I've Gone Too Hard on Actives. How Do I Fix My Skin Barrier?


I've Gone Too Hard on Actives. How Do I Fix My Skin Barrier?

Step away from the retinol. Dermal Therapist Yadira Cauchi shares how to repair an impaired barrier in four steps.

Yadira Cauchi

Dermal Therapist

0 minute read

Published: November 2022

Origin: Australia

Fun fact: clients with damaged skin barriers is the number one issue I see in clinic.

And the thing is, a lot of people don’t even realise they’re damaging their skin barrier until it’s too late. 

So, how do you damage your skin barrier? 

In my experience, the main cause is overusing harsh acne products, and/or stripping cleansers, as well as overusing ingredients like retinoids - or even clay and detox masks. For some skins, even alcohol based toners can be too harsh.

Lifestyle factors such as diet, alcohol or stress have the potential to contribute as well. 

It is super important to pay attention to where your skincare actives are in your routine, and what you’re using and/or why and when, because our skin barrier matters

You need to think of your skin barrier as a bit of a body guard. It’s the outermost layer of the skin and its job is to protect us from external factors like environmental stressors, harmful bacteria and pollution.

It is also responsible for our skin’s ability to retain moisture and prevent water loss too - again, super important. 

If you’ve damaged your skin barrier, you may be experiencing any of the following: 

+ Severe dryness/dehydrated skin

+ Redness and inflammation

+ Rosacea

+ Increased breakouts

+ Rashes or eczema flare ups

+ Irritation, itchy skin or flakiness

+ Overall dullness 

How to fix a damaged skin barrier

So how can it be treated? The best ways to start are below...

Ease up on your actives

This may mean cutting them out altogether for at least four weeks

While active skincare is great to be including in your skincare routine, once you go overboard you cannot be using it at all - until your skin heals.

If your skin is feeling tight, red or itchy, continuing to use your actives will make things worse and it could even trigger acne. Over-exfoliation places a lot of stress on the skin - and it’s what got you here in the first place. 

Focus on hydration

When your skin barrier is damaged, you need to give your skin a whole lot of TLC and while retinoids, exfoliating acids and clays may be out - hydration is in.

So focus on delivering lots of it via your serums, like a great hyaluronic acid or B5 Serum, gentle cleansers and don’t forget to moisturise!

A dehydrated skin barrier means your skin could be struggling to hold onto water. And without proper hydration, your skin could start to flake - or in worst case scenarios even crack. Hydration is so important in the healing process. 


Melyon Detox Serum - a hydrating serum like this morning and night will provide the skin the adequate hydration that it needs. Always follow with a moisturiser. 

Manasi 7

Microbioskin ™ Botanical Face Cleanser 50ml

Formulated with certified organic, natural, wild-harvested and fermented ingredients, Botanical Cleanser Caulis is a water-activated cleansing balm. It emulsifies from balm to oil to milk to water, rinsing away makeup, dirt, and sunscreen, leaving a smooth, clean complexion with no residue.

Botanical Cleanser Caulis’s gentle-yet-powerful formula contains a unique blend of the finest botanical oils and extracts.

Use gentle, non-stripping cleansers 

The cleanser you use when you have a damaged skin barrier is vitally important and again, it shouldn’t be an active one.

Bland, gentle cleansers are always best for morning and night when your skin barrier is damaged. And any active cleansers should be placed on hold. 

Melyon Milk Cleanser

The Melyon Milk Cleanser is designed to eliminate impurities and purify the skin without a hint of irritation. It tenderly soothes redness, imparts a radiant glow, and acts as an antioxidant powerhouse.

Enriched with Ginger Root Extract, Salicylic acid, and Cinnamonum Leaf Oil. This formula leaves all skin in natural beauty.

Use calming ingredients to heal an impaired skin barrier

The best ingredients to use when your barrier is damaged have a few things in common, and most often you’ll find they contain calming anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide (vitamin B3), cica (full name centella asiatica), ceramide, glycerin, vitamin b5 (panthenol) and/or colloidal oatmeal.

Yadira Cauchi

Dermal Therapist


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