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5 Ingredients to Calm Stressed Skin & Compromised Barrier


Time to read 7 min

Springtime in Toronto, especially around June, is a beautiful season with blooming flowers and lush greenery. However, for many, this period also brings a surge in pollen levels, leading to hay fever and various skin issues. 

If you’ve taken a stroll on Toronto Island during a flurry of pollen, you might have noticed your skin reacting unfavorably - this happened to me very recently - with redness, swelling, hives, itching, and burning or stinging sensation, all classic symptoms of stressed skin with compromised barrier. 

This blog will delve into how pollen and hay fever stress out the skin and compromise skin barrier, the symptoms of a stressed skin and compromised skin barrier, and the top ingredients to calm and restore stressed skin. Additionally, we will provide expert tips to help you soothe and protect your skin during pollen season.

1. How Pollen Stresses Out the Skin in June

Pollen, a fine powder produced by plants, is one of the most common allergens.

During June, many plants are in full bloom, releasing large amounts of pollen into the air. When pollen comes into contact with the skin, it can cause irritation, inflammation, and allergic reactions, especially in individuals with hay fever (allergic rhinitis).

The skin's reaction to pollen is often due to its ability to trigger an immune response, leading to the release of histamines. Histamines cause inflammation and increase the skin’s sensitivity. Inflammation and irritation can increase the permeability of the skin barrier. This means the skin becomes less effective at retaining moisture and more susceptible to the entry of harmful substances, including allergens, pollutants, and pathogens.

Furthermore, the lipid matrix in the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) plays a crucial role in maintaining barrier function. Inflammatory responses can disrupt this lipid matrix, leading to transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and making the skin dry and vulnerable.

2. Symptoms of a Compromised Skin Barrier

redness skin face

As mentioned earlier, the skin barrier, also known as the stratum corneum, is the outermost layer of the skin that acts as a protective shield. 

When this barrier is compromised, the skin becomes more vulnerable to environmental aggressors, allergens, and irritants.

Symptoms of a compromised skin barrier include:

  1. Redness and Inflammation: Persistent redness and swelling are common signs.
  2. Dryness and Flakiness: The skin loses its ability to retain moisture, leading to dry, flaky patches.
  3. Itching and Sensitivity: The skin becomes itchy and more sensitive to touch and skincare products.
  4. Breakouts and Acne: Increased susceptibility to bacteria can lead to breakouts.
  5. Tightness and Discomfort: The skin feels tight and uncomfortable, often accompanied by a burning sensation.

3. Top Ingredients to Calm Stressed Skin

To restore and soothe a compromised skin barrier, it’s essential to incorporate calming and reparative ingredients into your skincare routine.

Here are five key ingredients that can help:


How It Helps

Allantoin is a powerful skin-soothing agent known for its ability to reduce irritation and promote healing.

It helps to:

  • Calm Inflammation: Allantoin has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe redness and swelling.
  • Promote Cell Regeneration: It encourages the growth of new, healthy skin cells, aiding in the repair of the skin barrier.
  • Hydrate and Moisturize: Allantoin helps to retain moisture, keeping the skin hydrated and preventing dryness.


Look for creams and serums containing allantoin, especially those designed for sensitive or irritated skin.

Panthenol (Vitamin B5)

How It Helps

Panthenol is a humectant, meaning it attracts and retains moisture in the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

It helps to:

  • Enhance Skin Barrier Function: Panthenol strengthens the skin barrier, making it more resilient.
  • Hydrate Deeply: It penetrates deep into the skin, providing long-lasting hydration.
  • Soothe Irritation: Panthenol reduces redness and itching, calming irritated skin.


Panthenol can be found in a variety of skincare products, including moisturizers, serums, and masks.


How They Help

Ceramides are lipids that naturally occur in the skin and are essential for maintaining the skin barrier.

They help to:

  • Rebuild the Skin Barrier: Ceramides restore the lipid barrier, preventing moisture loss and protecting the skin.
  • Improve Hydration: They lock in moisture, keeping the skin hydrated and plump.
  • Soothe and Calm: Ceramides reduce irritation and inflammation, promoting a calm complexion.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

How It Helps

Niacinamide is a versatile ingredient known for its anti-inflammatory and barrier-strengthening properties.

It helps to:

  • Reduce Redness and Inflammation: Niacinamide soothes irritated skin and reduces redness.
  • Strengthen the Skin Barrier: It enhances the skin’s natural barrier function, making it more resilient.
  • Improve Skin Texture: Niacinamide helps to refine pores and improve overall skin texture.

Aloe Vera

How It Helps

  • Soothing: Aloe vera has cooling and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and irritation.
  • Hydration: It is rich in water content, which helps to hydrate and moisturize the skin.
  • Healing: Aloe vera accelerates the healing of skin damage and promotes skin regeneration.

