin!

What is the skin barrier exactly?

skin barrier

Your skin is made up of layers, each performing important functions in protecting your body. The epidermis is the outermost of the three layers that comprise the skin. Within this layer, it is further subdivided into five layers.  The outermost layer, called the stratum corneum, acts as an important barrier to protect your body from harmful agents in the environment. That is your skin barrier, and also your body’s first line of defence. 

Why a strong & healthy skin barrier is so important

Before we go into why it’s so crucial, we must first understand the main functions of our skin barrier and those are to protect us from:

  • Pollution
  • Ultraviolet rays
  • Dehydration
  • Irritation, inflammation & infection
  • Toxins

Under a microscope, the stratum corneum looks like a brick wall. It’s made up of cells that act as bricks which are tightly bound together by “mortar”-like fats such as ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids.

skin layers

There are several causes of a damaged skin barrier such as the use of harsh chemicals and peels, aesthetic treatments, not applying sunscreen and/or using the wrong skincare. A compromised skin barrier loses its tight cell arrangement, creating gaps that let irritants enter easily while letting moisture escape. The result is irritated, dehydrated and flaky skin. In contrast, a strong & healthy skin barrier will protect you from external stressors, regulate water loss from the inside out, retain moisture and keep you hydrated.

It is the key to clear, healthy and makeup free skin.

How can you tell if your skin barrier is damaged?

If your skin looks like this:

signs of skin barrier damage

Your skin barrier is damaged. But don’t panic! New year, new you, right? We can still hit the reset button on our skincare routines to repair and strengthen our skin barrier.

How you can repair your skin barrier quickly

Healing a damaged skin barrier involves having a great skincare routine that supports its recovery.

Stop using actives & exfoliants immediately

When your skin barrier, or the top layer of your skin is damaged, it’s no longer able to lock moisture in and keep irritants out as effectively as it used to. This makes your skin a whole lot more vulnerable and sensitive and we don’t want to aggravate it further.

Focus on hydration & cell regeneration

The skin barrier can repair itself over time naturally, albeit very slowly. To expedite the cell regeneration process and alleviate skin irritation and inflammation, prioritise skincare that helps with moisture retention and healing so you can rebuild your skin to become clear, strong and healthy again.

 Our recommended skincare routine:

1. Cleanse

Wash your face once a day at night and gently cleanse with micellar water in the morning

2. Treat

Look for serums that is designed with your skin barrier in mind, such as those that promote a healthy skin microbiome

3. Moisturise

Through a damaged skin barrier,  your skin is losing more water than usual. Use a moisturiser that helps replenish the moisture in your skin while creating a barrier to seal the moisture in.

4. Protect

Defend your skin against harmful UV rays with a broad spectrum physical sunscreen that won’t cause irritation


Never leave home without sunscreen

A damaged skin barrier is even more prone to sun and blue light damage. Since chemical sunscreens are more likely to cause irritation, use a physical sunscreen to protect your skin from harm UV rays instead. To ensure that the sunscreen you are using is a physical sunscreen, check the ingredients list for active ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreens would contain ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate instead.

The new year offers a chance for a skincare reset. After all, it’s not just about achieving glowing skin; it’s about nurturing and respecting our body’s largest organ too! By understanding how crucial this protective shield is, spotting signs when it needs a little tender loving care and mixing in those powerhouse products, you will be well on your way to achieving your skin goals this year, and every year to come! 



Hayes, E. (2020) What’s the difference between Humectants, emollients and occlusives?, Hero Cosmetics. Available at: https://www.herocosmetics.us/blogs/news/moisturizers-explained-what-s-the-difference-between-humectants-emollients-and-occlusives (Accessed: 19 October 2023). 

Purnamawati, S. et al. (2017) ‘The role of moisturizers in addressing various kinds of dermatitis: A review’, Clinical Medicine & Research, 15(3–4), pp. 75–87. doi:10.3121/cmr.2017.1363. 

Rajkumar, J. et al. (2023) ‘The skin barrier and moisturization: Function, disruption, and mechanisms of repair’, Skin Pharmacology and Physiology [Preprint]. doi:10.1159/000534136.

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