Attractive older woman outside


As we age, our skin undergoes various changes that can affect its overall health and appearance. One crucial aspect of maintaining glowing and vibrant skin is ensuring a healthy skin barrier. The skin barrier, also known as the stratum corneum, serves as a protective shield against external factors such as environmental pollutants, UV radiation, and pathogens. A healthy skin barrier also plays a key role in preserving moisture within the skin, preventing water loss, and maintaining optimal hydration levels.

The skin barrier acts as a defense mechanism by preventing irritants from penetrating deep into the layers of the skin and triggering inflammatory responses. Moreover, an intact skin barrier supports the natural exfoliation process, allowing for new cells to emerge while old ones are shed. However, with age, our skin barrier tends to become thinner due to a fragmentation of collagen and elastin, and drier due to reduced production of essential lipids and proteins necessary for its integrity.

What Is the Skin Barrier

The structure and composition of the skin barrier play a crucial role in maintaining the overall health and integrity of the skin. Also known as the stratum corneum, this outermost layer of the epidermis serves as a protective shield against environmental factors, pathogens, and excessive water loss. At a microscopic level, the skin barrier consists of corneocytes, which are dead skin cells that have undergone a process called keratinization.

These corneocytes are tightly packed together in layers to form a brick-and-mortar-like structure. The "mortar" is composed of lipids, including ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. These lipids fill in the spaces between corneocytes, creating a waterproof seal that prevents water loss from inside the body while blocking external substances from entering. Additionally, natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) such as amino acids and urea are essential in maintaining proper hydration within the stratum corneum. 

 Epidermis diagram

The Stratum Corneum: What Does it Do?

The stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis, plays a crucial role in maintaining skin health and protecting our bodies from external factors. This thin layer is composed of dead skin cells called corneocytes embedded in a lipid matrix. Despite its seemingly simple structure, the stratum corneum performs several vital functions. Firstly, one of its primary functions is to act as a protective barrier against physical, chemical, and microbial threats.

It prevents excessive water loss from the body and helps maintain skin hydration levels by limiting water evaporation through its lipid matrix, composed of ceramides (CERs), cholesterol (CHOL) and free fatty acids (FFAs). This matrix regulates transepidermal water loss (TEWL) to prevent dehydration while retaining moisture within the skin layers. Which is why it is so important to maintain this mixture of lipids in the skin barrier. 

Additionally, the skin barrier function shields us from harmful ultraviolet radiation and prevents irritants and pathogens from penetrating into deeper layers of the skin. And, on top of that, this outermost layer aids in regulating body temperature by preventing heat loss during cold conditions and reducing excessive sweating when exposed to high temperatures. Pretty impressive!

How pH Affects the Skin Barrier

One way the stratum corneum provides an effective defense mechanism against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses is by creating an acidic environment on its surface. This acidity inhibits microbial growth while promoting optimal conditions for beneficial microorganisms that reside on our skin. 

This is why maintaining a healthy pH balance is crucial for protecting and supporting the skin barrier, and this is why the Caraline Daily Hydrate Face Mist has been formulated with a pH of 4.5-5.0. The skin's natural pH is slightly acidic, with a range of around 4.5 to 6, and this acidity helps protect the skin from harmful bacteria, viruses, and other environmental stressors.


When skincare products have an imbalanced pH, it can disturb the skin's natural pH balance, resulting in dryness, irritation, and potential infection. For instance, using soaps or cleansers that are too alkaline can strip away the skin's natural oils and disrupt its pH level. On the other hand, acidic products like chemical peels or exfoliants can lead to excessive exfoliation and harm the skin barrier.

It’s all about balance and taking care of the skin with gentle products that support, hydrate, and nourish.

The Impact Of Aging On The Skin Barrier

As we age, our skin undergoes various changes that affect its overall health and appearance. One significant impact of aging is the breakdown of the skin barrier, which plays a vital role in protecting our body from external threats. The skin barrier acts as a shield, preventing harmful substances from entering while retaining moisture and essential nutrients. As time passes, the skin's ability to maintain this protective barrier diminishes.


