What Are The Barriers to Skin Health?

If you want to improve your skin’s health, you need to eliminate any barriers to skin health.  There are 4 main issues that can reduce skin health.  These are taken into account when we diagnose your Baumann Skin Type®.


DEHYDRATION: Dehydrated Skin is Dry Skin

Dehydrated skin contains less water than is needed for healthy skin.  This occurs because there is an increased amount of water that evaporates off of the skin.  This is known as transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Increased TEWL1 results in dry, dehydrated skin.

What Causes Skin Dehydration?

 An impaired skin barrier allows water to evaporate off of the skin. An impaired skin barrier occurs when lipids (fats) known as ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol are not found in the proper ratio (1:1:1)2


Why is Skin Dehydration Bad for Skin Health?

Dehydrated dry skin feels rough and looks dull.  The rough edges of the skin cells cause friction when touching wool, fabric and other rough surfacing causing a destructive shearing force on the skin’s surface.  This leads to small cracks in the skin allowing entry of irritants, allergens, microbes, chemicals and pollutants causing inflammation. Dry skin tends to itch in many people and scratching of the skin leads to inflammation, and in susceptible skin types, dyspigmentation and an uneven skin tone.

The enzymes in the skin that perform many constructive and protective actions require water.  A decrease in water in the skin leads to lower enzymatic activity and changes in the skin cells in the upper layers of the epidermis.3 For example, in dehydrated skin, the upper layers of the stratum corneum (outermost layer of the skin) do not desquamate properly 4 and heap up on the surface making it rough, uneven and a poor reflector of light. This is why dry skin looks dull and loses radiance.  Darker skin types with dry skin get an ashy tone due to the retained transparent dead skin cells seen over pigmented skin cells.

Skin dehydration causes the other barriers to worsen.  In other words, dry skin leads to inflammation5, pigmentation, and skin aging.  This is why skin dehydration is the first target of any good skincare routine for healthy skin.


INFLAMMATION: Inflamed Skin is Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is more susceptible to inflammation in the form of acne, rosacea, redness and stinging.  Anti-inflammatory cosmeceutical ingredients soothe inflamed skin, but it is necessary to discover the source of inflammation to treat it properly. 

What is Inflammation?

 Inflammation occurs when cell signaling molecules cause dilation of blood vessels leading to skin redness known as erythema.  The redness is caused by the fact that you can see more blood through the skin when the blood vessels are bigger.


What Causes Inflammation?

Many different cell signaling molecules cause inflammation such as cytokines, arachidonic acid, bradykinin, histamine, prostaglandins, activation of Toll-like receptors and interleukins.   In addition to causing dilation of blood vessels, histamine also causes swelling and itching. It is complicated to learn all of the inflammation pathways that cause inflammation to occur. The important thing is to know what is causing these inflammatory pathways to get turned on.  Once inflammation starts, regardless of the cause, the various pathways can turn each other on causing an endless cycle of inflammation.

What Types of Inflammation are Seen on the Face?

Acne, rosacea, skin stinging, skin itching, skin tenderness or a pink/ red discoloration are all types of inflammation seen on the face.  Other types of inflammation can be seen in hypersensitive skin.  Skin allergies can also be associated with inflammation.

Why is Inflammation Bad for Skin Health?

Inflammation causes free radicals and turns on destructive skin pathways that lead to thinning of the skin and wrinkles.  Inflammation also stimulates melanocytes to make pigment (melanin) in skin types prone to an uneven skin tone.  Inflammation of the skin6 is associated with systemic inflammatory diseases7 such as diabetes, heart disease8 and Alzheimer’s disease.  In children, skin inflammation causes an increased risk to develop food allergies.


PIGMENTATION: Dyspigmentation is Uneven Skin Tone

In the Baumann Skin Typing System, pigmented skin types are defined as skin with an uneven skin tone. (This is independent of ethnicity- rather is a measure of color evenness).  Uneven skin tone has been associated with the perception of unhealthy skin.9 10 11 Uneven skin tone may be called dyschromia, hyperpigmentation, dark spots or pigment alteration.

Cause of Dyspigmentation and Hyperpigmentation of Skin

An uneven skin tone is caused by excessive production of melanin by skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes increase the production of the pigment melanin and/ or increase the transfer of melanin-containing melanosomes into skin cells.  The increased skin pigment production results in an uneven skin color due to uneven light reflection in different areas of the skin due to differences in distribution of melanin pigment.


