The moment you feel your skin is susceptible to irritations and strong reactions, it might be the time you add a barrier repairing product to your skincare regimen. Before tailoring a skincare routine according to your skin type and concerns, you must ensure your skin barrier is healthy and strengthened. The skin barrier is *super* important as it protects against pollution, dust, bacteria, UV, so taking care of it should always be your main priority. It’s just like an infantry army meant to defend and protect while assures no resources are lost (water and fatty acids in this case). It has two main roles that you’d want to support by all means: it prevents bacteria from entering the skin while stops water evaporation (so-called trans-epidermal water loss). Thus, a product meant to repair your barrier is infused with skin-strengthening ingredients, ones that help lock in moisture and block external irritants.
I talked about how to strengthen your skin barrier, but I never mentioned the best products you can use to repair and maintain a healthy skin barrier.
OK, short recap, skin is made up of three main layers, each having several sublayers with different roles. The topmost layer, aka the epidermis or the stratum corneum, is the skin barrier. Commonly called the “brick wall”, the skin barrier consists of fatty acids, ceramides, cholesterol, lipids, and protein layers, serving as the first body’s first defense line against external aggressors. More than that, it has the role of keeping water inside. Otherwise, the skin would be dehydrated, dull, and wrinkled. Thus, the need to protect it is FR. A broken skin barrier leads to concerns like dry skin, premature aging, sensitivity, or even breakouts. Who wants that? Bah! I thought so..
What happens to a broken skin barrier?
When your barrier is broken, skin feels dull, dehydrated and breakouts or irritations may arise. For instance, sensitive skin may be a sign that your barrier is weakened. If your skin starts to react to products you’ve been using for a long time, most probably, your barrier is disrupted. On the flip side, when the barrier is preserved, skin stays moist and firm.
Ingredients that can repair the skin barrier
Gee, I bet you’re disappointed to hear your skin barrier can be so easily damaged. But here comes the good news: you can build up your skin barrier in no time with the right products. Since you’re already here, no room for doubts, you’ll fix your protective barrier ASAP. The best products intended to promote a healthy skin barrier are the ones that create a physical barrier between skin and environment, shielding the skin against free radicals. Either we talk about a cream, serum, or a facial mask, all products meant to repair skin barrier have in common one thing: moisture and protection.
Restorative ingredients come from nature in nourishing essential oils, nutritious plant extracts, or vitamins. The best vitamins for repairing the skin barrier are A, C, and E. While vitamins A and E are deeply hydrating and healing, vitamin C is the one that boosts collagen formation, and when combined with vit E, their antioxidant potency increases. Antioxidants are gold when it comes to a healthy skin barrier. If your skincare routine lacks antioxidants, the chances of your skin barrier role failing are higher since their absence drive to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress happens when there’s an imbalance between free radicals activity and antioxidant activity. If there are more free radicals than antioxidants can keep in balance, these free radicals can damage the fatty tissue, lipids, and proteins, resulting in dull-looking skin.
How do I begin rebuilding my protective barrier?
Since the skin barrier consists of ceramides, lipids, fatty acids, and proteins, replenishing these elements comes as the main priority. It sounds just fair. Now, you need emollients, as much as you need occlusives and humectants. They all work on supplying the skin with hydration and moisture, each with its own role. You need them because when skin is dry, it means there are open spaces in your skin cells, and it’s that space that allows free radicals to enter the skin — you definitely want to dodge that.
Emollients are rich, and usually, they come in gels or creams, having the role of speeding up the barrier restoration. Oils, esters, butters, lipids, and fatty acids are considered the best emollients. Humectants have the function of counteracting the drying effects by taking water molecules from the air and pulling them into the skin’s surface. Hyaluronic acid, B5, urea, and glycerin are some great humectants. Occlusives work as a physical barrier that helps prevent water loss from the skin’s surface due to their thick formulas (waxes and oils). Why did I just mention the three of them? Because you need this trifecta to repair your skin barrier.
Pro tip: Squalane, fatty acids, ceramides, shea butter, coconut oil, all these ingredients contain elements that mimic the skin barrier’s structure.
Beauty comes from within, or you are what you eat are not myths. Dehydrated, sensitive skin may also be a sign that your body doesn’t receive enough nutrients. Guess who’s the MVP here? You got that right: collagen. It’s been shown that oral collagen supplements increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density. So what are you waiting for? Try some collagen supplements too! Vitamin C, fish oil, probiotics, vit D — all have a role in improving your skin’s barrier function and keep your skin moisturized from within.
What to avoid
But before you add to your skincare routine products meant to repair your skin barrier function, there are a few tips you might want to consider:
- Simplify your skincare routine – keep the three basic steps (cleanser, serum, moisturizer)
- Dodge treatments like chemical peelings, microneedling, or laser interventions for a while
- Harsh products (exfoliants, peelings, scrubs)
- No, no to drying ingredients (alcohol, fragrances)
- Soap bars, astringents, or other elements that may disrupt your pH
- Don’t stay in the sun (unprotected!)
