How to Repair Your Moisture Barrier

Is your skin feeling tight, dry and irritated? Do products sting on the application? Have you noticed flaking, redness, or itchiness? Does your skin feel rough to the touch? Are you breaking out more than usual? All of these can be signs that your moisture barrier is disrupted. When that happens, our immediate impulse is to slap on a thick moisturiser. Unfortunately, that will not remedy the problem (been there, done that). Let’s examine how we can fix a disrupted moisture barrier.

Moisture barrier explained

Stratum Corneum or the moisture barrier is the uppermost layer of the skin. It protects our skin and organs against the outside irritants, bacteria, and environmental pollutants. The acid mantle is the topmost layer of Stratum Corneum. It is made out of fatty and amino acids, sweat, and sebum (among other things). When our acid mantle gets disrupted, in turn, our moisture barrier gets disrupted and it leads to Transepidermal Water Loss.

What disrupts the moisture barrier?

Harsh cleansers are one of the most common cause. By harsh we mean cleansers with a pH of over 6. Why is the pH of our cleanser important? Because our skin is naturally acidic and its pH falls in the range between 4.5 and 6. When we use a cleanser with a high pH, we disrupt the natural pH balance of the skin.

Overexfoliation is another common culprit. For the love of everything holy, go slow with the chemical exfoliation. Always (ALWAYS) err on the side of caution. You don’t need to exfoliate twice a day, every day. In the beginning, a couple of times per week is more than enough. You can always increase the frequency if your skin is tolerating the product well.

Other common causes for the disrupted moisture barrier include frequent use of scrubs, any type of prescription strength skin treatments (retinol or acne treatments for example), severe weather conditions, indoor heating, air conditioning, and frequent flying.

Now that you know some of the most frequent causes of a disrupted moisture barrier, what can you do to fix it?


Stop all chemical exfoliation immediately and give your skin a chance to recover. Likewise, stop using scrubs and/or sonic cleansing brushes. You can reintroduce your favourite chemical exfoliant into your routine once your moisture barrier recovers.

Switch to a gentle cleanser with the right pH. A good rule of the thumb is it doesn’t cause your face to feel tight and uncomfortable.

In serums and moisturisers look for ingredients like Ceramides, Niacinamide, Phytosterols, Phospholipids, vitamin E, and Squalane.

Ishtar products to try

Skinbiotica Daily Defence Serum

Skinbiotica Daily Defence serum contains a complex of prebiotics to support healthy skin pH. Equally, prebiotics protect the skin from the effects of environmental pollution.
Botanical glucosides trigger a cascade of calming internal processes that defuse pro-irritant feedback. Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans hydrate and improve the appearance of fine lines. Canadian Rose Bay Willowherb extract has anti-inflammatory properties, reduces redness, and soothes irritation.

Multi-Ceramide Concentrate

Multi-Ceramide Concentrate contains skin-identical ceramides, sterols, and fatty acids. It is a light fluid that soothes and restores the skin. It combines skin-identical Ceramides (Ceramide 3, 3-II, 6 and 6-II) with a Phytosterol complex (cholesterol, stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, and campesterol). The formula also contains Glycosphingolipids (to stimulate fibroblasts, soften and moisturise the skin) and organic White Tea extract (which has antioxidant properties).⠀
Multi-Ceramide Concentrate is designed to work well for all skin types that have disrupted moisture barrier. Multi-Ceramide Concentrate is silicone-free, oil-free and suitable for vegans.⠀

Roberta Striga