4. Expert Tips to Calm Stressed Skin

Now that we have familiarized ourselves with some ingredients that help with calming compromised skin barrier, let's take a look at expert tips to help calm it fast. 

1. Gentle Cleansing Routine

  • Use a Mild Cleanser: Opt for a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser, like our Mild Face Cleanser. Avoid harsh cleansers that strip the skin of its natural oils. Look for cleansers with hydrating ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera, or panthenol.  
  • Limit Cleansing Frequency: Cleanse your face twice daily—morning and night. Over-cleansing can further irritate and dry out your skin.

2. Hydration is Key

  • Hydrating Toners/Essences: After cleansing, use a hydrating toner, essence, liquid moisturizer to replenish moisture. Look for toners/essences or any liquid type moisturizer with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or allantoin. 
  • Sheet Masks: Incorporate hydrating sheet masks into your routine a few times a week. Choose masks with soothing and moisturizing ingredients such as aloe vera, chamomile, and green tea. 

3. DIY Green Tea Mask

  • DIY Green Tea Soothing Mask: Brew a cup of green tea and let it cool. It doesn't have to be a fresh bag. It can be a bag of green tea that has been brewed. Soak cotton pads or a clean cloth in the tea and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. Apply it to your face as a mask. Green tea has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help soothe irritated skin. Don't make a batch. Instead, just make enough for one-time use. This is an excellent way to reuse brewed green tea bags for those who are green tea drinkers, like myself. 

4. Moisturizing

  • Use a Rich Moisturizer: Choose a moisturizer rich in humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerine to moisturize and help repair the skin barrier, such as our All-in-One Essence for Dry Skin, which contains a high concentration of humectants to moisturize the skin. Apply it generously. 

  • Occlusive Layer: For extremely dry skin, consider applying an occlusive layer over your moisturizer at night to seal in moisture. Our Repair Night Cream is excellent as it has high concentration of Jojoba Oil and Avocado Oil to lock in the moisture. And it also contains a high concentration of panthenol and allatoin to strengthen and rebuild skin barrier. It can also be used during the day time as well. 

5. Soothe with Aloe Vera

  • Aloe Vera Gel: Apply pure aloe vera gel directly to irritated areas. Aloe vera has cooling and anti-inflammatory properties that provide immediate relief from redness and itching. Apply a thick layer of All-in-One Essence for Dry Skin or Night Cream or other soothing creams afterwards if using at night.

6. Avoid Actives Until Skin Heals

  • Ditch Potent Actives: Temporarily stop using potent active ingredients like retinoids, AHAs, and BHAs until your skin barrier is repaired. These ingredients can be too harsh on compromised skin.
  • Introduce Actives Gradually: Once your skin is healed, reintroduce actives slowly. Start with lower concentrations and increase gradually, monitoring your skin’s response.

7. Cold Compresses

  • Cold Compress: Apply a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a soft cloth to inflamed areas. This helps reduce swelling and provides soothing relief.

8. Sun Protection

  • Wear Sunscreen: Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Sunscreens containing physical sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are gentle and effective. 
  • Protective Clothing: Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your face from UV rays when outdoors.

9. Modify Your Environment

  • Humidifier: Use a humidifier in your home to maintain moisture levels in the air, especially during dry seasons or in air-conditioned environments. 
  • Keep Clean: Regularly wash pillowcases, bed linens, and clean your phone screen to minimize exposure to irritants and bacteria, which can enter your skin while its barrier is compromised to cause breakouts and acne.

10. Anti-Inflammatory Diet

  • Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, such as fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens, berries, and nuts. These can help reduce overall inflammation in your body and benefit your skin. 
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated from the inside out.

11. Stress Management


  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Engage in stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Managing stress can help improve your skin’s condition. 
  • Get Adequate Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Proper sleep allows your skin to repair and regenerate.

12. Patch Testing

  • Test New Products: Always patch test new skincare products on a small area of your skin to ensure they don’t cause irritation or an allergic reaction.

By following these specific tips and incorporating gentle, hydrating, and soothing products into your skincare routine, you can effectively calm stressed-out skin and support the repair of your skin barrier.

5. Summary

Dealing with a stressed-out skin barrier, especially during pollen season in Toronto, requires a combination of the right ingredients and proper skincare practices. Incorporating soothing and reparative ingredients like allantoin, panthenol, ceramides, and niacinamide can significantly improve your skin's condition. 

And by following expert tips and maintaining a gentle and hydrating skincare routine, you can restore your skin's health and resilience, ensuring it remains calm and radiant even during high pollen seasons.

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