10 Best Skin Barrier Restorative Products
Without further ado, these are the best products you can use to repair your skin barrier and keep it healthy as long as possible.
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
Boost skin barrier with this so much praised rich moisturizer and winner of Instyle Best Beauty Buys. 2:4:2 means 2% ceramide, 4% natural cholesterol proven to accelerate barrier recovery, and 2% fatty acids that help the structural integrity of skin lipids. On top of this trio, this barrier repairing moisturizer is made with an essential oil blend for a cooling (mint) and nourishing (lavender, rosemary) feeling. It worths a try!
Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream
Apply this restorative cream twice daily to strengthen your skin barrier in no time. Formulated with postbiotic, rich in proteins to help skin restoration, a copper-zinc complex that promotes recovery, Avene thermal water softens the skin while glycerin and beeswax hydrate. All this improves skin condition preventing external aggressors’ further damage.
Dermalogica MultiVitamin Power Recovery Mask
A cult-favorite recovery mask filled with vitamins A, B5, E, F nourishes and maintains the skin moisture barrier, plus vitamin C to brighten the skin and boost collagen. On top of that, it’s made with lactic acid to fight wrinkles and aging signs by exfoliating the skin. Every time you use this mask, it infuses your skin with beneficial nutrients that aim to recover your skin barrier and protect it further. Just 15 minutes once a week is enough to help your barrier regain its defensive role again.
Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Night Cream
If you’re looking for a night product to work at repairing your barrier while you sleep, look no further. The tri-enzyme technology encourages cell renewal, the extract of samphire plant, and white truffle (mushrooms) helps support the natural skin’s microflora. That’s not everything: Elemis resurfacing cream is infused with glycerin, shea butter, rice powder, jojoba oil, and vitamin E, all known for their moisturizing properties. You can hit the hay in peace, knowing you’ll wake up with quenched skin.
Murad Nutrient-Charged Water Gel
Three words to describe this moisturizer: lightweight, plumping, repairing. It does all this helped by vitamins, minerals, and peptides, the MVP blend of nutrient-infused ingredients that strengthen the skin barrier. OK, and a few others: ceramide, niacinamide, amino acids to help restore your damaged barrier, locking in hydration for up to 5 days! Its water-light gel formula is absorbed fast by the skin, locking moisture in.
Juice Beauty Signal Peptides Firming Serum
If you’re into organic skincare, this serum might be your final stop. It addresses skin that lacks firmness and elasticity, with rice peptides, plant-derived hyaluronic acid, plant lipids to boost hydration and protect the skin barrier, shea butter, vitamin E, and an organic oil blend to nourish the skin. The antioxidants in it protect your skin against free radicals damage while it’s infused only with organic ingredients.
Tata Harper Fortifying Moisturizer
Another vegan formula, meant to protect your skin barrier while being clean and healthy. Delivering a cocoon-like barrier, it fortifies, hydrates, and defends every time you apply it. The silky formula is filled with shea butter, squalane, and a mix of oils and plant extracts that nourish the skin and fortify its defensive barrier. Its silky texture goes on the skin smoothly, providing immediate nourishment while it’s absorbed faster than a fighter jet.
Lancome Visionnaire Nuit Beauty Sleep Perfector
Is your skin striving for moisture? Cuz’ this gel-to-oil moisture may do the job, even very well! Lancome includes in its formula a high concentration of glycerin, ceramides, and four plant-based oils to work while you sleep at repairing your skin barrier. Deeply moisturizing yet greaseless and with a silky-smooth texture, this cream makes your skin wake up refreshed, smoother, and plumped the next day, and more elastic in the long run. Best of both worlds!
Aveda Botanical Kinetics Hydrating Rich Creme
With a velvety, rich texture, this moisturizer delivers energy, moisture, and healthy nutrients. From caffeine, algae extract, palm oil, cupuaçu butter, hyaluronic acid to salicylic acid, this moisturizer has it all to replenish skin’s moisture reserve and helping recharge skin cells. Really, it doesn’t need more of a presentation; it’s terrific!
Strivectin Wrinkle Recode Moisture Rich Barrier Cream
Made with a broken skin barrier in mind, this moisturizer’s got all it needs to comfort your skin and replenish its moisture. Not only that, but it also works to diminish fine lines, wrinkles, and redness for sublimely soft, even, and radiant skin helped by peptides, squalane, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, aloe extract, fatty acids, ceramides, and a combination of plant and flower extracts. It’s the missing piece to your ever-expanding skincare routine if you want to reinforce your skin barrier.