Attractive older woman with moisture drops on her face


The outermost layer of the skin, known as the stratum corneum, becomes thinner and less effective at retaining moisture. This results in increased water loss and dryness, making the skin more susceptible to damage. Moreover, aging affects the production of essential lipids, including ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol, that contribute to maintaining a healthy skin barrier. These lipids help form a protective seal between cells in the stratum corneum, but their levels decrease with age.

This leads to weakened cell cohesion and impaired barrier function. Furthermore, collagen and elastin fibers responsible for maintaining firmness and elasticity in the skin also decline with age. Their degradation contributes to a loss of structural support for the skin barrier. Overall, these aging-related changes compromise the integrity of the skin barrier, making it more vulnerable to environmental factors such as pollution and UV radiation.

Decreased Moisture Retention: A Common Effect Of Aging On The Skin Barrier

Aging is a natural process that affects various aspects of our body, including the skin. One of the most common effects of aging on the skin barrier is decreased moisture retention. As we age, our skin undergoes structural changes that lead to a decline in its ability to retain moisture. One key factor contributing to this decline is a decrease in the production of natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) in the epidermis.

NMFs, such as urea and amino acids, play a crucial role in maintaining hydration by attracting and holding water within the skin cells. With age, these NMF levels diminish, compromising the skin's ability to retain moisture. Additionally, aging disrupts the lipid barrier present in the stratum corneum – the outermost layer of the epidermis responsible for preventing water loss. Lipids act as a protective shield, sealing in moisture and preventing harmful substances from penetrating into deeper layers.

With age, this lipid barrier becomes less effective due to reduced production and alterations in its composition, and the consequences of decreased moisture retention are evident through visible signs such as dryness, roughness, and an overall dull appearance of aging skin.  Furthermore, a decline in sebum production occurs during aging. Sebum is an oily substance secreted by sebaceous glands that lubricates and protects the skin against microbial invasion, and reduced sebum levels can lead to a compromised lipid barrier function.

How To Support And Protect The Aging Skin Barrier

As the skin barrier weakens with age, it becomes essential to adopt specific strategies that support and protect its integrity. By incorporating these practices into our skincare routine, we can help maintain a healthy skin barrier. Firstly, moisturization is key. Aging skin tends to lose moisture more rapidly, leading to dryness and increased vulnerability. Using a rich and hydrating combination of a hydration mist and a nourishing oil blend can replenish lost moisture and reinforce the skin's protective barrier. 

When we formulated the Caraline Daily Nourish Face Oil,  we created a product that would be a mixture of fatty acids, ceramides, and wax that would support and help protect the skin barrier and reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Together, with the Caraline Daily Hydrate Face Mist, or what we call The Daily Hydrate & Nourish Duo,  you can restore moisture and lipids to the skin and support the skin barrier.

Secondly, gentle cleansing is crucial. Harsh cleansers can strip away natural oils from the skin, further compromising its barrier function. Opting for mild cleansers that are free of irritants or harsh chemicals will help maintain a balanced pH level while effectively removing impurities. 

And don’t forget sunscreen- it’s never too late. Regular application of sunscreen is vital in protecting against harmful UV radiation, as overexposure to sunlight accelerates aging by damaging collagen fibers and depleting natural antioxidants in the skin. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF should be applied daily as part of our skincare routine.

And, finally, incorporating antioxidant-rich products into your regimen can provide additional support for the aging skin barrier. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals caused by environmental factors such as pollution and sun exposure, reducing oxidative stress on the skin. Which is why we included green tea extract and Kakadu plum extracts in the Caraline Daily Hydrate Face Mist, and used antioxidant-rich oils like pomegranate, cranberry, and sea buckthorn, plus Coq10 in the Caraline Daily Nourish Face Oil.

How Does the Skin Barrier Get Compromised?

When the skin barrier is compromised, various skin issues may arise, including heightened sensitivity, dryness, inflammation, premature aging signs, and increased susceptibility to acne breakouts as bacteria can more easily penetrate the skin. Common skin conditions resulting from a compromised skin barrier include eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis. These conditions often cause intense dryness, itching, redness, and discomfort, posing challenges to maintaining healthy skin.

