Understanding The Skin Barrier Function

Understanding The Skin Barrier Function

skin barrier and skin layers


The skin barrier, otherwise known as the stratum corneum, is made up of constantly shedding and replacing dead skin cells. This outer layer contains a mix of lipids and proteins that work their magic to keep our skin hydrated and shielded from harmful elements.

  • Lipids and proteins are quite the dynamic duo in supporting skin structure and function. Lipids, also known as fats, are molecules made of fatty acids and glycerol that act as energy sources and structural components of cell membranes.
  • Proteins are complex molecules made of amino acids that have a variety of functions, from catalyzing chemical reactions to providing structural support. 

Do you know what's really interesting? The skin barrier isn't the same for everyone, the stratum corneum displays a sex difference. Research suggests that males are more likely to have a thicker stratum corneum layers than females, which might explain why male skin tends to age at a slower pace. [1] Additionally, hormones like estrogen, can play a role in skin thickness and hydration levels throughout the menstrual cycle. Fascinating stuff, right?

To function properly, the skin barrier needs to maintain a delicate balance of hydration and pH levels, all while keeping out any unwelcome intruders. But here's the catch – the dalton-500 rule states that only molecules smaller than 500 daltons can make their way through the stratum corneum. Making it crucial to understand and care for our skin barrier to maintain its proper function. By layering products (in the appropriate order), we can create an extra line of defense, thereby protecting and nourishing the skin barrier, leaving us with healthy, radiant skin. 



It is essential that you always keep your skin barrier's function and health in mind, in order to better layer your skincare products. It's also going to facilitate selecting products with ingredients that are designed to work with the natural chemistry of your skin. When layering skincare products, be sure to pay attention to the order in which you use them so that they can activate each other’s effects. Additionally, different ingredients can act synergistically with one another – some ingredients actually work better when combined together than when used alone. Ultimately, consistency is key; finding the best layering combination and learning to listen to your skin means you’re developing skin awareness one skincare ritual at a time. 

Read more on skincare layering and the skincare barrier hereHappy layering!

[1] Rahrovan, S et al. “Male versus female skin: What dermatologists and cosmeticians should know.” International journal of women's dermatology vol. 4,3 122-130. 22 Jun. 2018, doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2018.03.002