Intelligent Beauty


dark skin model showing her skin with multicoloured nails

Skin feeling perpetually dehydrated, flaky or irritated? A compromised moisture barrier might just be the culprit. Luckily, there are a few easy ways (and of course, superstar skin care products) to build your moisture barrier back to health.

Wondering what exactly your moisture barrier actually is? Think of it a bit like your skin’s first line of defence. Making up the uppermost layer of your skin from head to toe, the moisture barrier is the protective shield that keeps all the good stuff (think: essential hydration and skin-strengthening electrolytes) in — and the bad stuff (pollution, irritants and the rest) out.

A compromised moisture barrier — which can be due to anything from dehydration to environmental triggers to being a little overzealous with the exfoliation —  can lead to skin that looks and feels rough, dull, flaky or irritated. By comparison, a strong moisture barrier means dewy, smooth skin that glows.  

So if your moisture barrier could do with a little extra TLC, here’s our tips for how to keep it happy and healthy…

1.Repair, repair, repair

…Without doing too much else. If your moisture barrier has been compromised, the very first thing to do is to get it back into a healthy position. That means dialling back your regime to the very bare bones and instead choosing some specially formulated products that promise to speed up its recovery.

In a shelfie-ready pastel green bottle, Glow Recipe’s {Avocado Ceramide Recovery Serum} packs in a buffet of good-for-your-skin ingredients that promise to nourish your delicate barrier. That includes ceramides, your skin-strengthening secret weapon. Speaking of ceramides, Scientia’s {Ceramide Skin Rescue Moisture Barrier Balm} has them in abundance, alongside a cooling cocktail of hyaluronic acid, fatty acids and lipids, which mimic your skin’s natural building blocks to lock in and retain moisture. And for a real rich, reparative treat for your complexion, Allies of Skin’s {Molecular Barrier Recovery Cream Balm} feeds your skin overnight with instant moisture and relief. Trust us, the thick, balm-like texture of this one will feel incredibly restorative for dry or irritated skin.

2.Gently does it

When it comes to cleansing, that is. In those early stages of barrier repair, an extremely gentle, non-stripping cleanser is the key to keeping your skin healthy and clear without adding any additional stress.

For something exceptionally mild, look to CeraVe’s {Hydrating Cleanser}, an ultra-simple formula that enriches your complexion with ceramides (see, we told you they’d be your secret weapon!) and won’t disrupt the normal function of your moisture barrier. Avoiding that unwanted ‘tight’ feeling after cleansing is key too (it’s likely a warning sign that your cleanser is too harsh!), and we love COSRX’s {Low-pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser}’s pH-balanced formula. The rich lather won’t tip the scales on the slight acidity naturally found on your skin, meaning it will remain balanced and healthy. If you’re a devoted cleansing balm fanatic Cultured’s {Biome One Cleansing Balm} will offer the rich, nourishing texture you’re after, all while strengthening your skin and making it less prone to irritation, breakouts or oiliness.

3.Less is more

Once you’ve built your skin barrier back up, it’s important to keep it strong and healthy — which means taking a ‘less is more’ approach to potentially-sensitising actives and treatments. Opt for gentle formulas that nourish while also working to renew and revitalise your complexion.

If you find retinol can cause your skin unnecessary stress, bakuchiol may be an effective alternative with the same smoothing, clarifying effects as retinol — but without any of the potential side effects. The Inkey List’s {Bakuchiol Moisturiser} helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while stimulating collagen and improving skin’s elasticity. If you’re looking for a toner that will help to soften skin while supporting your moisture barrier, try Gallinée’s {Prebiotic Face Vinegar}, which utilises apple cider vinegar to soften, illuminate and protect your complexion. Or, if keeping breakouts at bay is more your bag, we think you’ll like BYOMA’s Clarifying Serum. With a cocktail of PHAs, antioxidants and ceramides, this clever concoction balances gently exfoliating and unclogging pores with soothing inflammation.

4.Lock in hydration

Want to keep the glowy, smooth complexion a strong moisture barrier affords you? The trick is to flood skin with long-lasting hydration, courtesy of hard-working, nourishing and non-irritating moisturisers and creams.

The ‘C’-word returns, via Dr. Jart+’s {Ceramidin Cream}. This rich cream feels thick to apply, but instantly melts into skin to offer thirsty complexions a necessary drink. At the heart of the formula is a clever five-ceramide complex that supplements and supports the ceramides that already exist in your skin. On the hunt for something specifically designed to care for your moisture barrier? The Nue Co.’s {Barrier Culture Moisturiser} has you covered, with a vegan cocktail of active ingredients (think: niacinamide, squalane, ceramides, probiotics, etc.) that parry dulling and balance upset skin. And for something really indulgent, BYOMA’s quick fix {Moisturising Rich Cream} offers seriously impressive hydration and a unique blend of barrier boosting tri-ceramides.

Chloe Lawrance

Chloe Lawrance

Senior Copywriter

Chloe is a Copywriter at Cult Beauty. She is a skin care fanatic and you can normally find her dispensing advice and recommendations to just about anybody that will listen (her cardinal rules? SPF daily; just say ‘no’ to face wipes; there’s no such thing as too much hydration). Chloe’s perfect day would be spent laying in the sun, a book in one hand and a cocktail (one spicy margarita, please) in the other. However, living in East London, the most she can usually hope for is sneaking 20 minutes with her Kindle and a pint in a pub garden.