PARIS, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 27: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) A model poses in firstlook backstage before the Isabel Marant Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on February 27, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kay-Paris Fernandes/Getty Images)

After the lockdown induced new-product-testing-frenzy of 2021, this year has seen us turn a corner, and has instead seen brands (and consumers) look towards product formulations that promise to soothe, replenish and strengthen the skin barrier.

The skin barrier is beauty-adjacent terminology used to describe the outer-most layer of our skin — or the layer that defends against pollutants, microbes and other environmental assaults. But when its damaged (either from lifestyle habits, or overuse of topical skincare) things go awry — think redness, roughness and sensitivity.

Fortunately, there are a range of effective formulas launching onto the market; those that afford both a nice skincare experience as well as unmatched protection. Shop our top picks below.

Augustinus Bader The Ultimate Soothing Cream, $290. SHOP NOW

With a cashmere-like texture, this superlative cream from Augustinus Bader combines evening primrose, panthenol, niacinamide and shea butter to comfort depleted skin. Like the rest of the range, it’s also rich in TFC8 for skin repair, while the rich base works to rebuild and support the skin barrier. If you’re perpetually dry, it makes a great daily moisturizer.

Go-To Skincare The Repair Shop Nourishing Repair Mask, $50. SHOP NOW

Just in from everyone’s favorite skincare brand comes The Repair Shop, a creamy blend of ceramides, buriti oil, glycerin and vitamin B5 to both hydrate, and then lock in said moisture. It’s main premise is to strengthen the barrier, so it’s an excellent antidote to post-procedure skin, or if you’ve accidentally over-exfoliated.

Tula 24-7 Moisture Hydrating Day & Night Cream, $54. SHOP NOW

Tula is a new-ish brand that launch into Mecca a few months ago, with the aim to nourish the complexion via barrier-building probiotics. The Hydrating Day & Night Cream specifically is a top-rated formula, rich in peptides, squalane, as well as pre- and probiotics to soften, hydrate and calm the skin. Slather it over your serums for best results.

Cultured Biome One Serum, $55. SHOP NOW
Another new, microbiome-focused brand is Cultured (from those who brought us REN Skincare). One Serum is a minimalist formula that works to support the barrier, boosting the skin’s natural defenses and anti-aging capabilities. It’s also got a delightful milky texture that’s supremely glowy. If you are sensitive, or looking for a brilliant soothing staple serum, this is a top choice. 

La Mer The Treatment Lotion, $125. SHOP NOW

La Mer’s signature Miracle Broth is an ingredient that’s drawn on the restorative properties of fermented ingredients long before it was trendy. Using kelp specifically, the just-launched new Treatment Lotion is a lightweight, watery formula that floods the skin with hydration, leaving it soft, cared-for and prepped for serums. Ingredient-wise, there’s also glycerin (a water-loving humectant), zinc gluconate (thought to accelerate healing) and nourishing plant botanicals. Press it into just-damp skin after cleansing before following up with the remainder of your routine.


Sisley All Day All Year, $264. SHOP NOW

All Day All Year is a new innovation from Sisley. Described as a “physical and biological shield”, the serum concentrate works to defend the skin against environmental stress, thus in turn strengthening the barrier. With ingredients like marshmallow polysaccharides, dandelion extract and adenosine, it’s a great formula for city dwellers, or anyone who wants to fight environmentally-triggered signs of aging.

SKINFIX Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser, $30. SHOP NOW

Abrasive cleansing is an easy way to accidentally leave your skin vulnerable. Thankfully, formulas such as this one afford a deep, effective cleanse without stripping the skin. pH balanced and containing gentle coconut-based surfactants, it has a luscious oily consistency that transforms into a light milk, quickly whisking away makeup, sunscreen and pollution without over drying.

TBH Skincare Rebound Serum, $59.95. SHOP NOW

Made in collaboration with skinfluencer and pharmaceutical scientist Hannah English, Rebound Serum is the latest launch from acne-focused skincare brand TBH. Designed specifically for reddened, irritated skin, it’s full of soothing ingredients like niacinamide, ceramides, panthenol, centella and zinc gluconate to hydrate, balance and soothe. As the name alludes, it’s also an excellent way to rebound should you accidentally indulge in too many accelerating acids.