Unless your face is red and inflamed, you're probably not thinking about your skin barrier (basically, your outermost layers of skin). Wrinkles? Yes. Pigmentation? Probably. But the integrity of your skin barrier? Doubtful.
Even though your skin's barrier function is one of the least sexy skin care concerns imaginable, it's also one of the most important. And dermatologists and scientists have been busy researching ingredients and creating products that will help you get the best skin barrier possible.
"2016 is the year of the skin barrier," says Texas dermatologist Sherry Ingraham, M.D. "Your skin barrier is like a brick wall — you want it to be as smooth as possible so it can reflect light and glow." Healthy barrier function also means quicker healing, less damage from things like sun and pollution and that your skin holds onto moisture longer. Essentially, the healthier your barrier, the healthier your skin.
If you have dryness or sensitivity, you'll definitely want to try one of these new creams with skin barrier repair technology — but really, they're great for anyone with, well, skin. We should all be thinking about optimal skin barrier function — even if it's unsexy AF.
Image via Imaxtree
Barrier Repair for Chronically Dry Skin
While many reparative creams contain ceramides to protect the skin's barrier, Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore, $125, contains a balance of ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol. And it's the cholesterol piece that's key for older skin types. "When you're younger, dry skin is a ceramide deficiency; older dry skin is a cholesterol deficiency," says Ingraham. By balancing the skin's lipids and restoring optimal barrier function with this cream, you get better texture, smaller pores and overall radiance. It even enhances fullness, which is important for older women.
Barrier Repair for Supersensitive Skin
Le Couvent des Minimes The Cream for Sensitive Skin, $18, is a calming, comforting cream that's gentle enough for small children. It contains a ton of soothing botanicals, but it's calendula extract that reinforces the skin barrier. While it may seem basic, it's simple in the best imaginable way.
Barrier Repair Plus Everything Else
The scientists at Cle de Peau took all their best technology and packed it into one wildly luxurious cream. Cle de Peau La Creme, $535, brightens, tightens, lifts and plumps — all while protecting skin from further damage. Understanding that a healthy skin barrier is necessary to achieve other skin improvements, they included an ingredient called SP Signal Controller — which is derived from hydrolyzed silk — to improve barrier function. Then, this cream gets to work on everything else.
Barrier Repair for Fighting the Elements
Even though it has "balm" in the name, Kiehl's Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm, $26.50, is surprisingly light. In addition to moisturizing, barrier-strengthening ingredients like glycerin and squalene, this cream contains Edelweiss flower extract, which reduces trans-epidermal water loss (a fancy term for dehydration) and strengthens the skin barrier. To put it to the test, Kiehl's asked skiers and adventure-seekers to use the product in extreme conditions in Alaska. After two weeks, they weren't just protected — they actually had better skin than when they set out.