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All the lessons and tricks I’ve learned while trying to fix my pesky skin barrier.

In October of 2021, my eyelids’ skin barrier self-destructed. In what seemed like an overnight transformation, my normal skin mutated and became sensitive, red, inflamed, and flaky. Products that I usually used felt like acid on my skin and nothing could stop the relentless itching and burning. Aside from the pain and irritation, I was also embarrassed to go out because I didn’t want anyone to be grossed out by my eyes. What most people don’t talk about is how your skin can severely affect your day-to-day life and mental health. What was once my favourite features, felt like my biggest flaw. I didn’t want to go anywhere.

Only after months of trying out different products, going to the doctor and learning about my skin’s health did I finally fix my skin barrier. Here I have outlined some key takeaways from this experience:

What is a skin barrier?

Most people don’t know what a skin barrier is unless they damage their own. The skin barrier is your skin’s outermost layer and it works as a shield against the outside world, it is responsible for your skin’s health and appearance.

How do you damage the layer?

Most damage is inflicted by stripping your skin from its natural oils. This can be done by different medications, harsh scrubs and cleansers, rubbing the skin, trying too many products all at once, etc.

What does a damaged skin barrier look like?

A damaged skin barrier will look and feel different on distinct skin types. Common symptoms are redness, dryness, flaking, sensitivity, dermatitis, acne, burning, and, unfortunately, much more.

So what do I do now?

This is where this article comes in handy! I have compiled a list of my holy grail items that truly fixed my skin and probably made my skincare routine better than it was before:

La Roche posay Toleraine or cerave hydrating cleanser

When your skin barrier is damaged, it is important that you don’t strip any more moisture from the area. These are two gentle cleansers that not only clean your face but also leave it feeling moisturized and hydrated.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + b5

Hyaluronic acid is very beneficial for your skin because it helps retain water, keeping your skin moisturized, while also soothing sensitive skin and reducing dermatitis.

La Roche posay cicaplast balm b5

This product is a soothing repair balm, perfect for those who need more moisture fast. The best way to use this balm is to apply it before your moisturizer, letting it set for an extra dose of hydration!

aveeno calm + restore oat gel moisturizer

This moisturizer was formulated for those with sensitive skin. The ingredients in this moisturizer, specifically oat, are amazing at relieving itchy and dry skin. This moisturizer’s gel texture immediately soothes the skin and absorbs quickly without leaving your skin feeling oily.

Youth to the people dream eye cream or Kiehl’s creamy eye treatment with Avocado

When your skin barrier is healing it is important that you avoid any harsh products. Both of these products are super hydrating, actively combat dryness and leave your under-eye feeling smooth and soft.

Eucerin Aquaphor Healing ointment

This product was a godsend when my skin first started struggling. It was the only product that didn’t make me tear up or make my skin burn. While it does feel heavy when applied to the skin it definitely helped my skin heal in the initial stages of my skin journey. Now that my skin is healthier I only use this product at night for extra moisture and healing if my skin feels a bit dry.

Skinfix dermatitis face balm

This product is perfect if you want the healing properties that the Eucerin ointment provides without its heaviness. This balm is especially useful if you suffer from facial dermatitis, eczema, or dry skin patches on your face. I recommend using this product before your sunscreen in the morning or as your last step at night.

Vanessa is a third-year Political Science and History student at uOttawa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, listening to Taylor Swift on repeat, and running after Zuko, her English Bulldog.