Skin balms, salves, ointments; barrier creams go by many a name but they’ve all got the same goal in mind – to protect sensitive skin. Now that the cold weather is here and the central heating is pumped high, there’s never been a better time to include one in your regime to save your winter skin from serious drought.
Designed to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out, a barrier cream is particularly useful if your skin’s natural barrier function isn’t working as it should – often the case in particularly reactive skin types prone to eczema, dermatitis, rosacea and acne.
Thicker and richer than your average moisturiser, barrier creams (such as Eucerin’s cult Aquaphor balm) work by forming a protective layer over the surface of your skin. Locking vital moisture in – exactly what dry skin types need at this time of year – and acting as a shield against potential irritants, they also help to create the ideal environment for damaged skin to heal. Hot tip: if you’ve recently had a little microdermabrasion or a chemical peel, they’ll help speed up your recovery time.
The key to finding a good barrier cream, however, is looking to formulations that are breathable (you’ll want to avoid those 100% petroleum salves – we don't want any clogged pores here), and come packing reparative ingredients such as ceramides, glycerin, nourishing plant oils and our new favourite ingredient, vitamin F.
Since they act as a protective seal on the skin, and therefore prevent anything you apply on top from being absorbed properly, you’re best off using a barrier cream either as a final step in your daytime regime, or slathering it on over your serum at night for an intensive hydration session.
Fancy indulging in the reparative powers of a barrier cream? Keep scrolling for an edit of our current favourites.
This cult balm has a celebrity following that includes the likes of Beyoncé and Emily Ratajkowski. The paraffin-based formula also includes glycerin, panthenol and bisabolol, to soothe and condition skin that's feeling a little raw.
Designed to soothe inflammation, Farmacy's take on the barrier balm contains honey, propolis and royal jelly, for on-the-spot protection.
A favourite among dermatologists, Cetraben's richly moisturising Ointment is ideal for eczema or dermatitis sufferers in need of a head-to-toe slathering.
Formulated with 100% lanolin, this natural balm works wonders on cracked and chapped skin that needs a break from the elements.
A skincare icon, the famous Eight Hour Cream is a blend of petroleum and lanolin that'll help to heal any chapped skin ASAP.
Teaming vitamin-rich plant oils with vitamin C and retinol, this is your option for dry or winter-worn skin that needs an intensive boost.
It may have been formulated for babies, but if your skin is in full freak-out mode this gentle formula is exactly what you need to restore some balance.
MOA has your organic option with their cult Green Balm. Yarrow and tea tree oil tag-team to replenish dryness, fend off any infection and protect for speedy healing.