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Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it has its work cut out for it. Each of its many layers has its own role in helping to protect your body.

Your skin barrier, or stratum corneum, is the outermost layer of skin. Although it’s thin, you can think of it like a brick wall. It’s made of strong skin cells known as corneocytes, which are held together by mortar-like lipids.

This layer of skin also contains keratin and natural moisturizers. Plus, the lipid layer also has cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides.

Melanie Palm, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Solana Beach, California explains that the skin barrier is important to our ability to retain water, protect us from unwanted chemicals or exposures, and help us resist infections.

“It protects our internal organs and systems from the outside and acts as a barrier to toxins, environmental exposures, and light, and helps regulate temperature and comfort,” she says.

It’s possible for the skin barrier to become damaged, meaning it won’t work as efficiently. However, there are tons of products out there that are made to help protect and repair the skin barrier — which is different than simply offering hydration like normal moisturizers do.

To create this list, we looked for products with ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. We also included pH balancing products.

Each of the products on our list has been carefully vetted by our content integrity team to make sure it adheres to our medical and business standards. Learn more here.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $30
  • $$ = over $30

Best pH balancing skin barrier repair product

Xuyoni Synergy Booster

  • Price: $$
  • Skin type: all, including sensitive and damaged skin
  • Size: 50-milliliter (mL) container

Maintaining your skin’s natural pH level is an important part of keeping your skin barrier healthy.

This multitasking toner and serum does just that, working to balance pH and moisturize your skin. It should be applied directly after cleansing.

The product contains organic moringa oleifera leaf extract — which the brand says can help to detox skin that’s been exposed to pollutants and environmental stressors.

Moringa leaves are also rich in sulfur, iodine, and amino acids, which Xuyoni says helps with firming and repairing. They also explain that the formula uses antioxidants from vitamins and polyphenols for an added youthful glow.

With 96 percent organic ingredients, this product is vegan and cruelty-free.

Best budget skin barrier repair product for breakouts

Krave Beauty Great Barrier Relief

  • Price: $
  • Skin type: acne-prone skin, skin with hyperpigmentation
  • Size: 45-mL bottle

This vegan barrier serum contains 10 percent oil made from tamanu nuts, which means there’s a possibility that those with nut allergies may have an allergic reaction.

However, if you don’t have nut allergies, this ingredient could be beneficial for your skin. The company says tamanu oil helps with improving texture and breakouts, while also reviving skin. The oil also helps to lock in moisture, keeping your skin barrier healthy.

It also contains niacinamide, another skin care ingredient thought to help with acne, dark spots, and eczema. The formula also includes rose hips and safflower for soothing the skin.

This pick is cruelty-free and free of fragrances, essential oils, and colorants.

Best skin barrier repair product for mature skin

Paula’s Choice Barrier Repair Moisturizer with Retinol

  • Price: $$
  • Skin type: mature skin
  • Size: 50-mL bottle

This creamy formula works on nourishing dry skin and also addresses aging skin concerns like wrinkles. This is thanks to its use of retinol — the popular vitamin A derivative known for its wrinkle-diminishing and acne-managing effects.

If you’re new to retinol, this product may be a good one to start with, since it only contains 0.01 percent retinol. This may help lessen the possibility of irritation.

Many Google reviewers praise this pick for its firming and hydrating abilities, while others note the price tag is a bit bigger than the bottle. A couple of other comments point out that the packaging is a downside, saying some product seems to get stuck in the pump.

Best budget skin barrier repair product with multiple ceramides

Cocokind Ceramide Barrier Serum

  • Price: $
  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Size: 30-mL bottle

This pick contains five types of ceramides — an ingredient that can help reinforce the skin barrier and lock in moisture. That makes it a good pick for fine lines and wrinkles, since they tend to be more visible on dry skin.

The formula also contains lipids, including fatty acids, cholesterol, and squalane, which the brand says is to help maintain the skin’s natural moisture barrier and lock in moisture. It also contains ceramide precursors, which have been shown to be effective in improving skin barrier function.

As an added bonus, Cocokind is a brand that’s focused on sustainability, with most of the packaging plastic-free and easily recyclable. They also provide stats on the amount of carbon emissions each of their products creates.

Best splurge skin barrier repair product for acne-prone skin

EltaMD Skin Recovery Serum

  • Price: $$
  • Skin type: sensitive, acne-prone
  • Size: 29-mL bottle

This serum promises to noticeably reduce redness in 24 hours.

It contains vitamin B5 and cica (tigergrass extract) which the brand says soothes inflammation and helps skin barrier function. The formula also has antioxidants to help protect against free radicals that lead to signs of aging.

This pick is said to not clog pores, making it a good choice for those with acne. Plus, it’s also free from dye, fragrance, and parabens.

