Your Moisture Barrier is Really More healthy Than Ever—This is Why

In all my 30+ years of being an esthetician, I’ve by no means seen as many individuals come to me with considerations over delicate pores and skin as I’ve in the previous few years. I’m virtually sure that we have now social media to thank for this, because the time period “broken moisture barrier” has been burned into our collective psyche. There’s little question that having a strong moisture barrier is a key part of wholesome pores and skin, and on the one hand, I’m glad folks have a greater understanding of this idea. I feel it helps forestall pores and skin points that may be brought on by consumer error, resembling over-exfoliation. 

However in terms of broken pores and skin boundaries, I counsel everybody to take a step again and relax. Individuals have reached a little bit of a fever pitch pondering their boundaries are both broken on a regular basis or broken past restore (spoiler alert, your pores and skin is resilient and might at all times bounce again!). Keep in mind, a “broken barrier” is barely a modern-day time period for having dry, delicate pores and skin– it’s nothing to lose sleep over and it’s removed from a everlasting situation. Our boundaries are not as broken as we expect they’re. To know why, let’s take a bit of journey down reminiscence lane. 

Skincare within the ‘80s

Let me let you know, the skincare trade has come a great distance since I entered the scene as an esthetician in 1988. The typical skincare routine consisted solely of three steps: cleanse, tone, and moisturize. Don’t assume this sounds too dangerous? Let’s take a better look.

Again within the ‘80s, cleanser choices have been far and few. You could possibly both use a brilliant drying bar cleaning soap or a foaming cleanser that was certain to be loaded with drying sulfates. The binders which are utilized in bar cleaning soap give it a pH that isn’t appropriate with our pores and skin, making them notoriously harsh and drying. Even worse, these cleansers have been paired with a Buf Puf, or what principally served as a Brillo Pad to your face! Again then no person knew what a moisture barrier was, main folks to clean and scrub at their pores and skin– particularly in the event that they have been zits inclined. We now know that zits is an anti-inflammatory situation and that irritating it like that is the final factor we wish to do.

When it got here to toners, they have been fully astringent again then (anybody keep in mind SeaBreeze or Ten-O-Six?). To get that astringent impact, they often had drying alcohols in them. One of the crucial common cleansers on the time was Clinique No. 2, which contained not solely alcohol but additionally acetone. Anytime I heard that one in every of my shoppers was utilizing this toner, I’d exhibit its capacity to take away my nail polish proper in entrance of their eyes. It didn’t take lengthy to conclude it’s undoubtedly not one thing you need in your face!

I’m an enormous fan of toners for these 5 causes, however trendy toners are alcohol-free and ship hydrating, nourishing elements into the pores and skin.

Lastly, moisturizers weren’t one thing that these with oily, acne-prone pores and skin have been involved about utilizing to maintain their pores and skin hydrated. This solely contributed to general dryness. 

Skincare within the ‘90s and ‘00s

The ‘90s and early aughts ushered in a brand new crop of common merchandise, however most of them have been simply as dangerous. 


When it comes to exfoliation, the Buf Puf was simply changed by Clarisonic. It was marketed that you must use it twice a day and in flip, grew to become the explanation I noticed so many individuals rubbing their pores and skin uncooked. 

Facial Scrubs

Facial scrubs additionally grew to become common throughout this time. Nevertheless, most of them consisted of jagged bits of walnut shells or apricot pits. To the shock of many, I truly nonetheless assume facial scrubs could be extraordinarily useful, particularly for hyperpigmentation. This was an unpopular opinion for a very long time as a result of folks have been scarred– each actually and figuratively– by old-school scrubs. I nonetheless consider they are often very useful, however it’s all about utilizing a contemporary scrub with light particles.


Proactive was one other product that shortly rose to fame, possible because of repetitive TV commercials and illustrious endorsements from everybody’s favourite celebrities. In case you had zits, you have been utilizing proactive. However their merchandise have been heavy on drying elements like benzoyl peroxide, and so they didn’t present a lot compensation in the way in which of moisture. 

Exfoliating Acids 

They could be one of the vital broadly used skincare actives right this moment, however let’s not overlook how exfoliating acids began! When acids first got here onto the scene, nobody had any concept find out how to use them correctly. They have been bought at extremely excessive percentages, and the formulation weren’t very nicely stabilized as a result of the significance of pH with these merchandise wasn’t but nicely understood. 

