Skin barrier. What is it? A recent survey found that the term skin barrier is not understood.

Skin barrier. What is it? A recent survey found that the term skin barrier is not understood.

Skin barrier. What is it? A recent survey found that the term skin barrier is not understood.

A recent survey conducted in the UK revealed that 29% of respondents had a clear understanding of the skin barrier, while 71% either hadn't heard of it or were unsure of its role. Has-the-term-skin-barrier-confused-consumers-Simple-s-survey-says-yes

The term "skin barrier" refers to the outermost layer of our skin, known as the stratum corneum (Latin for horny layer). It is more than a physical barrier and contains complex interrelated barrier functions. This layer is comprised of specialised skin cells called corneocytes, an extracellular lipid matrix containing ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids, as well as proteins like filaggrin, all arranged in a highly organised unique structure. Together, these components form a powerful shield that protects our bodies from various potential threats. The stratum corneum, or skin barrier, serves multiple functions beyond its physical role.

Your skin, the body's largest organ, houses its remarkable barrier functions in the layers of the epidermis, specifically the stratum corneum (SC). This layer serves three primary purposes; limiting water loss from our bodies, defending against environmental threats such as pollution, UV light and allergens and preventing microbial infections. The skin barrier encompasses not just a physical aspect but also chemical, microbiological, immunological, and sensory components that respond to stimuli like temperature and touch. Collectively, this entire system is referred to as the skin barrier, and these functions are interconnected and interdependent.

The SC consists of corneocytes embedded in a lipid matrix, which is vital for the skin's permeability barrier function making our bodies waterproof and its primary function is to be the interface between our bodies and the environment. The stratum corneum is continuously replaced, with turnover significantly slowing as we get older, taking approximately 28-42 days. It consists of 10-30 layers of tightly packed corneocytes cells, keratinocytes that have been toughened by accumulating the protein keratin and lost their nuclei. Maintaining a healthy stratum corneum is critical for preserving the natural barrier functions.

It is important to recognise that the skin barrier represents a collection of specific diverse functions, many of which occur primarily within the SC. These include maintenance of water content and balance (permeability barrier), prevention and responses to invasion by microbial organisms and antigens (antimicrobial barrier and immune response barrier), reduction of the effects of ultraviolet (UV) light exposure (photoprotection barrier), mitigation of the effects of oxidative stresses (antioxidant barrier) and the pH of our skin is maintained at a slightly acidic pH of 4.5-5.5 and forms the acid mantle (chemical barrier).

Vitis V Face TonIQ contains nothing that interferes with any of the skin barrier functions in fact it contains only cold pressed unrefined grapeseed oil and grapeseed extract both ingredients nourish and nurture the skin barrier. Because there is no water in Vitis V Face TonIQ  it doesn't contain preservatives. It is unscented and fragrance free to ensure the removal of potential oxidants, allergens and irritants and will not change the pH of your skin ensuring the chemical acid mantle barrier remains unaltered. It boosts natural antioxidant reserves to strengthen the photoprotective and antioxidant barriers.

The lipid matrix comprises approximately 50% ceramides, 27% cholesterol, and 10% free fatty acids. Lipids are oily, waxy substances that are insoluble in water and also include fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) Besides storing energy and serving as structural components in cell membranes, lipids play a crucial role in the skin barrier by acting as a permeability barrier, preventing the movement of water in and out of the body, and offering protection against invasive microorganisms, toxins and chemicals. Vitis V Face TonIQ contains 66-75% Linoleic fatty acid which is a essential lipid as it must be supplied to the body as our bodies cannot make Linoleic fatty acid. It is the predominate polyunsaturated fatty acid in the epidermis and a precursor of ceramides which are 50% of the stratum corneum extracellular lipid matrix.

Understanding the Skin's Complex Structure:

The skin, our body's largest organ, consists of three primary layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous tissue.

  1. Epidermis: This is the visible layer of our skin where the skin barrier functions are located. It has multiple sublayers, with the outermost layer, the stratum corneum, playing a pivotal role in forming both the physical skin barrier and the other functions of the skin barrier. The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes in various stages of differentiation and migration, with the final stage being highly keratinised cells that form our waterproof skin barrier. These highly keratinised cells, known as corneocytes or squames, lack nuclei, and their shedding process is called desquamation.

  2. Dermis: Situated beneath the epidermis, the dermis is a thicker layer containing structures such as blood vessels, sweat glands, and hair follicles. Its role is to supply nutrients to the epidermis and regulate body temperature.

  3. Subcutaneous Tissue: Also known as the hypodermis, this layer contains fat cells and acts as a cushion and insulator.

The Stratum Corneum: Guardian of the Skin Barrier functions.

The stratum corneum, where the majority of the distinct skin barrier's key functions occurs. This outer layer is made up of skin cells called corneocytes, which are held together by lipids (fats) and proteins.

Formation of the Stratum Corneum:

The process of forming the stratum corneum begins in the lower layers of the epidermis. New skin cells, known as keratinocytes, are continuously produced in the basal layer some remain as stem cells others are destined for differentiation. As these cells move upward through the epidermis, they undergo a significant transformation.