Environmental factors like pollution, UV rays, and harsh weather conditions can strip away the skin's natural lipids, damaging the skin barrier.  When the skin barrier is compromised, it no longer effectively retains moisture and becomes more susceptible to irritation and infections. 

One significant factor affecting the stratum corneum is excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.  Prolonged sun exposure can lead to skin damage, including dryness, inflammation, and reduced barrier function.


Sun in a blue sky


But, did you know that improper skincare routines or using harsh products can also damage the skin barrier? Frequent use of overly abrasive cleansers or excessive exfoliation can strip away essential lipids and disrupt the skin's natural pH balance, compromising the stratum corneum's ability to retain moisture.

Additionally, lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and an unhealthy diet can also compromise the skin barrier, environmental pollutants such as air pollution and cigarette smoke can also disrupt the stratum corneum's integrity. But, all these factors have one thing in common: they induce oxidative stress.

How to Maintain A Healthy Skin Barrier

Use a Gentle, Oil-Based Cleanser: Avoid harsh cleansers that strip the skin of its natural oils. Opt for mild, pH-balanced cleansers that effectively cleanse without compromising the skin barrier. 

    Moisturize Regularly with the Caraline Daily Hydrate & Nourish Duo: This duo was formulated to address the specific needs of older skin.  It contains our Daily Hydrate Face Mist, which delivers hydration and moisture to the skin with humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. The Daily Nourish Face Oil, a lightweight, fast-absorbing blend that softens and smoothes while benefiting the skin barrier and overall skin health, seals that moisture into the skin with protective and soothing emollients.  Using this simple yet potent combination twice daily supports a healthy skin barrier with moisture and nutrient-rich oils that add protection.

    Moisturizers play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy skin barrier as we age. As our skin matures, it becomes more prone to dryness and loses its natural ability to retain moisture. This can lead to various issues such as increased sensitivity, flakiness, and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, by incorporating the Caraline Daily Hydrate Face Mist, and the Caraline Daily Nourish Face Oil, or as we call it the Caraline Daily Hydrate & Nourish Duo into your skincare routine, you can effectively combat these concerns. 

    The Caraline Daily Hydrate & Nourish Duo works by replenishing the skin's moisture content and forming a protective barrier on its surface. It contains humectant ingredients that attract water from the environment or deeper layers of the skin, keeping it hydrated throughout the day. Additionally, emollients The Daily Nourish Face Oil contains fatty acids and ceramides that prevent water loss by creating a seal over the skin's surface. Regular application of the Caraline Daily Hydrate & Nourish Duo helps strengthen the skin's natural barrier function by improving its ability to retain moisture and preventing transepidermal water loss (TEWL), while keeping the skin hydrated and helping maintain its elasticity and suppleness.

    Use Sun Protection: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even during cloudy weather. Sun damage weakens the skin barrier, leading to premature aging and increased vulnerability to environmental stressors. 

    Nourish from within by eating a healthy diet: As we age, maintaining a healthy skin barrier becomes increasingly important for overall skin health and appearance. Several lifestyle changes can help promote and strengthen this vital protective layer, ensuring our skin remains resilient and vibrant. 

    Adopting a balanced diet rich in nutrients is crucial - the more colorful, the better!  Consuming foods high in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and collagen-boosting ingredients can enhance the skin's natural defenses against external aggressors while supporting its elasticity and moisture retentionA well-balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can promote healthy skin from within. Include foods like fruits, vegetables, fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and nuts that provide essential nutrients for maintaining a strong skin barrier.

    Conclusion: Embracing Aging With A Nurtured And Resilient Skin Barrier

    As we age, maintaining a healthy skin barrier becomes increasingly important for overall skin health. This protective layer serves as our first line of defense against external aggressors and helps retain moisture, keeping your skin healthy and vibrant. Gentle, clean plant-based skincare rich in fatty acids, and antioxidants that help combat free radicals, and humectants that can replace moisture and lipids that have decreased in the skin can help support a healthy, resilient skin barrier.

    And don’t forget sun protection! It is critically important, as exposure to harmful UV rays weakens the skin barrier over time. Maintaining a balanced diet rich in nutrients and getting a good night’s sleep while managing stress also play crucial roles in promoting a resilient skin barrier.

    May 01, 2024 — The Caraline Team

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