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11 Products That Protect and Repair the All-Important Skin Barrier

Did you know that your skin's moisture barrier can make or break your complexion?
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If you've noticed more skin care products lately claiming to protect and repair the skin barrier — or moisture barrier — you're not alone. Suddenly, we're being told that our barrier must be safeguarded at all costs for optimal skin health. But what exactly is the skin barrier?

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

Allow us to introduce you to Levin's favorite moisturizer. Formulated with oat oil to soothe, nourish and moisturize to restore balance to sensitive skin, this concentrated oil booster relieves dryness and repairs the skin barrier in such a way to prevent against future damage. While this product alone is an all-around winner, Levin loves the way it pairs with the hyaluronic acid-based Dermalogica Calm Water Gel, $48, to create the best moisturizing duo, especially for sensitive skin.

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Farmacy Honey Potion, $56
It's no secret that honey heals a sore throat, but it's also great for protecting the skin barrier. With this healing, antioxidant-rich honey face mask, you'll be able to sit back and relax while deeply hydrating, soothing and revitalizing your skin for the day ahead.

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Ready to revive your skin? Grapeseed extract, vitamin E and Chinese tea extract combine to provide your skin with powerful antioxidants to defend against free radicals and outside pollutants. As if that weren't enough, apple and coffee extracts work to brighten the skin for an all-around revived appearance. The result? A hydrated, nourished, protected skin barrier that looks and feels better than ever.

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Fatty acids are the key to a healthy, happy, protected skin barrier. To give your skin the TLC it deserves, drench it in plum oil, an antioxidant-rich, omega fatty acid combo to balance, refresh and restore the barrier function that's so essential in your skin's health. What's more, plum is a natural UV sunscreen booster, so your skin will be protected against solar UV rays, too.

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