By Sara Spruch-Feiner, she/her
Clay masks are not typically associated with fortifying the skin’s barrier — but that’s exactly why the new Superclay Purify + Clear Power Mask isn’t your average clay mask. First things first, though, and before we get into the Power Mask, you need to know all about the skin barrier.
“The skin barrier refers to the outer layer of skin cells which protect you from the outside world,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Josh Zeichner. It’s your skin’s first and primary line of defense and it’s job is essentially to keep the bad stuff out and the good stuff in.
But a number of factors (genetics, a dry environment, using the wrong products, and over exfoliating) can lead to a disrupted skin barrier.
“A damaged barrier is like leaving your windows open and letting the bad weather into your house,” says Dr. Zeichner, adding, “It's important to keep the outside world out to allow the inner skin layers to function optimally.” When the barrier does become disrupted, the skin loses hydration and becomes inflamed, which translates to dryness, itchiness, flakiness, and redness.
As for the actual composition of the barrier, it is composed of skin cells surrounded by natural fats. To explain, Dr. Zeichner turns to another analogy:
“The outer skin layer is like the tiles in your shower floor, where the cells represent the tiles and fats represent the grout. The grout is primarily made of ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol.”
Dr. Zeichner says that the weather and change in seasons can impact our skin barriers—particularly when it gets cold.
“A lack of humidity in the air combined with cold temperatures and wind can take a toll on your skin,” Dr. Zeichner says, advising that that’s when moisturizer is more important than ever. His tips? Moisturize before leaving the house and think of your moisturizer as your first line of defense against the elements. He recommends looking for ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or oat extract.
If the skin barrier is compromised, it means it is lacking in the skin’s essential oils and needs extra support—which is where the new Power Mask comes in.
The Power Mask is a purifying, clarifying mask; it features three types of clay and BHA, all ingredients known for absorbing excess oil and helping to combat breakouts. But it also contains niacinamide and kombucha—both ingredients that work to support a healthy skin barrier.
Niacinamide, included at 2% in the Power Mask, is a super skincare multitasker, ”a form of Vitamin B3 that acts like a swiss army knife to calm inflammation, strengthen the skin's foundation, and brighten the complexion,” Dr. Zeichner explains.
Then there’s kombucha, which is in the Power Mask and also featured in the Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner. According to Dr. Zeichner, kombucha is “a fermented tea thought to be beneficial to the skin by restoring a healthy microbiome.” Why is that necessary? “When the skin barrier is damaged, the natural collection of microorganisms that live on the skin become disrupted,” he says.
When you rinse off the Power Mask, you’ll want to make sure to hydrate your skin and lock moisture in, which you can do with the 15% Vitamin C + Clean Caffeine Energy Serum and the Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream.
Protecting the skin barrier, it should be noted, doesn’t mean being you have to be afraid of exfoliating. The Yerba Mate Resurfacing Energy Facial combines physical exfoliation from bamboo and diatomaceous earth with exfoliating enzymes from papaya and pineapple.
Jacob Del Rosario, YTTP’s Senior Manager of Education, has a great tip for avoiding over-exfoliating—he recommends using “just the amount of pressure you would imagine applying to a balloon.” This, he explains, allows for “really effective release of all of that build up without the perceived aggressiveness that physical exfoliants sometimes get a bad rap for.” Just make sure to use it on alternating days (or days apart) from the Power Mask.
Together, with these products and techniques, your skin can be both super clear and smooth and super strong and healthy.Written by Sara Spruch-Feiner for Youth To The People