I got here to be taught this firsthand in 1992 after I obtained my fingers on a pure 2% AHA glycolic acid gel. This was revolutionary on the time as a result of these acids have been pretty unknown (even amongst skincare professionals!). Per the directions, I stored it on my pores and skin for 10 minutes, rinsed it off, then wiped my face with a moist washcloth. As I wiped, I seen my pores and skin was peeling off. I used to be excited, pondering it was simply actually efficient. Come to seek out out, I used to be truly wiping off new pores and skin cells. The following day, my pores and skin was oozing badly and I developed scabs on my face. It took a month for every thing to totally heal. 


I used to be additionally round when retinoids went mainstream for the therapy of wrinkles and photoaging. They’d traditionally been used to deal with zits, however the FDA ultimately authorised them for anti-aging (I even met the dermatologist who was instrumental in getting them authorised). In 1990, ABC Information broke a narrative about how there was an zits prescription that was getting used off-label for the therapy of wrinkles. Everybody rushed out to get it and began utilizing it with little to no schooling. The following few weeks I used to be booked stable with all these shoppers who have been working to their esthetician to restore all of the dryness, sensitivity, and injury that had been precipitated. I had a shopper are available as soon as with tremendous dry pores and skin from utilizing a prescription retinoid, and when she sat down and smiled at me, her nasolabial folds actually cracked and bled proper in entrance of my very eyes. There was just one power of retinoid accessible on the time (supposed for oil, acne-prone pores and skin) which means that these vulnerable to dryness have been caught utilizing a retinoid that was manner too sturdy for them.

The place We’re At Now (and Why Your Obstacles are Safer Than Ever)

Evidently, everyone seems to be way more educated about find out how to use lively elements now. Exfoliating acids are actually accessible in tons of various strengths, with stabilized formulation, and extra hydrating and soothing elements. Astringent toners have been changed with hydrating essences. Bodily scrubs are actually light and well-formulated. Various kinds of acids, like lactic and mandelic, are an choice for even essentially the most delicate pores and skin varieties. And retinoids? There are such a lot of various kinds of retinoids accessible now. Once more, all completely different sorts of strengths and bases—some extra light and hydrating than others relying in your wants. With a wealth of schooling accessible about find out how to correctly use retinoids, folks now know find out how to mitigate negative effects slowly (like making use of moisturizer beneath). Even make-up is much more nourishing than it was! Again when matte was the look, basis make-up was largely contributing to dryness. Now, lots of make-up has skincare elements in it.

The ethical of the story is that merchandise now are far gentler than they’ve ever been earlier than. Which means how folks use them and the way manufacturers promote their merchandise is essential to give attention to. For instance, an exfoliating acid serum may have an amazing, light formulation. However, when you’re utilizing it each single day of the week, you’re nonetheless going to get a compromised barrier. 

Schooling In Skincare

Shoppers are extra educated than ever earlier than, and one motive is that manufacturers lean way more closely into product schooling, which I’ve at all times thought was tremendous vital. I feel the principle hazard now could be that whereas info is extra available than ever, there’s a lot of it that it may be a double-edged sword. Individuals get info from sources that aren’t respected, and their pores and skin can turn out to be compromised because of consumer error. (And sure, persons are nonetheless seeing DIY skincare recipes involving placing lemon juice on their pores and skin. One of many many causes I’m not a fan of DIY skincare.)

How Merchandise Are Extra Efficacious Now

Merely put, merchandise are extra efficacious now as a result of we perceive the pores and skin’s wants a bit of higher and there are extra choices to select from. This implies you could find merchandise which are appropriate to your distinctive pores and skin as an alternative of everybody accessing the identical few merchandise like again within the day. I based mostly my complete model on the concept that everybody’s pores and skin is exclusive and has its personal wants, that’s why I created the Nine Skin Types. As a result of merchandise are much less harsh we’re working in sync with mom nature. By no means go in opposition to her, at all times work together with her! It’s all about listening to your pores and skin and never overdoing it.

Questioning what to do when you’ve broken your barrier? In case you overdo it and find yourself compromising your moisture barrier, right here’s find out how to repair it