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Does this sound familiar? You're diligent about taking care of your skin every day, being sure to cleanse, protect your skin from sun damage, and apply moisturizer. Yet it seems no matter what you do or how much money you spend, your skin doesn't improve.
Frustrating, right? You just can't figure out what you're doing wrong, and your skin just doesn't improve. While there are many reasons this could be happening, one factor to check is whether or not the products you're using are too harsh for your skin! It can come down to one critical element of skin care, and that's carefully protecting the barrier (outer layers) of the skin. Simply put, if the skin's barrier isn't protected, your skin will not improve!
From head to toe, the skin's barrier includes the outermost layers of skin, the skin you see on the surface. It functions to keep skin moist, smooth, and keep the bad stuff out. When the skin's surface is healthy and undamaged it feels and looks smooth, soft, plump, and definitely not dry. When the skin's outer layers are damaged and unhealthy, you get dry, rough, dull, dehydrated-looking skin.
When your skin is healthy, there is an abundance of the vital substances it needs, such as fatty acids, cholesterol, lecithin, glycerin, glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides. The Paula's Choice Research Team refers to these important ingredients as skin-identical or skin-repairing ingredients, and research has shown they're critical for healthy skin. When we review moisturizers and serums for any skin type, we are always looking for a blend of these substances. Why? Because if the outer layers of the skin aren't healthy, then it's difficult, if not impossible, to repair wrinkles, heal red marks from acne, reduce blemishes, eliminate dry skin, and on and on!
Keeping the skin's outer layers healthy means you need to prevent and repair barrier damage. Here's how you can stop repeatedly damaging your skin:
Now that you know what not to do, you can take immediate steps to stop and correct the damage, allowing your skin to heal.
Helping repair the skin's outer layers requires using the right skin-care products, and they must be gentle and brilliantly formulated! Even though you think you're using great skin-care products—because they're from a spa, because a doctor recommended them, because celebrities rave about them, or because they're expensive—the truth is many such products contain little to no really beneficial ingredients, and some actually contain ingredients that damage the skin's barrier.
A shocking fact (it even shocked us!): Daily use of even one problematic product can lead to barrier damage that your skin tries desperately to fix, but, especially as we age, skin becomes ill-equipped to keep up with the daily onslaught of damage.
Here's our step-by-step guide for weeding out the bad products and making sure your routine works to replenish, not deplete, your skin's barrier:
By following the steps above and being consistent with your skin-care routine (plus avoiding things that we know damage the skin's barrier, as explained above), your skin can absolutely become smoother, softer, and, yes, younger-looking. Ongoing use of gentle products, combined with daily sun protection, will reduce wrinkles and brown spots and give your skin a radiant glow, plus you'll notice your skin heals faster and more evenly.
It's amazing to think that all of these benefits stem from keeping the skin's barrier intact and healthy—and now you know why you haven't been seeing the improvements you were hoping for. With a few simple but effective changes, you can turn all of that around—your skin will thank you!
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Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international TV including:
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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective.
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