Recent advances in skin ‘barrier’ research


Correspondence: Anthony V. Rawlings, AVR Consulting Ltd, Northwich, Cheshire, CW9 8FH, UK. E-mail:


Objectives Our knowledge on the complexity of stratum corneum biology, chemistry and biophysics has grown over the last decade. This and the intricate control mechanisms in the stratum corneum that bring about its full and proper structural maturity will be reviewed.

Key findings The importance of the total architecture of the stratum corneum in relation to desquamation and barrier function, the role of the corneodesmosomes and their degrading enzymes, new insights into the importance of natural moisturising factor and the emerging knowledge on the chemical antimicrobial barrier of the stratum corneum are discussed.

Summary Despite our increasing knowledge of the complexity of stratum corneum, we are still far from understanding its intricate control mechanisms that bring about its maturity and desquamation.