Lab Notes

Breaking Down the Science: A Comprehensive Comparison of Barrier Repair Products (BRPs)

Barrier repair products aim to restore and strengthen our skin's protective barrier, but with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you. In this blog, we'll compare the effectiveness of popular barrier repair products based on scientific evidence. From ceramide-rich creams to lipid-replenishing balms, we'll dive deep into each product to weed out the weaklings. 

Is there such a thing as true Barrier Repair?

The term "barrier repair" has become ubiquitous in the skincare industry, with numerous products marketed to restore and strengthen the skin's natural barrier. On one side, almost everyone skincare-conscious knows that it is the foundation of skin health. On the other hand, it has become so pervasive and commonplace that its meaning has been boiled down to "any product containing either Ceramides or Panthenol." Despite its popularity, there is no agreed-upon definition of what barrier repair actually entails. This lack of clarity can make it difficult for consumers to navigate the overwhelming number of products on the market and make informed decisions about their skincare regimen. In this article, we will provide a definition of barrier repair and use it to evaluate the efficacy of various barrier repair products. By using scientific testing, we will determine which products truly live up to their claims of repairing and strengthening the skin's protective barrier.

How did we compare them?

Six brave volunteers donated their time and skin for science. Essentially, sections of their forearms were tape-stripped, equal amounts of products applied, and measured for Transepidermal Water Loss at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 24 hours. For the full details and limitations of this procedure and on how we came up with the Criteria, refer to this lab note

The Criteria

A Barrier Repair Product should have enough occlusives to return barrier function to above 80% after 2 hours and enough barrier lipids to return barrier function to 90% after 8 hours.

Product Deep Dive

Aestura AtoBarrier 365

Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Squalene, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Behenyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Hydroxypropyl Bispalmitamide MEA, Cyclohexasiloxane, C14-22 Alcohols, Hydroxypropyl Bislauramide MEA, Mannitol, Arachidyl Alcohol, Cholesterol, Polyacrylate-13, Allantoin, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax Extract, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Arachidyl Glucoside, Dimethiconol, Polyisobutene, Phytosphingosine, Glyceryl Caprylate, Acrylates/Ammonium Methacrylate Copolymer, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Silica, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Isostearate, Glucose, Arachidic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Caesalpinia Sappan Stem Powder, Oleic Acid, Tocopherol 

Notes: Main Occlusive here is Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate which has lower occlusivity than Mineral Oil. It has the Pseudoceramides in small ball capsules that melt when applying to the skin, possibly encapsulated by the Carnuba wax. It also has Cholesterol and Palmitic, Oleic and Stearic acid as fatty acids. The addition of Oleic acid is a bit perplexing as it causes barrier damage. The emulsion is a crystal lamellar emulsion which plays well with barrier lipids. 

Atopalm Real Barrier Extreme Moisture Cream

Water/Aqua, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Panthenol, Myristoyl/Palmitoyl Oxostearamide/Arachamide MEA, Glyceryl Stearate, Polyglyceryl 10 Distearate, Dimethicone, Sorbitan Stearate, Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Fruit Extract, 1,2 Hexanediol, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Glucose, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phytosterols, Phospholipids, Dihydroxyisopropyl Palmoylpalmamide, Bis-Capryloyloxypalmitamido Isopropanol, Allantoin, Acetyl Heptapeptide 4, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Elettaria Cardamo Mum Seed Oil, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Juniperus Mexicana Oil, Biosaccharide Gum 1, Sodium Hyaluronate, Acetyl Dipeptide 1 Cetyl Ester, Madecassoside, Stearic Acid, Carbomer, Caprylyl Glycol

Notes: This is famous for its Multi-Lamellar Emulsion (MLE) technology with three types of Pseudoceramides, Phytosterol and Stearic acid. They are potentially counting on the Botanical oils to provide the fatty acids but that's not really reliable and we're not sure yet if plant oils affect ratios. One redeeming thing about botanical oils is that some of them (e.g. Sunflower Oil), depending on the distiallation, may have PPAR activity. This also has the soothing peptide Acetyl Dipeptide 1 Cetyl Ester, which we almost used in C.R.E.A.M. Maybe we'll see it in our new products later. 

