Thursday, May 30, 2024

10 Top-Rated Barrier Creams for Intense Repair and Protection

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Anyone whose skincare routine contains retinol, AHAs or BHAs, and other active ingredients understand the true power of a barrier cream. Think of a barrier cream as a bandaid that protects your skin and helps prevent any further damage. Typically, these types of products are thicker in texture and contain nourishing ingredients like aloe, shea butter, or hyaluronic acids.

If your main skincare woes are hyperpigmentation and fine lines or wrinkles, chances are you’ve seen what a damaged barrier looks like. “The key to healthy glowing skin is a strong skin barrier. Once it’s damaged it will appear dull, dry, and rough and lead to inflammation like redness, itching, acne breakouts, and discoloration,” Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, a California-based, board-certified dermatologist, tells

  • 1

    Best For Dry Skin

    Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Therapeutic Multi Purpose Cream La Roche-Posay

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  • 2

    Best For Beginners

    Lala Retro Whipped Cream Drunk Elephant

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  • 3

    Best For Redness

    Intense Recovery Complex Azimid Skincare

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  • 4

    Best Affordable Option

    Durable Barrier Cream 3M Cavilon

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  • 5

    Best For All Skin Types

    Ceramidin Skin Barrier Moisturizing Cream Dr. Jart+

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Without proper skin protection, you’ll continue to encounter more skincare troubles and may even damage your skin more. If you buy another new skincare product this week, let it be a barrier cream. Scroll down for 10 of the best to choose from.


Best For Dry Skin

La Roche-Posay

Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Therapeutic Multi Purpose Cream


Best For Beginners

Drunk Elephant

Lala Retro Whipped Cream


Best For Redness

Azimid Skincare

Intense Recovery Complex


Best Affordable Option

3M Cavilon

Durable Barrier Cream


Best For All Skin Types

Dr. Jart+

Ceramidin Skin Barrier Moisturizing Cream


Best For Extremely Dry Skin


Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream


Best Retinol Moisturizer

Paula’s Choice

RESIST Barrier Repair Moisturizer


Best For Intense Repair

Soon Jung

2x Barrier Intensive Cream


Best For Slugging


Hydra Balm


Best For Eczema

First Aid Beauty

Ultra Repair Cream

What damages your skin barrier?

A lot of factors can wear down your skin’s barrier. But what is the skin barrier? “Your skin is made up of several different layers and the outermost layer is your moisture layer, also called your skin barrier. Its job is to keep the bad stuff out and the good stuff in so your skin remains healthy and happy,” she explains.

Think of your skin as a brick-and-mortar wall. “Structurally, the bricks are the skin cells and the mortar is made up of proteins, lipids, and oils that keep the wall strong and intact. When you over-exfoliate and cut into that wall or you over-cleanse or over-strip the skin of its natural oils, you start to damage and break down this very important structure,” she adds. Damage occurs when you scrub your skin too hard or even wax excessively. Shirazi adds that using too many actives can be damaging. “Using a glycolic acid exfoliating cleanser, then a BHA toner can cause over-exfoliation and dehydration of skin cells. Stress, hormones, and disruption of your skin’s microclimate also play a role in damaging your skin barrier,” she says.

What ingredients help strengthen the skin barrier?

Products that contain hydrating ingredients are always best. Look for “hydrating ingredients that replenish the water content and ingredients with anti-inflammatory products,” she says. Shirazi also recommends pausing any active skincare products “to allow the skin to reset and renew itself.” Your skincare ingredients shopping list should include “hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides, beta-glucan, ceramides, lipids, oat complexes, pantheon, cholesterol, squalene, and niacinamide,” she says.

Is slugging good for the barrier?

Slugging works in the same way as a barrier cream, as it serves as a protectant to soothe and replenish hydration in the skin. Dr. Shirazi is a fan of the skincare practice. “Using an occlusive balm overnight like Vaseline can prevent trans-epidermal water loss to hydrate the skin and protect the skin’s surface to allow self-repair,” she says. Before you start slugging, make sure to remove all traces of makeup “because slugging can trap anything that’s on the skin’s surface, sometimes making it worse. Avoid strong actives like retinol or exfoliants and simply slug on top of clean moisturized skin.”

Dr. Azadeh Shirazi is a California-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of La Jolla Dermatology & Laser Surgery Center who specializes in cosmetic dermatology.

Nerisha Penrose is the Beauty Commerce Editor at Since joining in 2017, she has interviewed countless skincare professionals and has personally tested the latest and greatest products across makeup, skincare, and hair care.

Beauty Commerce Editor Nerisha is the beauty commerce editor at, covering all things beauty (and fashion and music).

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