Whether you’re preparing for drier weather or simply looking for more ways to protect your skin, the best barrier creams all have one thing in common: They lock in moisture and block out environmental irritants. The nourishing benefits of these thick creams have everyone from dermatologists to celebrities embracing the trend. Below, I’ve detailed the best barrier moisturizers for a wide variety of skin-care needs, budgets, and areas of use, from the face to hands and body.
A Deep Dive Into The Ingredients
One of the keys to finding a solid barrier cream is to look for products that boast restorative ingredients like nourishing plant oils, ceramides, natural fats, and skin-boosting vitamins such as vitamin E and vitamin C. As cosmetic chemist Ginger King told Allure, vitamin E has "moisturizing and healing" benefits, and helps to "strengthen skin barrier function." And as board-certified dermatologist Patricia Wexler explained in Allure, the effectiveness of vitamin C increases when combined with an antioxidant like vitamin E: "Together they can double protection against free-radical damage."
Two other great ingredients to look for are dimethicone — which prevents moisture-loss by forming a hydrating barrier on the skin — and petroleum, which seals the skin with a water-protective barrier. Petroleum is the key ingredient in Aquaphor, and while the product made my list below for use on the body, Emily Ratajkowski told Into The Gloss that she uses it on the face: "When I want my skin to look really dewy, I’ll put Aquaphor under my eyes at night. It just makes my skin feel firmer and moist."
With all that in mind, it's time to shop for the best barrier cream for you. Whether you have sensitive skin or cracked hands, there's a moisture-rich cream below to satisfy your needs.
1. The Best Barrier Cream For Sensitive Skin
Epionce Medical Barrier Cream’s key ingredients include ceramides, shea butter, and hyaluronic acid — but it also contains a nourishing complex of plant oils like rose hip, safflower, and avocado to deeply hydrate and seal in moisture. Amazon shoppers give this barrier cream an impressive 4.7-star rating.
This pick works to relieve, heal, and protect very dry, rough, and damaged skin. It promises to be suitable for all skin types — but since it’s fragrance-free, sulfate-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, vegan, and dermatologist-approved, it’s particularly great for people with sensitive skin.
What fans are saying: “My dermatologist recommended this moisturizer for my face, and it's great for my sensitive, combination, acne-prone skin. It is reasonably priced and I am no longer searching for the right moisturizer. I will admit, I was bored one day at work and decided to try another cream instead — no bueno. Sticking with what the professional said and keeping my face moisturized and happy.”
2. A Hydrating Barrier Cream That Doubles As A Makeup Primer
Dermalogica Barrier Repair uses dimethicone to protect the skin’s barrier, while evening primrose oil, borage seed oil, vitamin C, and vitamin E help combat free radicals that can lead to inflamed and irritated skin. It creates a shield against environmental triggers that can break down the skin’s lipid barrier layer over time, and it's ideal for dry, stressed, and/or sensitive skin. It’s also designed to work as a makeup primer by creating a smooth, even base on the skin.
Additionally, this pick is free from parabens, gluten, artificial fragrances, and artificial colors. It’s also certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny.
What fans are saying: “I love how this product makes my skin feel really smooth and velvety. Foundation and other makeup just glides easily over my skin after a thin layer of application of Dermalogica Barrier Repair. A little goes a long way, and I no longer have to worry about uneven foundation application or having makeup streaks on my face!”
3. The Best Barrier Cream For Mature Skin
EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex uses a blend of dimethicone, ceramides, lipids, and antioxidants to help strengthen the skin’s barrier and restore its natural hydration system. Enzymes and vitamins — like biotin and tocopherol, a natural form of vitamin E — help reduce redness and promote skin cell turnover.
This pick’s advanced formula works to visibly plump the skin while improving skin texture and tone. It can be worn day or night, under makeup or by itself, and it's ideal for dry skin.
Additionally, this cream is paraben-free, fragrance-free, and promises not to clog pores. Amazon shoppers give this moisturizer a 4.2-star rating.
What fans are saying: “This moisturizer is wonderful. Light and smooth ... no greasy feeling at all. Does not cause breakouts and keeps your skin hydrated all day long. Your skin glows after use.”
4. The Best Barrier Cream For Lips, Hands, & Body
Aquaphor Healing Ointment is formulated with 41 percent petroleum to seal in moisture while also allowing oxygen to flow. This multipurpose ointment is specifically designed to restore and protect severely chapped, cracked, and dry lips, hands, and feet. It also works to soothe minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Plus, Amazon shoppers love this cream, giving it a 4.6-star rating and over 3,400 reviews.
What fans are saying: “After having to go to a dermatologist, my Dr. advised me to use this as my regular lotion. I have used this for dry areas and wounds before, but never all over. I have very dry skin and since I have used this as my regular cream/lotion after the shower, my skin feels and looks much better. It feels like a protecting layer, especially at night when I usually tend to itch. Always thought this would be way too thick, but it works. [...]"
5. The Best Natural Barrier Cream
Odylique Organic Barrier Cream is packed with nourishing, all-natural ingredients and can be used on the face, body, hair, and scalp. It contains coconut and olive oil, both of which are natural anti-inflammatory agents that work to repair the skin barrier. Plus, this pick includes moisturizing raw shea, anti-inflammatory beeswax, and cell-rejuvenating and UV-damage-protecting sea buckthorn extract. Additionally, Odylique is certified cruelty-free by PETA. And don't let the lack of reviews fool you: Odylique is a British natural skincare brand that's been around for more than 30 years and has earned a loyal following for its use of quality, organic ingredients.
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