  • Keratinisation: Keratinocytes as they travel up through the epidermis sublayers accumulate keratin, a tough, fibrous protein that makes the cells more robust and resistant which gives the cells strength to resist mechanical injury (physical barrier) when they reach the stratum corneum.

  • Lipid Secretion: Simultaneously, keratinocytes, secrete lipids, including ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. These lipids play a crucial role in holding the corneocytes together and forming a waterproof barrier (permeability barrier) controlling trans-epidermal water loss and keeping our skin hydrated. Vitis V contains essential linoleic fatty acid, which is the predominate fatty acid of the epidermis and is required precursor to ceramide production within the skin.

  • Cell Death: When keratinocytes reach the uppermost epidermal layer, they undergo apoptosis, a programmed cell death process. During this stage, they lose their nuclei and other organelles, ultimately becoming corneocytes

  • Desquamation: These flat, densely packed corneocytes make up the stratum corneum. Over time, these dead cells naturally shed from the skin's surface, allowing the skin barrier to renew itself.

Functions of the Skin Barrier:

The skin barrier isn't a passive shield; it actively performs several vital functions:

  1. Protection: The composition and structure of the stratum corneum create a robust barrier against harmful microorganisms, toxins, and environmental factors like UV radiation and pollutants.

  2. Preventing Water Loss: By limiting water loss from the body, the skin barrier helps maintain proper hydration levels within the skin.

  3. Temperature Regulation: The skin plays a role in regulating body temperature by controlling sweat production and blood vessel dilation.

  4. Sensory Perception: Sensory receptors in the skin enable us to perceive various sensations, including touch, temperature, and pain.

Because of the skin barriers interrelated and intricate functions it is susceptible to disruption. Sensitive skin is a response to a compromised skin barrier and many medical skin disorders are a result of a dysfunctional stratum corneum such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis and rosacea. The entire epidermis contributes to the skin barrier, although many of the major activities of barrier maintenance and repair occur within the SC. If you have a damaged, compromises or dysfunctional skin barrier this results in penetration of allergens, toxins, chemicals that initiates an inflammation response. A compromised skin barrier will also result in greater loss of water from the skin resulting in dry flaky itchy and uncomfortable skin. Signs you have a damaged skin barrier.

  • Sensitivity

  • Acne.

  • Dry, scaly and/or flaky skin.

  • Redness

  • Infection.

  • Inflammation and irritation.

  • Itchiness.

  • Rough patches.

  • Stinging

  • Tenderness

Our last layer of skin the stratum corneum is where the physical barrier and other barrier functions primarily reside and the very products you are using could be damaging its vital and critical functions. Your skin barrier needs to be nourished and nurtured not attacked.

Actions and products can damage your complex and intertwined barrier functions.

  • Using harsh chemicals, alcohol, soaps or products with surfactants which  cause pH changes and remove the lipid matrix which then compromises the permeability barrier.

  • Over-exfoliating or scrubbing your skin. Physical damage as well as removing the lipid matrix that causes permeability barrier dysfunction resulting in increases loss of water and dehydrated dry rough flaky skin.

  • Applying essential oils that introduce allergens that initiate the inflammation response and cause antimicrobial barrier breaches.

  • Using water-based skin care that contains preservatives that disrupt the keratinocytes balance between proliferation and differentiation and altering the skins microbiome.

  • Introduction of toxins, synthetic chemicals including fragrance/parfum and petrochemicals causing oxidative stress and depleting the antioxidant barrier.

Skincare needs to not disrupt, compromise or damage the balance of all the skin barrier functions. A healthy skin barrier is designed to keep things out including water and hydration in. The tightly packed corneocytes and hydrophobic (water hating) lipid matrix only allows lipid-based or fat soluble molecules smaller than 500 Daltons to penetrate. Water is an irritant to your skin and the only way it can penetrate your skin is via skin pores.

Vitis V Face TonIQ contains essential skin components that are skin barrier nourishing and simultaneously boosts your antioxidant defences to further support other barrier functions. It contains no irritants including water, preservatives, fragrance/parfum or essential oils that can compromise, damage or disrupt any of the skin barrier functions.

Vitis V your essential daily dose of luxury so that you can achieve your most nourished skin barrier, be your most radiant and feel your finest.


The skin barrier is a remarkable product of nature, it is the interface between our bodies and our environment formed through intricate processes of keratinisation, lipid secretion and cell death in the epidermis. Understanding how this barrier functions and protects us is important so that we do not compromise its finely tuned physiochemical functions by the very products we are using. It is fundamental to appreciating the complexity of the skin barrier and its role in safeguarding our health and well-being.

Vitis V Face TonIQ one simple step to skin barrier health and why we say complexity doesn't do your skin any favours as it is very easy to disrupt the highly organised skin barrier and interrelated skin barrier functions.

Five Functional Aspects of the Epidermal Barrier

The outer frontier: the importance of lipid metabolism in the skin

Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner

Significance of Skin Barrier Dysfunction in Atopic Dermatitis

Lipids and the Permeability and Antimicrobial Barriers of the Skin