Atopalm Real Barrier Intense Moisture Cream

Water/Aqua, Methylpropanediol, Panthenol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Myristoyl/Palmitoyl Oxostearamide/Arachamide MEA, Squalane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbitan Stearate, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Canola Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Acrylic Acid/MA Copolymer, Sucrose Cocoate, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Caprylyl Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Allantoin, Xanthan Gum, Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Fruit Extract, Sodium Polyacrylate, Phytosterols, Dihydroxyisopropyl Palmoylpalmamide, Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Ceramide NP, Madecassoside, Ectoin, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Benzyl Glycol, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hyaluronate, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Elettaria Cardamomum Seed Oil, Beta-Glucan, Mentha Arvensis Leaf Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Juniperus Mexicana Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Raspberry Ketone

Notes: This is the less rich version of the Extreme Cream above. It has two Pseudoceramides, Ceramide NP, Phytosterols instead of Cholesterol and a bunch of botanical oils. I don't think this would have enough occlusive to last to 4 hours. Not loving the Essential oils in it. 

Atopalm MLE Cream

Water/Aqua, Glycerin, Propanediol, Myristoyl/Palmitoyl Oxostearamide/Arachamide MEA, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-10 Distearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Sunflower Oil Decyl Esters, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Viscum Album (Mistletoe) Fruit Extract, Sorbitan Stearate, Beta-Glucan, Tocopherol, Phytosterols, Carbomer, Allantoin, Stearic Acid, Arginine, Sodium Phytate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol

Notes: This cream is from the same company, so it also uses the same MLE, with Pseudoceramides, Phytostertols, and Stearic acid. There is no data on how Pseudoceramides affect the barrier, neither with Phytosterols instead of Cholesterol. One good thing about phytosterols is that some of are Liver X Receptor (LXR) agonists so they are PPAR-like. This most likely has the highest concentration of Barrier Lipids and Glycerin among the three from the same company.

Illiyoon Ceramide ATO Concentrate Cream

Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin), Stearic Acid, Behenyl Alcohol, Palmitic Acid, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, 1,2-Hexanediol, Arachidyl Alcohol, C14-22 Alcohols, Hydroxypropyl Bispalmitamide MEA, Polyacrylate-13, Arachidyl Glucoside, Mannitol, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Polyisobutene, Glyceryl Caprylate, Panax Ginseng Root Water, Ethylhexylglycerin, Acrylates/Ammonium Methacrylate Copolymer, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Isostearate, Carbomer, Perilla Ocymoides Seed Extract, Myristic Acid, Arachidic Acid, Cholesterol, Bupleurum Falcatum Root Extract, Angelica Acutiloba Root Extract, Ophiopogon Japonicus Root Extract, Glucose, Silica, Glycine Max (Soybean) Oil, Ceramide NP, Phytosphingosine, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Tocopherol, Canola Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract

Notes: The main occlusives here are Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin). They both are waterproofing agents but their occlusiveness doesn't last long. These two impart this "wet" skin feel that looks great on the skin. It has a Pseudoceramide, Ceramide NP, Stearic acid and Palmitic acid and has those beads that melt in your skin. Again not a fan of the botanical oils here. 

Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Skin Barrier Moisturizer

Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dipropylene Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Methyl Trimethicone, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Dicaprylyl Ether, Cetearyl Olivate, Panthenol, Glyceryl Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Olivate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Extract, 2,3-Butanediol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Ceramide NP, Ceramide NG, Ceramide NS, Ceramide AS, Ceramide AP, Cholesterol, Pentaerythrityl Distearate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Cellulose Gum, Dextrin, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Citronellol, Tocopherol, Yellow 5 (CI 19140)

Notes: The main occlusives here are Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin), and Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter. It also contains its own ceramide complex (called 5-Cera Complex), along with Cholesterol and NEFAs. It does contain some botanical oils, but since they appear low in the INCI there probably isn’t a sufficient amount of EFAs for barrier repair.

Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore Anti-Aging Cream

Aqua / Water / Eau, Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Glycerin, Cholesterol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Ceramide 3, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil Unsaponifiables / Sunflower Seed Oil, Unsaponifiables, Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Sodium Polyacrylate, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Nylon-12, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymerphenoxyethanol, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Chlorphenesin, Caprylyl Glycol, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Propylene Carbonate, Disodium EDTA, Acrylonitrile/Methyl Methacrylate/Vinylidene Chloride, Copolymer, Adenosine, Dipropylene Glycol, Lavandula Angustifolia Oil / Lavender Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil / Rosemary Leaf Oil, t-Butyl Alcohol, Mentha Piperita Oil / Peppermint Oil, Sodium Citrate, Linalool, Isobutane, Ceramide EOP, BHT, Tocopherol, Limonene

Notes: This cream uses a Cholesterol-dominant 2:4:2 lipid ratio, with 2% Ceramides, 4% Cholesterol, and 2% Fatty Acids. Literature studies have shown that a Cholesterol-dominant ratio is particularly beneficial for mature skin, since as  we age the Cholesterol levels in our barrier decrease. It uses various oils as the source for Fatty Acids, and Dimethicone and Hydrogenated Polyisobutene are the main occlusives.

