About Dry, Sensitive Skin


The healthy skin barrier retains moisture and looks smooth and plump.

The skin barrier (stratum corneum) is composed of cells (corneocytes) surrounded by fat or lipids in layers that keep water in and keep irritants out when it is not disrupted. Those fats are mostly cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides.

When the skin barrier is damaged, skin won’t retain water or keep irritants out. This leads to a cycle of inflammation, itching, and scratching leading to further breakdown of the skin barrier.


The skin barrier can break down for various reasons:

  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs (inhibit lipid synthesis).
  • Detergents (strip away fatty acids).
  • Dry, cold, and windy weather (draws out moisture).
  • Prolonged exposure to hot water (removes lipids).
  • Rough fabrics (causes mechanical damage).
  • Pollution (aggressors that breakdown skin).
  • Preservatives and fragrances (allergens or toxins).
Sensitive, dry damaged skin can be a result of a damaged, ineffective skin barrier that releases moisture.

Attention to these triggers may alert you to times when you should take protective action such as applying moisturizer more frequently or selecting softer fabrics. The right combination of these fats included in the diet and in skin care products can help repair the skin barrier.