Our skin barrier, also known as the moisture barrier, stratum corneum or acid mantle is made up of the uppermost layers of the skin, it’s watertight and protects the deeper layers of the epidermis from being damaged by irritants. A healthy skin barrier looks plump, hydrated, and smooth, but if the barrier becomes damaged it can feel rough, be red, dry, and uncomfortable. A compromised skin barrier can lead to more issues, as external aggressors like pollution particles make their way to the lower layers of skin, so it’s important to help repair any damage. A consistent skin routine that includes the ingredients and products detailed below will help. It's also important to use lukewarm water when washing your skin, because both cold and hot water can aggravate the skin's natural lipid balance.
Read our guide to discover the active ingredients and skincare products that will help to soothe and heal your skin barrier function.
Glacial glycoprotein is a naturally occurring compound found deep inside Antarctic glaciers. To survive in such an extreme environment, glacial glycoprotein has to be tough, so it’s no wonder it is a great skin protector. When included in skincare it helps to defend the skin against the drying effects of cold air and can provide long-lasting hydration. Glacial glycoprotein also helps to protect the skin against water loss, leaving it looking smoother and feeling softer over time.
Here at Kiehl’s we synthesise glacial glycoprotein in labs so as not to disturb the delicate balance of the Arctic ecosystem.
Ultra Facial Cream
You’ll find glacial glycoprotein in several of our products, and it’s a key ingredient in our Ultra Facial collection. Soothe and protect your skin barrier by reaching for our Ultra Facial Cream. This bestselling moisturiser provides instant hydration that lasts for up to 24 hours and helps to recover the skin barrier function 55%* faster.
* results based on an instrumental study on 29 subjects vs untreated site.
Skin protectant - colloidal oatmeal, is a natural ingredient that helps to calm and soothe dry, stressed skin. Surprisingly, colloidal oatmeal is actually derived directly from the porridge oats you might eat for breakfast, but don’t let that fool you, it’s a multitasking, sophisticated skin ingredient too. It works as an emollient – a treatment that coats skin in moisture to protect it from outside aggressors, while simultaneously working to reinforce the skin barrier. It’s naturally anti-inflammatory which is great for those suffering from uncomfortable skin conditions. Ideal for adding into your skincare routine during the winter months to give skin a softening boost that also protects, it’s a must-have ingredient for dry skin types.
Our brand new intensive repairing cream has the texture of a daily moisturiser, with the healing power of a balm. Enriched with (the aforementioned), calming, colloidal oatmeal, this fast-absorbing cream instantly relieves skin from redness and itchiness. Ideal for use as a daily moisturiser when the moisture barrier is compromised, this unique new cream instantly hydrates and repairs.
The outermost layer of skin, stratum corneum or skin barrier is made up of skin cells, ceramides, and natural fatty acids. The fatty acids or lipids, are essentially natural oils which keep skin hydrated and lubricated. Naturally anti-inflammatory, fatty acids care for the skin barrier and prevent trans-epidermal water loss – they help prevent the skin from drying out. Sensitive skin that feels parched, dry and uncomfortable will benefit from a dose of hydrating fatty acids.
Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask
To help repair a damaged skin barrier, reach for an intensive skin hydrating mask like our Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask . Packed with soothing, hydrating ingredients like avocado oil – a natural source of fatty acids that helps to restore the skin’s moisture balance. This rich and creamy mask also contains evening primrose oil which helps maintain skin elasticity.
Meet your new favourite multitasking ingredient! With hydrating powers that have been favourably compared to hyaluronic acid, we predict big things for beta-glucan this year. A polysaccharide or complex sugar that’s derived from yeast, funghi, or seaweed, this antioxidant helps to protect and soothe skin. Beta-Glucan forms an undetectable film over the surface of the complexion to help protect the skin from outside aggressors, while also fighting off any nasty bacteria that mounts an attack. It’s also a humectant, meaning it locks moisture into the skin and prevents dehydration throughout the day.
Our new Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream helps to soothe uncomfortable, itchy skin, while repairing a damaged skin barrier. Enriched with calming colloidal oatmeal and reparative humectant, beta-glucan. Our rich balm-to-cream formula absorbs quickly to help transform chapped, compromised skin into a soft, smooth surface.
This powerhouse ingredient is naturally produced by the body and works a bit like a magnet for moisture, pulling water into the skin and holding it within cells so they feel hydrated and plump. It can also be applied topically via skincare, and our skin will recognise it and use it accordingly, so it’s a top ingredient for helping to restore a damaged barrier. It’s also great for improving the look of fine lines and wrinkles, as skin cells filled with water look plumper and in turn, so does the surface of the skin.
Power Strength Pair: Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing & Dark Circle-Diminishing Vitamin C Eye Serum.
Our Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate contains hyaluronic acid to help support the moisture barrier while tackling fine lines and wrinkles. It also includes vitamin Cg, a derivative of vitamin C and a powerful antioxidant that activates once absorbed to help skin feel smoother and look more radiant. Dark Circle-Diminishing Vitamin C Eye Serum is formulated with 10% pure vitamin C, tri-peptide and hyaluronic acid and helps to visibly correct lines and under eye dark circles. It’s formulated specifically for the delicate eye area helping to strengthen, hydrate and brighten.
Our Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum is formulated to help strengthen skin and protect against environmental aggressors, including pollution. The easily absorbed, lightweight silky serum is enriched with glycerin and hyaluronic acid to help skin better retain moisture.
A signature Kiehl’s ingredient, we derive our squalane from olives. A lightweight, serum-like moisturising oil, squalane helps to replenish skin and prevent moisture-loss. Squalane has a very similar structure to squalene which is found naturally in human sebum, so when applied topically, our skin can put it to good use quickly and efficiently. A source of fatty acids it works to replenish skin, keeping it feeling soft, supple and moisturised.
A global bestseller, this daily moisturiser has a unique lightweight texture that sinks in quickly to provide up to 24-hour lasting hydration. Olive derived squalane helps to hydrate, while glacial glycoprotein helps to protect. This easily absorbed cream works to balance moisture levels no matter what environment your skin is in.
This potent anti-inflammatory also known as vitamin B3 has been enjoying its time in the spotlight recently as more and more people discover its fantastic skin benefits. As well as helping to control oil production, niacinamide works to strengthen skin barrier function and calm irritated skin. It’s ideal for sensitive skin, acne prone skin and for anyone suffering from redness or irritated skin.
Ideal for skin that is prone to breakouts, redness and roughness, this lightweight lotion contains exfoliating salicylic acid, alongside barrier strengthening ingredients like niacinamide and calming aloe vera. The soothing lotion can be used like a moisturiser, both morning and evening for a clear complexion. Insider tip – it’s great for blackheads too.
Glycerin is a humectant, which means it is an ingredient that’s able to pull water into the skin and retain moisture even when cold weather strikes. Glycerin also helps the skin’s natural lipids to stay healthy and efficient, meaning they can work to keep the skin barrier strong. A moisturising ingredient, this colourless, odourless liquid helps to soften skin with every application. In a similar way to hyaluronic acid, glycerin also works to plump up skin cells with hydration, meaning fine lines and wrinkles look smoother.
This efficacious hydrating serum can be used day and night after cleansing to help plump and smooth the appearance of skin. Infused with Epidermal Hydration Filler and 15% Glycerin, this hydrating, lightweight formula with patented Serum-to-Liquid Technology™ plumps skin with up to 120% more moisture** to visibly enhance skin’s smooth appearance and the feeling of elasticity. It works to improve skin texture and plump out fine lines and wrinkles, as well as hydrating. For all skin types, including sensitive skin.