Skin Problems That Cause an Uneven Skin Tone

An uneven skin tone is caused by many things.  One common cause of an uneven skin tone is inflammation.  Inflammation stimulates melanocytes to make more melanin resulting in a problem known as post-inflammatory pigment alteration or PIPA. Other skin disorders that cause an uneven skin tone are melasma, acne, eczema, tinea versicolor, hemochromatosis and any skin disorder that causes inflammation.  

AGING: Aging skin is wrinkle-prone skin


Aging skin has molecular pathways that lead to sagging, fragile and wrinkled skin.  There are two main types of aging:

  1. Intrinsic aging is caused by your genetics and normal cellular metabolism 
  2. Extrinsic aging is caused by exposure to sun, light, pollution and other insults that turn on destructive pathways in the skin that lead to aging.  Poor lifestyle habits increase the risk of skin aging.

Causes of Skin Aging

Lifestyle habits such as ultraviolet light, stress, lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet, smoking, vaping and pollution exposure turn on harmful pathways that injure the skin.  Inflammation also turns on these aging pathways by causing free radicals that damage cell structures leading to skin aging. Dehydration can also lead to increased skin aging.

How To Treat The Barriers To Skin Health?

How to treat any issues that are affecting your skin’s health depends upon what Baumann Skin Type you have.  Combining these 4 barriers to skin health into 16 unique skin types gives 16 Baumann Skin Types®. The skin care regimen that is best to make your skin healthy depends upon which of these barriers to skin health that you have.  These are the 16 Baumann Skin Types and the barriers to skin health that each Baumann Skin type has. Do not try and guess your skin type- rather take the skin type quiz.


Your skincare regimen should contain products that target your barriers to skin health. The goal is to turn the barriers to attributes as seen below:


Our mission at Skin type Solutions is to improve skin health globally.  The first step to skin health is identifying which of these barriers are preventing you from having your healthiest skin.  Tell your friends- spread the word- together let's empower the world to confront these barriers to skin health and change skin to the healthiest skin type.



1Grubauer, G., Elias, P. M., & Feingold, K. R. (1989). Transepidermal water loss: the signal for recovery of barrier structure and function. Journal of Lipid Research30(3), 323-333.

2Mao-Qiang, M., Feingold, K. R., Thornfeldt, C. R., & Elias, P. M. (1996). Optimization of physiological lipid mixtures for barrier repair. Journal of Investigative Dermatology106(5), 1096-1101.

3Harding, C. R., Rawlings, A. V., Long, S., RICHARDSON, J., ROGERS, J., Zhang, Z., & Bush, A. (2000). The cornified cell envelope: an important marker of stratum corneum maturation in healthy and dry skin. In Supramolecular And Colloidal Structures In Biomaterials And Biosubstrates (pp. 389-406).

4Harding, C. R., Watkinson, A., Rawlings, A. V., & Scott, I. R. (2000). Dry skin, moisturization and corneodesmolysis. International journal of cosmetic science22(1), 21-52.

5Pavel, A. B., Zhou, L., Diaz, A., Ungar, B., Dan, J., He, H., ... & Guttman-Yassky, E. (2020). The proteomic skin profile of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis patients shows an inflammatory signature. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology82(3), 690-699.

6Thornfeldt, C. R. (2008). Chronic inflammation is etiology of extrinsic aging. Journal of cosmetic dermatology7(1), 78-82.

7Zuo, L., Prather, E. R., Stetskiv, M., Garrison, D. E., Meade, J. R., Peace, T. I., & Zhou, T. (2019). Inflammaging and oxidative stress in human diseases: from molecular mechanisms to novel treatments. International journal of molecular sciences20(18), 4472.

8Aksentijevich, M., Lateef, S. S., Anzenberg, P., Dey, A. K., & Mehta, N. N. (2020). Chronic inflammation, cardiometabolic diseases and effects of treatment: psoriasis as a human model. Trends in cardiovascular medicine30(8), 472-478.

9Fink, B., Grammer, K., & Matts, P. J. (2006). Visible skin color distribution plays a role in the perception of age, attractiveness, and health in female faces. Evolution and Human Behavior27(6), 433-442.

10Stephen, I. D., Smith, M. J. L., Stirrat, M. R., & Perrett, D. I. (2009). Facial skin coloration affects perceived health of human faces. International journal of primatology30(6), 845-857.

11Fink, B., & Matts, P. J. (2008). The effects of skin colour distribution and topography cues on the perception of female facial age and health. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology22(4), 493-498.

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