Honestly, I Love It: The Barrier-Repair Cream That Just Might Work Miracles


Welcome to Deep Reviewsyour one-stop destination to discover the absolute best products and brands the beauty industry has to offer. Every month, the Who What Wear staffers you already know and trust will research, test, and review the market's most sought-after and buzzed-about products to see which formulas (of the hundreds up for consideration) are truly worth your hard-earned money and attention. You can expect honest, completely uncensored feedback and no-BS recommendations our hard-to-please testers endorse without reservations. To put it simply, stick with us, and buyer's remorse will be a thing of the past.


(Image credit: @ktberohn)

The majority of our Deep Reviews will feature our editors' honest, ultra-hot takes on wider product categories or multiple products within a particular beauty brand, but every so often, we'll sprinkle in a special single-product format called Honestly, I Love It. As the name suggests, these reviews will hone in on one standout beauty formula our editors quite literally can't shut up about. This time around, I'm highlighting Kiehl's Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream ($48), a soothing face cream that intensively repairs skin and soothes irritation. 

On a good day, my skin can be categorized as dry. On a not-so-good day, my skin can be categorized as very dry, and on a bad day, it gets into the desert-like category. As a Colorado native, I'm used to dealing with dry skin, particularly when the temperatures start to drop. That's thanks to the state's high altitude and lack of water sources, which tend to make you feel like you just stepped into a dehydrator that zaps every drop of moisture out of your body the second you go outside. 

Since moving to New York, my skin is less dry. This makes sense, as the average humidity percentage in New York hovers somewhere around 65%, while Colorado's average humidity percentage is just 33%. In fact, I've gotten used to how my skin feels in this more humid climate—it's still dry, but it's never been as bad as it is when I'm in my home state. 

Fast-forward to this fall. There's no good way to describe what happened to my skin other than it started absolutely freaking out. Chalk it up to stress, poor sleep, too many hot showers, hormones, the food I was eating… I don't know if I'll ever know for sure what the culprit was, but it was bad.

I went from having dry skin that could be pretty well controlled with a rich face cream and a moisturizing eye product to skin with stubborn dry patches, irritated red spots, uneven texture, and overall dullness. I tried every trick up my sleeve to no avail. I stuck to very basic products that I knew didn't irritate me and used ointments on the dry patches—you name it. I was about to throw in the towel and see if my derm could prescribe me a steroid cream when Kiehl's new Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream came across my desk.

After a meeting to learn all about the product with the brand's consulting dermatologist, Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD, and global scientific director, Nancy Ilaya, PhD, I had a pretty good feeling about the new cream. I thought, "What the hell" and cut out every other skincare product in my regimen to see if the barrier-repair cream could be the ticket to solving my skin woes. I figured I would give it two weeks, and if my skin was still FTFO, I'd book a dermatologist appointment ASAP. 

Spoiler alert: After two weeks of using this cream, I became a devotee. Not only did the pesky dry patches on my right eyelid and forehead nearly completely disappear, but my skin texture also smoothed out. My face also went from dull to noticeably glowy, and most importantly, I felt confident in my own skin (sans makeup) again. 


(Image credit: @ktberohn)

Don't just take it from me. Especially if you're suffering from similar issues, listen to the experts. I reached out to Henry to get the lowdown on this barrier-repair cream and what makes it work so well against dry, irritated skin. 

Henry explains that the Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream is designed to help restore skin's natural moisture. "Formulated with the humectant beta-glucan and colloidal oatmeal, this cream is great for those with dry and sensitive skin, especially in the winter months," she says.


(Image credit: @ktberohn)

Henry explains that beta-glucan works similarly to hyaluronic acid by locking moisture inside the skin, but it differs by also forming a film on the skin that acts as a moisture-trapping barrier. Colloidal oatmeal is an antioxidant that also forms a barrier on the skin while working to soothe irritation. "With the help of these anti-inflammatory ingredients, the balm-to-cream texture helps relieve tension from the skin, resulting in a smooth and patch-free surface," she says. She adds that the cream is able to relieve dryness through up to 10 layers of skin and mimic skin's lipid structure by using a proprietary multi-lamellar technology.

While anyone can benefit from Kiehl's barrier-repair cream, it's best for dry, sensitive skin that's particularly reactive to arid, cold climates. "It is a versatile product that is made to be used daily or as a rescue treatment when you're feeling extremely dry," says Henry. 


(Image credit: @ktberohn)

Let's talk about my own experience using the product. I used Kiehl's barrier-repair cream morning and night for two weeks, with no other additional skincare products (except for a gentle cleanser), and I gradually noticed a difference with each day of continued use. By now, I've gone through an entire tube and am already onto my second.


(Image credit: @ktberohn)

If you have dry skin like I do, this product just might be your ticket to plumper, dewier, more hydrated skin. Believe me when I say it's possible to have moisturized skin in the winter, even if you're used to your skin being bone-dry. The Kiehl's Advanced Repair Barrier Cream proved this to me. Honestly, I love it, and my skin has never looked better.

Other Kiehl's products I swear by:

Next, I've Received 47 Compliments on My Skin Since I Started Wearing This Foundation

Associate Beauty Editor

Katie Berohn is the associate beauty editor at Who What Wear. Previously, she worked as the beauty assistant for Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and Prevention magazines, all part of the Hearst Lifestyle Group. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a major in journalism and minor in technology, arts, and media, and earned her master's degree at NYU's graduate program for magazine journalism. In addition, Katie has held editorial internships at Denver Life magazine, Yoga Journal, and Cosmopolitan; a digital editorial internship at New York magazine's The Cut; a social good fellowship at Mashable; and a freelance role at HelloGiggles. When she's not obsessing over the latest skincare launch or continuing her journey to smell every perfume on the planet, Katie can be found taking a hot yoga class, trying everything on the menu at New York's newest restaurant, or hanging out at a trendy wine bar with her friends.