How To Prevent Transepidermal Water Loss
Written by Kerry Benjamin
Skin feeling dry and papery? You might be dealing with transepidermal water loss (TEWL). But don’t let the name freak you out, TEWL is really just a flashy term for a simple problem: it means your skin is losing water. Read on for some tips on how to get your plump, dewy bounce back.
WHAT IS TEWL?
Skin is made up of multiple layers: the epidermis at the surface, the dermis beneath it and hypodermis at the base. As the outermost layer of your skin, the epidermis is responsible for keeping moisture in and keeping environmental irritants out— a healthy epidermis feels smooth, plump and bouncy. The epidermis includes the lipid barrier: a layer of oils that keeps water locked in your skin. When this lipid barrier is compromised, water from the lower layers of the skin can pass through the epidermis and evaporate into the air. While transepidermal water loss is a normal process that can help the body regulate its hydration and temperature levels, when water evaporates out of the skin faster than the body can replace it, it can cause the skin to look dry, irritated and lackluster.
WHAT CAUSES TEWL?
While losing some water throughout the day is totally normal, certain factors can exacerbate TEWL. Dry air or extreme temps can zap the moisture from your skin. Skin trauma caused by the sun, inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, or the use of harsh skincare ingredients like sulfates also compromise the skin’s lipid barrier, which can cause your skin to lose water at a faster rate.
SIGNS OF TOO MUCH TEWL
When your skin loses too much water, it can feel dehydrated, sandpapery and dull. Thirsty skin can also start to show premature signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. A weakened lipid barrier also makes your skin more vulnerable to environmental irritants, triggering redness and irritation that can make inflammatory skin conditions like eczema or acne worse.
HOW TO PREVENT TEWL
PLUG IN A HUMIDIFIER: If you live in an arid climate, investing in a humidifier or two can help regulate moisture in the air and keep your skin balanced.
MOISTURIZE + HYDRATE: To keep TEWL at bay, your skin needs both water and oil. Incorporate a moisturizing routine that includes both humectant and occlusive ingredients. Humectants draw water into the skin while occlusive ingredients lock in moisture and prevent it from evaporating. Reach for a hydrating serum like our HA HYDRATING SERUM which contains multi-weight hyaluronic acid to draw water deep into the skin, and follow with a ceramide-based moisturizer like our MICROBIOME RESCUE DAILY MOISTURIZER to help strengthen the skin’s lipid barrier. Lock in all that moisture with a lightweight oil like our SHIUNKO BLUSH FACIAL OIL, infused with fermented shiunko and green tea oil to defend skin against environmental aggressors and vegan squalane to prevent water loss and keep skin smooth and flexible.
AVOID HARSH CLEANSERS: Using harsh cleansing ingredients like sulfates can strip the skin’s essential lipid barrier, causing water to escape quickly. Opt for non-foaming cleansers with mild, sulfate-free cleansing agents like our PREBIOTIC GEL CLEANSER.
SKIP SCRUBS & EXFOLIATE GRADUALLY: Over-exfoliating your skin can damage your lipid barrier. When exfoliating, swap out your scrub for a gentle peel. Scrubs tend to damage the lipid barrier because their tiny particles create microabrasions in the skin. Peels like our TCA LACTIC & GLYCOLIC FACE PEEL gently dissolve dead skin cells without compromising barrier function. Just start slow with 1-2x weekly applications and work your way up.
SLATHER ON SPF: Wearing SPF protects your skin against damaging UV rays that weaken the skin’s lipid barrier and cause premature signs of aging. Opt for a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 and apply at least 30 minutes before going out into the sun. We prefer mineral-based sunscreens, which tend to be less sensitizing for most skin types.