Unless you’re reading this from a tropical beach-side cabana (lucky!), you’re probably dealing with dry, parched winter skin. Cooler temperatures, indoor heating, and zero humidity can zap water from your skin and lead to a compromised moisture barrier. And as with any barrier, your skin’s is not something you want to cross. But what exactly is the moisture barrier, and how can you repair it? Below is your complete guide, plus an easy routine to bring your skin back from the brink.
What Is the Moisture Barrier?
The moisture barrier is known, in science-speak, as the stratum corneum, or the outermost layer of the skin. It’s made up mostly of fatty lipids and proteins that bind your skin cells together. The moisture barrier keeps water (hydration) in and bad guys–like bacteria, pollutants, irritants and environmental stressors—out. It’s our first layer of defense against the outside world. When your barrier is healthy, your skin can pull moisture from the air around it, keeping it soft, smooth and supple. Pretty cool.
What Is a Compromised Moisture Barrier?
There’s no such thing as a foolproof defense system—there will be cracks! Especially when the weather is dry and cold, or maybe you’ve gone a little overboard with exfoliating (happens to us all). Whatever the reason, when the barrier is compromised, microscopic cracks appear and that beautiful water begins to seep out in a process known as transepidermal water loss. The result is dry, irritated, sensitive skin and fine lines and wrinkles.
How to Support the Skin’s Barrier Function
To bring your barrier back to normal, you’ll want to cut back on the products you use and swap them out for gentler, moisture-barrier-boosting ones. Follow these steps to bring your skin back from the brink.
Step 1: Use a Hydrating Serum
The best hydrating serum is one that’s rich in humectants, like hyaluronic acid. Our Hyaluronic Sea Serum uses high and low molecular weights of hyaluronic acid to boost hydration, fullness and firmness of the skin. It’s also loaded with Japanese Miru seaweed to replenish and balance the skin’s natural hydration levels as well as snow mushroom (Tremella fuciformis) to create the perfect moisture seal on your skin. The remarkable clinical results speak for themselves. In a third-party study, 100% of participants showed an immediate increase in hydration.* It’s also clinically proven to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier and help skin retain essential hydration.*
*Based on a third-party clinical study conducted over 4 weeks on 32 women ages 37-65 (including expert skin grading, instrumental measurements and consumer-perception study).
Clinically proven anti-aging moisture boost
Step 2: Seal in Hydration with a Moisturizer
On the moisturizer front, our Seabiotic Water Cream is top notch. This microbiome-friendly formula is practically weightless yet somehow still manages to hydrate for 72+ hours (it’s clinically proven). The secret is a combination of powerhouse ingredients, including Undaria seaweed, which replenishes the skin’s moisture barrier, and plant-based squalane, an emollient that provides lightweight and long-lasting moisturization. If you’re still feeling dry, top it off with our Dayglow Face Oil for an extra-nourishing layer of moisture and a dewy, glaze-y finish. We love that it’s made with moisture-barrier-supporting ingredients, like mineral-rich Undaria seaweed and omega-rich cold-pressed Moroccan argan oil and grapeseed oils (perfect for sensitive skin types). Pat it over your moisturizer in the morning and glow all day.
Next wave hydration
Step 3: Practice Safe Exfoliation
Exfoliation is the key to smoother, brighter, more youthful-looking skin. That said, exfoliating too much strips away your moisture barrier, leaving it vulnerable to damage, dryness and even infection. To figure out your skin’s perfect exfoliation recipe, take it slow and use exfoliating products as they are recommended (usually 1-3 times per week). Seaglow Overnight Serum AHA Treatment is our go-to for gentle chemical exfoliation. This twice-weekly nighttime treatment uses a blend of acids with a concentration of over 11%, including AHAs, phytic acid and tropical fruit enzymes, to exfoliate while you sleep for soft, smooth, radiant skin by morning. What we really love about this serum is that it balances the acids with fermented shiunko oil, red algae, spirulina and seawater to resurface and reinforce the skin’s moisture barrier in one easy step. As the acids slowly work their way into the skin overnight, these nourishing ingredients minimize irritation for an absolutely dreamy exfoliating experience.
Overnight resurfacing treatment serum
Step 4: Don’t Forget Your Body
Remember that the moisture barrier is the outer layer of your skin. It doesn’t end at your face, so make sure to give your body some TLC, too. Post-shower, when skin is still damp, apply our emollient-rich Undaria Algae Body Oil from neck to toe. The dampness factor is key to sealing in extra hydration–aka H2O–before it has a chance to evaporate into the air. Our best-selling body oil is made by infusing Undaria seaweed in a blend of passion fruit, acai, babassu and rice bran oils to provide deep moisture and replenish dry skin. It gives skin the most incredible, healthy-looking glow and smells like a citrusy vacation, which is what we all need this time of year.
Mineralize + moisturize for a full-body glow
If you want to feel like you’ve draped every inch of your body in the softest silk (even if you are actually wearing silk), try our Undaria Algae Body Butter. It absorbs instantly, so you don’t have to wait to put your clothes on. This buttery-rich cream is clinically proven to hydrate for 72 hours–perfect for your winter skin. It uses ceramides, in the form of oat kernel extract, which moisturize, renew and support the skin’s own moisture barrier. Our body butter also has some pretty amazing anti-aging benefits. In a third-party study, 97% agreed skin looked less crepey after four weeks of using it.* We love this product for its pure body-smoothing magic. It also has the same lighter-than-light citrusy scent as our body oil.
*Based on a third-party consumer perception and clinical study conducted over 4 weeks on 32 women ages 37-65.
Age-defying skincare for your body
Step 5: Be Patient
Good things come to those who wait. Stick to our moisture-barrier-boosting routine for at least a month, especially during the cold season. At that point, you can reintroduce more products, slowly, and see if you react. And if your skin does react, you’ll know what to do.