According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Melissa Levin, MD, the skin barrier is the outermost layer of the epidermis that serves as the front line against protecting us from toxic chemicals, pollution, bacteria, viruses, infection, ultraviolet light and more. This ultra-protective defense system is densely packed with fatty lipids that keep skin healthy and well-hydrated. "Many factors can disrupt these beneficial fats, which can then damage the skin barrier, such as cold weather, harsh cleansers and soaps, prolonged water exposure, over-exfoliating the skin and underlying inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis," Levin explains. If inflammatory skin conditions aren't already an issue, with repeated exposure and a compromised barrier, they can pop up, flare and worsen. Yikes!
Now that we finally understand those two words that seem to be everywhere in the world of skin care, it's time to learn how to care for our skin barrier. "I recommend and prefer moisturizers that not only moisturize but also repair the balance of these beneficial fats," Dr. Levin says. "Other ingredients in moisturizers treat the symptoms of dry skin rather than the causes of dry skin, which rely on two categories of ingredients called occlusives and humectants. Where occlusives are ingredients that coat the skin surface to prevent water from evaporating, humectants are ingredients that bind water and draw water into themselves and onto the surface of the skin, causing the skin to plump up a little bit." When used together, these ingredients help maintain a healthy skin barrier, lessening the likelihood of inflammation of any kind.
Ahead, you'll find 11 skin care products, ranging from creams and oils to masks and serums, that help repair and protect the skin barrier for your most hydrated, healthy complexion yet.
Image via @dermalogica
Dermalogica Barrier Defense Booster, $75
Farmacy Honey Potion, $56
NeoStrata Skin Active Antioxidant Defense Serum, $78
Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil, $72