Your skin loves to be in the pH range of 5 to 6. It loves moisture and it loves hydration. But due to weather, cosmetic products, the foods you eat, or the environment you're in, your skin barrier can get damaged. Usually that damage is caused by excess use of active ingredients or low pH products. Products with acids, and which are in the pH range of 1 to 3 will damage your skin if used in excess or used together with an ingredient such as retinol. Over-exfoliating can also damage the skin barrier.
Skin barrier damage can be mild and occur within a day, for example, if you use a retinol product and a low pH product and apply them to wet skin, this can cause skin barrier damage within a day. You can tell you have a damaged skin barrier if your skin feels raw, parched, and itchy. It will feel taut and stretched, papery, and extremely dry. Appearance-wise you may have mild redness, a cluster or patch of fine bumps that look like a mild rash, to longer-lasting hyperpigmentation, broken skin, and constant itchiness, or acne.
Skin repairs itself naturally every 28 days, but can take longer to repair the older you are. If you're over 30, your skin can take 30 to 45 days to regenerate. But you can help to accelerate skin cell repair using certain cosmetics. For skin barrier repair it's important to stop using certain products and start using others.
Do not use low pH or acidic ingredients such as Vitamin C which is L ascorbic acid or any acids. Do not use any peeling products: no alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy products. Do not use retinol. Do not use niacinamide. Do not use any cosmetics with any of these or other active ingredients. Do not dry brush or use any scrubs or other exfoliating products. Exfoliating will further irritate and inflame the skin.
To repair your skin barrier focus on reducing inflammation, giving it hydration (water), and moisture (oils). Damaged skin needs hydration to stop the dry, itchy, raw feeling. A lightweight oil or face cream which is oil combined with water using an emulsifier. Damaged skin requires restoring the pH balance of the skin. The skin needs cosmetics that can put the pH back in the range of 5 to 6.
Steps to take each day are as follows. To wash your face, you can use a very gentle cleanser with minimal cleansing agent. You may even just use a lightweight, non-comedogenic oil alone with water to gently clean away makeup, dirt. Then wipe clean. Keep your skin hydrated. It needs lots of water-based products, like a hydration water-based serum with no active ingredients and a face cream which is emollient and will help your skin stay moist for longer. After you wash your face, hydrate with an aloe face mist or cucumber and green tea serum and follow up with your moisturiser or face cream with no active ingredients. And those are the only two products you need until your skin starts to improve in look and feel.
Skin barrier repair takes three days to a week to repair, if mild. The skin barrier repair can take up to 45 days if there is acne, hyperpigmentation, and broken skin.
Ingredients that help skin repair along include super lightweight hempseed oil which on its own helps to regenerate skin and improves skin texture over time, creating a smoother, poreless appearance to the skin. Collagen-booster such as Coenzyme Q10 helps to speed up cell turnover. Aloe Vera juice helps to hydrate and revitalizes dry skin. Chamomile floral water calms inflamed skin. Look for products with these ingredients to help with skin barrier damage.