Also known as balms, salves, and ointments, barrier creams not only hydrate the skin, they work to repair damage, lock in moisture, and create a protective barrier—hence the name. In other words, they lock the good in and keep the bad out. While most moisturizers are water-based and absorb easier into the skin, barrier creams are commonly loaded with more emollient ingredients like petrolatum, wax, ceramides, dimethicone, zinc oxide, nicotinamide, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. This makes them thicker, which maintains a layer on the surface and protects the physical skin barrier. This is especially helpful when your skin’s natural barrier isn’t functioning properly on its own (think: eczema, rosacea, dermatitis, and acne) to shield against potential irritants.
Barrier creams can be used as the last step in your skincare routine (face and body) to create a protective seal that locks in your other products. Use it last in your daytime routine or slather it on over your anti-aging serum or peptides at night for an intensive hydration session. Just be sure to apply barrier cream last because any other product you apply afterward will not be able to penetrate the skin.