Our reviewer, who has extremely dry skin and papulopustular rosacea, noticed more hydrated and less irritated skin after just three days of use. Allure commerce editor Sarah Han is a big fan and loves to pair the cream with the corresponding Ceramidin Skin Barrier Serum Toner ($39) for an extra punch of skin-softening goodness.
Best for Brighter Skin: SkinFix Barrier+ Triple Lipid + Collagen Activating Serum
This fast-acting Barrier+ Triple Lipid + Collagen Activating Serum is worth splurging on because it contains 10 clinical actives, including niacinamide and peptides, to give you visibly brighter-looking skin in just one hour according to the brand’s clinical studies. Dr. Saedi also loves the brand’s Best of Beauty-winning Barrier + Lipid Peptide Cream because it “contains a combination of peptides and lipids to smoothen and strengthen the skin barrier.”
Best for Post-Treatment Skin: SkinCeuticals Epidermal Repair
Although the texture of the Epidermal Repair lotion is light and airy, it should not be underestimated. You only need a pea-sized amount to nurse your skin barrier back to health after an intense facial treatment like laser resurfacing or microdermabrasion. It’s formulated with a soothing combination of sodium palmitoyl proline and nymphea alba flower extract to calm irritated skin and ease any discomfort.
Best for Treating Fine Lines: Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer with Retinol
Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer has a light, creamy texture that absorbs in seconds, visibly improves redness and uneven tone, and helps the skin look plumper. It also doubles as an elasticity-boosting treatment, thanks to its use of retinol which has been proven to visibly firm the skin and decrease the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
For the Skinimalist: Tower 28 SOS Daily Barrier Recovery Cream
Call the SOS Daily Barrier Recovery Cream basic — because that’s exactly what this no-frills, sensitive-skin-friendly moisturizer sets out to be. Drench your skin in hydration with four types of hydrating hyaluronic acid, plus barrier-boosting ceramides and calming allantoin to reel in redness and irritation day and night.
If you’ve been burned by moisturizers in the past, you’ll be glad to see that, like the other fragrance-free SOS (Save.Our.Skin) products, Daily Barrier Recovery Cream has the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association.
Dermatologist Go-To: Biopelle Tensage Stem Cell Cream
Dr. Clark-Loeser’s go-to barrier repair product is this Tensage Stem Cell Cream from Biopelle because it contains ceramides, which are fatty acids present in the skin that repair and maintain the skin barrier. In addition, it contains Biopelle’s trademarked CellPro Technology, which helps promote healthy stem cell function, further promoting a healthy skin barrier.
Best for Extremely Dry Skin: Caudalie Premier Cru The Rich Cream
For immediate relief from redness, flakiness, and peeling (a hallmark of a damaged skin barrier), consider this Premier Cru The Rich Cream from Caudalie. It errs on the pricier side of things, but it’s worth it to bathe your skin in a luxurious blend of lipid-replenishing bio-ceramides that prevent water loss. Did we mention that its sibling, The Cream, won a 2022 Best of Beauty Award? If you thought that formula was indulgent, just you wait.
Best Affordable Serum That Punches Above its Weight: KraveBeauty Great Barrier Relief
This creamy, nourishing Great Barrier Relief Serum from KraveBeauty is the perfect one-two punch as it restores your damaged skin barrier while simultaneously evening out your complexion. It’s loaded with reparative ingredients such as tamanu oil, niacinamide, and ceramides which are essential to skin health.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
Another one of Dr. Saedi’s top picks, this La Roche-Posay hydrator has a light consistency and contains ceramides and glycerin to strengthen the barrier and lock in moisture. It’s oil-free, making it a great option for those who suffer from acne-prone skin. Slather it on your face and neck daily for immediate comfort.
Best for Dry Patches: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream
This thick yet fast-absorbing cream feels sinful as you apply it, relieving dry patches, making the skin appear visibly smoother, and reducing redness. It contains a blend of glycerin, urea, and squalane which provide intense hydration to the skin. No level of dryness is too severe for this cream — here’s looking at you, scaly winter skin.
Best for Gentle Exfoliation: Cocokind Ceramide Barrier Serum
This reasonably-priced serum is specially formulated with five types of synthetic ceramides and lipids that mimic and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier. A little goes a long way — you only need two to three for your entire face. With regular use, you’ll notice a significant reduction in redness caused by ongoing skin irritation. Bonus: Lactic acid helps slough off dead skin cells so that the aforementioned goodness absorbs more deeply.
Best Lightweight Cream: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Rich Barrier Moisturizer
The lightweight cream is part of the same product family as the Best of Beauty-winning Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Hydrating Body Cream. In case you need further convincing of its hydrating powers, the soft and weightless formula is anchored by the brand’s patented moisture barrier-boosting complex which works to counter the effects of dehydrators and provide up to 120 hours of increased hydration.
Best for Eczema-Prone Skin: Murad Daily Defense Colloidal Oatmeal Cream
Another recipient of the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance, this cream contains a proprietary mixture of colloidal oatmeal, niacinamide, and mondo grass sugars, which retains essential moisture and lipids, strengthening the skin from within while also prolonging relief from eczema flare-ups. The sealed pump is also great for those of us who are prone to making a mess in the bathroom, and there’s less potential for the spread of bacteria.
Best Fragrance-Free Formula: Etude House SoonJung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream
Looking for a barrier repair cream that won’t irritate sensitive skin? This popular K-beauty pick has a low pH, uses 93 percent naturally-derived ingredients, such as panthenol and madecassoside, and is formulated without potential irritants like fragrance, artificial color, and parabens. It’s a real game-changer for anyone looking to soothe and hydrate their delicate skin.
Best All-Over Treatment: Nécessaire The Body Cream
As we all know, dryness doesn’t stop at the face or neck. That’s where Nécessaire’s The Body Cream comes in handy to soothe dry, flaky skin in often overlooked areas of our bodies. Formulated with five ceramides, colloidal oatmeal, five percent niacinamide, and one percent linoleic acid, this body cream replenishes a dry, damaged skin barrier by providing moisture, healing, and comfort.
Best Cleanser: Glow Recipe Avocado Ceramide Moisture Barrier Cleanser
Designed to visibly decrease redness and provide skin barrier support, this cleanser contains hydrating ceramides, strengthening prebiotics and postbiotics, and a soothing blend of colloidal oatmeal and avocado oil. Its milky lotion-to-foam formula is also great at removing makeup in a single, swift step — though we recommend kicking things off with an oil-based cleanser, such as a cleansing balm or oil, to remove stubborn, waterproof makeup. “I normally don’t think twice about my second-step wash but this one is sensorially so calming and pleasant to use and my skin actually feels soft and plush after two rounds of deep cleansing, a feat well worth noting,” Han says of the formula.
Best Nourishing Oil: Ole Henriksen HydraBarrier Nourishing Face Oil
Made with a blend of Scandinavian berry oils, peptides, and ceramides, this HydraBarrier Nourishing Face Oil from Ole Henriksen locks in necessary hydration, providing both short-term and long-term benefits. Lest you think this is one of those heavy, greasy formulas, this particular pick can be used both day and night to achieve a soft and hydrated appearance.