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How to Moisturize Dry & Sensitive Skin with a Medical Barrier Cream

How to Moisturize Dry and Sensitive Skin with a Medical Barrier Cream

Having sensitive skin makes it difficult to find a good skin care product. Sometimes, it might not seem worth it to try something new when the last product made your whole face red. But sensitive skin needs healing and protection. Leaving it alone only exposes it to environmental aggressors, which is especially true for those with dry, sensitive skin.

Why a Moisturizer Alone Isn’t Enough

Compared with a normal complexion, dry skin provides less protection against potential irritants. That’s because dryness damages the skin’s protective barrier, leaving it exposed to UV light, pollution and any other aggressor that decides to stop by.

Typically, most people’s first instinct when trying to solve this issue is to grab a moisturizer. That’s because dry skin is often associated with moisture loss.

However, moisture loss is only half the story. It’s the skin’s moisture barrier that prevents moisture loss in the first place. When skin is dry or cracked, it’s a sign that the barrier has been compromised.

Most moisturizers only address surface-level dryness. They may provide some hydration, but they don’t repair the moisture barrier itself. Instead, they often use an inactive ingredient like petroleum to act as a physical barrier and keep water from being stolen by the air. Or, they use an ingredient like hyaluronic acid to attract and bind moisture. This does a great job of hydrating the skin’s surface, but it doesn’t solve the deeper problem of a compromised barrier.

This isn’t to say that moisturizers don’t have a valuable place in skin care. Many people can use them to great effect. But while moisturizers deserve a place in most regimens, those who struggle with frequent or severe dryness need something more. They need a barrier cream.

What is a Skin Barrier Repair Cream?

Barrier creams are like moisturizers in that they lock in moisture. But barrier creams go a step further by repairing the skin’s natural moisture barrier, which facilitates true healing and hydration.

According to Dr. Joel Schlessinger, board-certified dermatologist and CEO of

“The fundamental difference between moisturizers and barrier creams is the intent. Generally, barrier creams are much thicker and are meant to repair skin that is damaged while moisturizers are aimed at preventing damage.

“Both have their place, but if your skin is on the verge of problems or in trouble already, it is probably best to go with a barrier cream. Otherwise, moisturizers are likely fine!”

How to Use a Skin Barrier Cream

Step One: To maximize the results of your barrier cream, start by applying the FixMySkin 1% Hydrocortisone Healing Body Balm. With shea and coco butter, this balm will deliver essential support to the moisture barrier while hydrocortisone soothes inflammation.

Step Two: Apply a barrier cream to lock in moisture and support further skin nourishment. If you’re dealing with intense dryness, flakiness or a condition like eczema, this combination is a powerful way to calm and heal skin.

Finding the Right Barrier Cream

With all of the options for barrier creams out there, we decided to pull together some of our favorites to make your search easier. Restore hydration by incorporating one of these top barrier repair creams or lotions into your regimen.

Epionce Medical Barrier Cream

In addition to hydrating botanical ingredients, this cream for dry skin uses fatty acids from safflower seed oil to rebuild a damaged moisture barrier. Featuring a soothing blend of avocado and rosehip extracts, the Epionce Medical Barrier Cream helps skin recover from in-office procedures and unexpected reactions to aggressive cosmetics.

Epionce Medical Barrier Cream.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

Although labeled as a moisturizer, this product has the reparative qualities of a barrier cream. In addition to using glycerin to attract water to the skin’s surface, ceramides, a type of lipid, heal and repair the moisture barrier. Niacinamide, a vitamin B derivative, also helps with this healing while soothing red or irritated skin. Serving as the backbone of the repairing moisturizer is La Roche-Posay’s Thermal Spring Water. Sourced from France, this water contains minerals that impart the skin with antioxidant benefits, like protection against damage from pollution. With these protective components, skin stays hydrated for up to 48 hours.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer.

DefenAge 24/7 Barrier Balance Cream

For intense hydration, this barrier cream uses hyaluronic acid to bind moisture to the skin while niacinamide repairs the natural moisture barrier. It also uses antioxidants to protect against premature aging caused by environmental stressors. Additionally, a blend of amino acids promotes collagen and elastin production, filling in wrinkles and age lines. Because of this, it acts as an effective anti-aging treatment in addition to being a barrier cream.

DefenAge 24/7 Barrier Balance Cream.

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 Moisturizer

As mentioned earlier, lipids form the skin’s protective barrier. These lipids come in three main forms: ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids. Skin needs a balance of all three for true healing. SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 fulfills this with its ratio of 2% ceramides, 4% cholesterol and 2% fatty acids. This is the ideal ratio for the natural repair process, making it highly effective in restoring skin’s moisture barrier. Over time, this skin repair cream not only repairs the moisture barrier, but smooths skin texture and firms lax skin.

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 Moisturizer.

EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex

Using lipids in the form of ceramides and cholesterol, this cream repairs your natural moisture barrier. Hyaluronic acid binds moisture to the top layer of skin to prevent it from drying out while vitamin E provides additional hydration and free radical protection. This formula also uses enzymes from kiwi, pineapple and fig to gently exfoliate and increase cell turnover. This kind of exfoliation helps soften dry skin without causing damage.

EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex.

Do you know the difference between dry and dehydrated skin? Find out which product addresses your concern on our blog!

Build a regimen that won’t irritate your complexion with this selection of products suitable for sensitive skin on Do you have sensitive skin? Share tips or questions about sensitive skin care in the comments below!

About the Author

Evan is a content writer at LovelySkin who enjoys providing information to help people feel more confident about their skin care. In his spare time, he likes to read, write creatively and wander through used bookstores.

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