Best skin barrier serum with hyaluronic acid

Glossier Super Bounce

  • Price: $
  • Skin type: all skin types
  • Size: 30-mL bottle

Some Google reviewers call this pick “life-changing,” while a few say it’s uncomfortably sticky.

The brand describes it as soft and smooth, saying it offers a combination of 2 percent hyaluronic acid (HA) complex and pro-vitamin B5, to hydrate in more ways than one.

HA is a superstar skin care ingredient, with a reputation for:

  • moisturizing
  • wound healing
  • tackling wrinkles
  • boosting skin elasticity
  • treating eczema
  • helping facial redness

Glossier explains that HA works in this serum by pulling and locking moisture into the skin, while vitamin B5 encourages long-term hydration.

Best skin barrier repair cleanser

SkinFix Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser

  • Price: $$
  • Skin type: dry
  • Size: 60-mL bottle

This pick is different than the others on our list — it’s a foaming cleanser aimed at getting rid of dirt and makeup without stripping lipids, thanks to sulfate-free coconut-based cleansers and lightweight oils.

Google reviewers are overall happy campers, pointing out that this cleanser supports their skin barrier, especially for reviewers with very dry skin.

The company says this pick smooths the appearance of uneven texture and lowers the look of redness and blotchiness. It’s also cruelty-free and vegan.

Best naturally-derived skin barrier repair product

Typology Lipid Replenishing Serum

  • Price: $
  • Skin type: all skin types, dry skin
  • Size: 15-mL bottle

This vegan serum is made in France. The 99 percent naturally-derived formula includes ceramides to help repair the skin barrier, boost skin protection, and offer long-lasting hydration.

Reviews for the product on Typology’s site are overwhelmingly positive, with comments saying it works well, calling the serum luxurious and nourishing. However, reviews on third-party sites are lacking.

Best skin barrier repair product for overexfoliated skin

Stratia Liquid Gold

  • Price: $
  • Skin type: all skin types, including overexfoliated skin
  • Size: 60-mL bottle

This moisturizer has over 2,000 Google reviews and the majority of them are glowing. Some say that the product’s name (Liquid Gold) fits its performance well, pointing out how effective it is for healing very tight, itchy, dry skin (which may be a sign of a damaged skin barrier).

The product is made with cholesterol, ceramides, and fatty acids. It also has niacinamide to help reduce redness, retain moisture, and protect against damage produced by ultraviolet rays.

The brand points out that the product is yellow in color, which can make those with very pale skin see a yellow look on their skin, but they say it’s not staining. They suggest using this product before bed.

This pick is free from fragrance, alcohol, and essential oils.

Best skin barrier gel with hyaluronic acid

Maelove Hydrator B5 Gel

  • Price: $
  • Skin type: dry skin
  • Size: 30-mL bottle

This lightweight gel product works as a moisture booster and contains skin-celebrated HA.

It also includes vitamin B5 and an antioxidant called resveratrol — which helps neutralize free radicals that can damage the skin.

The brand says this gel serum spreads well and layers without difficulty, promising you won’t feel a greasy or heavy residue.

It’s worth pointing out that this product comes with free shipping, free returns, and a 100-day guarantee.

Palm says microfractures and loss of integrity to the skin barrier appear as skin irritation. This irritation, Palm says, can include:

Finding the right skin barrier repair product for you may be able to help you with these types of skin irritation.

It’s a good idea to choose your product based on your skin type (such as oily, dry, combination, or sensitive).

Palm also suggests looking for ingredients such as:

Read the instructions for your specific product carefully, and remember to scan the label for any ingredients that you may be allergic to before clicking “add to cart.”

Performing a patch test on your inner wrist before applying the new-to-you product to a larger area of your skin is also a good idea. Wait at least 24 hours to check for signs of irritation.

Palm recommends applying your product to your skin directly after a shower or bath.

It’s worth noting, however, that since these products are created to lock in moisture, any products you apply after them are less likely to penetrate your skin like they normally would. Instead, it’s a good idea to apply those products first if you have them.

Palm adds that you can consider applying your product more frequently to your hands if you wash your hands often. This can help you avoid losing skin barrier function. This is especially important during the winter months when skin tends to get drier.

Along with the right product, Palm says there are some other key things you can do to help you keep a healthy skin barrier.

  • Avoid extreme temperatures, including bath or shower water.
  • Avoid harsh soaps.
  • Select soaps those that specifically repair the skin barrier and support a healthy skin microbiome (the good bacteria native to the skin).

The skin barrier’s job is to help protect you from pathogens and environmental stressors.

If your skin barrier is damaged, you may notice redness, burning, itching, and rashes.

There are many products available for almost every skin type that can help repair and keep your skin barrier healthy, and at varying price points.

Breanna Mona is a writer based in Cleveland, OH. She holds a master’s degree in media and journalism and writes about health, lifestyle, and entertainment.