From beauty maximalists to skincare novices, almost everyone owns a trusty moisturizer. And while it's an excellent addition to every routine, there's something on the market that blows this skincare staple out of the water. While moisturizers are designed to hydrate the outermost layer of the skin, barrier creams do so many things your basic face cream just can't. Here's everything you need to know about barrier creams and why your skin is currently missing out without one.
Also known as balms, salves, and ointments, barrier creams not only hydrate the skin, they work to repair damage, lock in moisture, and create a protective barrier—hence the name. In other words, they lock the good in and keep the bad out. While most moisturizers are water-based and absorb easier into the skin, barrier creams are commonly loaded with more emollient ingredients like petrolatum, wax, ceramides, dimethicone, zinc oxide, nicotinamide, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. This makes them thicker, which maintains a layer on the surface and protects the physical skin barrier. This is especially helpful when your skin's natural barrier isn't functioning properly on its own (think: eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, and acne) to shield against potential irritants.
Barrier creams can be used as the last step in your skincare routine (face and body) to create a protective seal that locks in your other products. Use it last in your daytime routine or slather it on over your anti-aging serum or peptides at night for an intensive hydration session. Just be sure to apply barrier cream last because any other product you apply afterward will not be able to penetrate the skin.
The famous Eight Hour Cream by Elizabeth Arden is a serious skincare icon. This blend of petroleum and lanolin will help to heal even the most chapped skin ASAP.
Formulated with 100 percent lanolin, this easily portable natural balm works wonders on cracked and chapped skin and lips that need a break from the elements.
The paraffin-based formula of this OG balm also contains glycerin, panthenol, and bisabolol, to soothe and condition skin that's feeling in need.
It may have been formulated for babies, but when your skin has adult-sized flare-ups, this gentle formula is exactly what you need to restore moisture.
Dimethicone in this hydrating cream protects the skin's barrier, while evening primrose oil, borage seed oil, vitamin C, and vitamin E help combat free radicals that can lead to inflamed and irritated skin.
This pick works to relieve, heal, and protect very dry, rough and damaged skin. And since it's fragrance-free, sulfate-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, vegan, and dermatologist-approved, it's particularly great for sensitive skin.
This is the original barrier cream your grandmother might still keep on her bathroom counter. It's simple and effective.
If you prefer a barrier cream that doesn't feel heavy on the skin, this every-day moisturizer is packed with ceramides, lipids, and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture without the thick feeling.
Developed for delicate, thinning skin, this barrier cream helps diminish the look of fine lines and deep wrinkles while improving firmness, elasticity, and radiance.
This cream uses 93% naturally derived ingredients to balance, hydrate, and soothe skin. With a low pH and free of potential irritants like fragrance, artificial color, and parabens, this cream will get even the most sensitive skin back up and running in no time.
A favorite of everyone from Margot Robbie to Victoria Beckham, this decadent cream features lipids to help support the skin's protective moisture barrier, creating a softer, more supple complexion with each use.
Although barrier creams can be used all year round, they're most important during extreme weather fluctuations (read: freezing temperatures), when our skin is most sensitive. This rich cream is specifically designed to help soothe, heal, and protect your skin from the elements, particularly those of the snowy variety.
The ultimate healing ointment, this rich cream is clinically proven to help speed the recovery process from cuts, burns, cracking, and other forms of skin discomfort.
For those living in big cities, squalane and fatty acids help repair damage from the environment, such as pollution (like smog) and free radicals.
Fan-favorite Aesop uses carnauba waxes and a castor-based formulation to create a barrier but also deeply hydrate even the driest skin.