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You may have noticed the recent buzz around the skin barrier, aka your complexion’s first line of defense against the elements. It has two main jobs: to lock moisture in, and to keep irritants out. A well-functioning skin barrier is tantamount to your overall skin health, and after a long winter of barrier-weakening factors—cold air, hot showers, indoor heating—it makes sense that people are now looking to repair that oh-so-important coat of armor. To do this, Mona Gohara, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Connecticut, says you can use ingredients that strengthen your skin barrier.
“After a long winter, you may notice that your skin is ultra-dry,” Dr. Gohara says during an episode of Dear Derm. “The cold breaks down and weakens [the skin] barrier so that things aren’t working as smoothly as they should be, and hot water and heat have similar effects.”
Derms usually recommend moisturizing and restorative ingredients, like ceramides and oats, for repairing a compromised barrier. Ceramides are lipids that make up 50 percent of your skin—think of your skin cells as bricks, and ceramides as the mortar that holds them together. Harsh winter weather can strip away our naturally-occurring ceramides, and applying them topically can help replenish your supply. On the other hand, oats can have anti-inflammatory and soothing effects, and using oat-infused formulas on your skin can calm the irritation that often comes along with a compromised barrier.
Now that it’s getting warmer, you want to look for these ingredients in lighter formulas instead of heavy creams, especially if you have normal, oily, or combination skin. A lighter formula will give your skin the nourishment it needs without feeling heavy and making your skin feel greasy, so derms often suggest turning to gel-cream moisturizers or lightweight lotions this time of year.
Below, shop nine lightweight barrier repair moisturizers to strengthen your skin this spring.
Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream — $20.00 to $78.00
New from Skinfix, this lightweight gel-cream moisturizer is packed with lipids, peptides, small-particle hyaluronic acid, and rich shea butter. This combo works to brighten, firm, and plump your skin. The jar features a push top, allowing you to scoop up a dollop without digging your fingers in the tub.
Boscia Plant Stem Cell and Ceramide Barrier-Defense Moisturizer — $42.00
Build back your barrier with this Boscia moisturizer. It’s made with (you guessed it!) ceramides to help strengthen that protective armor by preventing moisture loss and protecting against environmental stressors. It also includes plant stem cells that are full of antioxidants to fight visible and invisible pollution and environmental stressors, and a nourishing blend of mango seed and shea butter to help soften and soothe skin.
The Nue Co. Barrier Culture Moisturizer — $65.00
This moisturizer contains prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics to repopulate your skin’s microbiome. Translation: give your barrier the good bacteria it needs to stay strong. Plus, it includes moisturizing squalane, soothing niacinamide, a complex of restorative peptides, and protective ceramides to reveal visibly plump, firm, hydrated skin.
EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex — $56.00
This lightweight lotion is made with five types of ceramides that replenish moisture loss and increase water retention. It also includes enzymes and essential lipids to strengthen your skin and promote cell turnover, leaving your skin bright and smooth.
SkinCeuticals Epidermal Repair — $78.00
Designed for sensitive, compromised skin, this repair lotion uses a concentrated blend of beta glucan and gotu kola extract to soothe your skin, mend your barrier function, and minimize rednes.
Stratia Liquid Gold — $49.00
Comprised of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids—the three main ingredients in sin’s moisture barrier—this lightweight moisturizer strengthens and replenishes your skin while locking in moisture.
Dermalogica UltraCalming Barrier Repair — $49.00
Soothe irritated skin with this repair lotion that’s packed with evening primrose, borage seed oil, and vitamins C and E to help restore barrier function and combat free radicals that can lead to inflamed and irritated skin. Plus, it contains oat and botanical actives that work to interrupt inflammatory triggers that lead to sensitization, while helping to minimize discomfort, burning, and itching.
Get more of Dr. Gohara’s dry skin tips:
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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.