Winter is a time for warm traditions such as family dinners and hot drinks. Winter traditionally brings dry, flaking and stinging skin. Even though many people will stay indoors this winter, the constant heating of our homes can cause skin irritation and drying. If you have been using oils and moisturizers without success, we ask you this question: Have you ever considered the moisture barrier of your skin? Continue reading to learn how to keep your skin healthy and hydrated throughout the winter.

First: What is your skin’s moisturizing barrier?

According to Dr. Onyeka Obioha (dermatologist and Byrdie Review Board member), “The moisture barrier” is a protective layer that covers the skin with ceramides and fatty acids. You can also call it the acid mantle. It acts as a shield from the harsh environment and unwelcome bacteria. It absorbs water and prevents skin dehydration by keeping it from losing its moisture.

Many brands have created products that help to maintain your skin’s moisture barrier. For example, Lord Jones’ acid mantle repair is a thick, goopy cream that helps to lock in moisture. Summer Frein, Lord Jones’ General Manager, explains that this vital barrier helps maintain your skin’s hydration. A healthy acid mantle should be slightly acidic with a pH of 4.5 to 6.2. Depleted acid mantles can make your face vulnerable to future damage and irritants. The moisture barrier can affect many things, including weather changes, facial masks, excessively acidic products and UV exposure. The moisture barrier is particularly vulnerable in winter. Dr. Ohioba says that cold temperatures can cause the protective layer to be broken down, causing cracks in the skin and dryness. Dr. Ohioba says indoor heaters reduce humidity levels and accelerate water loss, leading to dryness. These moisture-stripping triggers are more dangerous for people with chronic skin conditions such as eczema.

How do you know if your moisture barrier is compromised?

The signs are easy to spot and feel. A compromised skin barrier can cause skin redness, dryness and itching. My moisture barrier has been compromised due to too many activities. I have experienced severe stinging, itching, dry skin, flaking, dehydration, persistent breakouts, and skin that looks shiny and tight. Healthy moisture barriers should be able to hold on to moisture and keep your skin plump, hydrated and firm.

Step 1: Get back to basics.

It is important to babysit a damaged moisture barrier gently. Kate Somerville, a celebrity esthetician who founded a skincare brand, says that if your skin is damaged, it’s best to avoid harsh actives and other harmful ingredients. When you have irritated skin, your first instinct is to scrub it too much. However, gentle cleansing products are best for sensitive skin. Avoid harsh cleansers that contain sulfates. They can dry out your skin. It would help if you instead chose a milky or light cream cleanser. Sommerville’s DeliKate Clearance has ceramides & peptides that soothe and repair your skin while you clean it. She recommends using the delicate cream to provide maximum healing and soothing.

Step 2: Get a humidifier.

Low temperatures outside can mean you are turning up the heat inside. This is great for comfort but not for moisture retention. Dryer air can strip your skin of moisture. A humidifier is a great option. These devices can help to restore moisture to the air. It’s like your skin going from a desert to humid rainforest. You can also turn it on before you go to bed so that you are helping your skin heal.

Step 3: Use products that enforce barriers

Frein says that products with specific ingredients will aid in the repair and preservation of your skin’s natural acidity. She advises against over-cleansing or exfoliating and instead nourishes your skin with essential skin barrier building blocks such as ceramides and oils high in fatty acids. Lord Jones Acid Mantle Repair CBD moisturizer is another great choice. It “features a 5-ceramide compound that works in harmony and our full-spectrum hemp-derived CBD oil and sunflower seed oils to rebalance the skin.” Next time you look for a moisturizer to help with persistent dryness, check out the ingredients list. Ceramides act as glue to fill any cracks in your skin’s moisture barrier. They also contain skin-loving fat acids and squalane, which mimic your skin’s natural oils.

Step Four: Finish everything with an oil

Transepidermal moisture loss is the enemy of repairing the moisture barrier. You can top your skincare with a facial oil to prevent it from happening and get the best out of your products. This will seal your skin and stop any products from evaporating. Jojoba oil is a great place to start if you are new to oil. Jojoba oil has a molecular structure similar to natural oils found in the skin (called sebum) and is light. It will not clog pores or trigger acne.