La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Repairing Balm

Aqua / Water, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter / Shea Butter, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Propanediol, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Tristearin, Zinc Gluconate, Madecassoside, Manganese Gluconate, Magnesium Sulfate, Disodium EDTA, Copper Gluconate, Acetylated Glycol Stearate, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorhexidine, Digluconate, CI 77891 / Titanium Dioxide

Notes: Although often referred to as a barrier product, this cream does not actually contain any barrier lipids. It does have a lot of other barrier strengthening ingredients like 5% Panthenol, Glycerin, and Shea Butter. It’s a multi-purpose product, but note that the Titanium Dioxide they include is used as a colourant and not as an SPF filter.

Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Panthenol, Glycerin, Bisabolol

Notes: This is another barrier lipid-free product and it isn’t an emulsion either. It is a Petrolatum-based ointment and contains other occlusives like Mineral Oil and Lanolin.

Stratia Liquid Gold

Water (Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Niacinamide, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Rosa Mosqueta (Rose) Hip Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Seed Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Oil, Panthenol, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Squalane, Cetyl Alcohol, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA

Notes: This is a very lightweight emulsion that uses Ceramide Complex as its source of Ceramides and Cholesterol, and a few different botanical oils for fatty acids. Sea Buckthorn Oil and Rosehip Oil are rich in EFAs. Dimethicone could be acting as an occlusive in this formula, but we don’t know its viscosity (cSt) so it’s hard to say just by looking at the INCI.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Aqua / Water / Eau, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Petrolatum, Potassium Phosphate, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Carbomer, Dimethicone, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cholesterol, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tocopherol, Phytosphingosine, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin

Notes: This cream uses Ceramide Complex along with Multi-Vesicular Emulsion (MVE) Technology. MVE Technology is a topical delivery system that allows the Ceramide Complex to be released over time instead of instantaneously. Its main occlusives are Caprylic/​Capric Triglyceride, Petrolatum, and Dimethicone which indicates that there will be immediate TEWL reduction in addition to long-term barrier repair.

Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer

Water⁠, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter⁠, Ceteareth-6 Olivate⁠, Butylene Glycol⁠, C13-15 Alkane⁠, Glycerin⁠, Glyceryl Stearate⁠, Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate⁠, Decyl Oleate⁠, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil⁠, Salvia Hispanica (Chia) Seed Oil⁠, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil⁠, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil⁠, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil⁠, Hydrogenated Olive Oil⁠, Psidium Guajava Fruit Extract⁠, Olea Europaea Oil Unsaponifiables⁠, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil⁠, Linoleic Acid⁠, Linolenic Acid⁠, Oleic Acid⁠, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Sterols⁠, Ceramide AP⁠, Ceramide EOP⁠, Ceramide NP⁠, Serine⁠, Alanine⁠, Glycine⁠, Proline⁠, Lysine HCI⁠, Threonine⁠, Arginine⁠, Squalane⁠, Cholesterol⁠, Phytosphingosine⁠, Anastatica Hierochuntica Extract⁠, Lecithin⁠, Sodium Hyaluronate⁠, Sodium Lactate⁠, Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract⁠, Adenosine⁠, Phytic Acid⁠, Glutamic Acid⁠, Betaine⁠, Pullulan⁠, PCA⁠, Sodium PCA⁠, Carbomer⁠, Sodium Polyacrylate Starch⁠, Sclerotium Gum⁠, Xanthan Gum⁠, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate⁠, Phenoxyethanol⁠, Ethylhexylglycerin⁠

Notes: This cream has some great barrier lipids with the use of Ceramide Complex as a source of Ceramides and Cholesterol, and pure Linoleic Acid and Linolenic Acid for EFAs. There are also a lot of botanical oils that serve as other sources of fatty acids, such as Borago Officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil which is high in Linoleic Acid. Oleic Acid has been shown to not be that great for barrier repair, so it is a little confusing as to why they added it along with Olive Oil.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer

Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Isopropyl Isostearate, Pseudozyma Epicola/Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil/Glucose/Glycine Soja (Soybean) Meal/Malt Extract/Yeast Extract Ferment Filtrate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cetearyl Alcohol, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Pentylene Glycol, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Seed Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Schinziophyton Rautanenii Kernel Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Polyglyceryl-6 Ximenia Americana Seedate, Cholesterol, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Ceramide NP, Phytosphingosine, Ceteareth-20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Tocopherol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin

Notes: This is another Ceramide Complex cream, so it contains three Ceramides and Cholesterol. It also has Palmitic Acid and Stearic Acid as NEFAs and a variety of botanical oils which provide other fatty acids. There aren't really any other barrier actives apart from Glycerin, and its two main occlusives (Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride and Isopropyl Isostearate) don't help that much with short-term TEWL reduction.

Ole Henriksen Strength Trainer Peptide Boost Moisturizer

Aqua/Water/Eau, Propanediol, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Methylpropanediol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Niacinamide, Acetyl Hexapeptide-1, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Acetyl Octapeptide-3, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-2, Acetyl Dipeptide-1 Cetyl Ester, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Carnosine, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Collagen, Serine, Alanine, Glycine, Glutamic Acid, Lysine HCl, Threonine, Arginine, Proline, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Panthenol, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Betaine, PCA, Cyanocobalamin, Xylitol, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitylglucoside, Sorbitan Olivate, Carbomer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Xanthan Gum, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Laurate, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Polysorbate 60, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyacetophenone, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Polysorbate 20, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Sodium Phytate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Citric Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/Fragrance*, Citral, Limonene, Linalool 

Notes: This cream contains Ceramide Complex, Linoleic Acid, and Linolenic Acid. Mango Seed Butter is not only rich in NEFAs like Palmitic Acid and Stearic Acid, but it also acts as an occlusive in this formula. Panthenol and Glycerin are two great humectants included in this product that also work to help strengthen the skin barrier.

Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream

Water/Aqua/Eau, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Vegetable Oil/Huile Végétale, Cetyl Lactate, Propanediol, Caprylyl Caprylate/Caprate, C12-16 Alcohols, Jojoba Oil/Macadamia Seed Oil Esters, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Palmitic Acid, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Ceramide EOP, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Dilinoleic Acid/Propanediol Copolymer, Squalene, Ophiopogon Japonicus Root Extract, Phytosteryl Sunflowerseedate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Hydrogenated Vegetable Glycerides, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, Phytosteryl Macadamiate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Tocopherol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Phytosterols, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Gluconolactone, Phenethyl Alcohol, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Carbomer, Pentylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phenoxyethanol 

Notes: This is another Ceramide Complex cream. It contains Palmitic Acid and other botanical oils as sources of fatty acids. However, with the addition of Vegetable Oil it’s difficult to determine the fatty acid profile since the INCI name does not provide any information on the vegetable source.

Rovectin Skin Essentials Barrier Repair Cream

Water, Propanediol, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Poly(C6-14 Olefin), Squalane, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Prunus Persica (Peach) Kernel Oil, Ceramide NP, Astaxanthin, Panthenol, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Eclipta Prostrata Extract, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Juniperus Mexicana Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Diisostearyl Malate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Synthetic Beeswax, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydroxyacetophenone, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Sodium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Tromethamine, Adenosine, Sorbitan Isostearate, Sodium Phytate, Trideceth-10, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Glycerin

Notes: This cream only contains one Ceramide, Ceramide NP,  along with Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, and other botanical oils. There is no Cholesterol present in the formula, so the barrier lipids it provides are incomplete. Shea Butter and Synthetic Beeswax provide some occlusiveness for short-term TEWL reduction. It would've been nice if they added more Glycerin since it really is a great humectant.   

Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Deep Hydration Moisturizer

Water, Squalane, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Isoamyl Laurate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Olivate, Ceramide NP, Jojoba Esters, Sodium Hyaluronate, Euterpe Oleracea Sterols, Linoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Ethyl Linoleate, Tocopherol, Isoamyl Cocoate, Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Gluconate

Notes: This is a Crystal Lamellar Emulsion which contains Ceramide NP, Linoleic Acid, and Linolenic Acid. It also contains Ethyl Linoleate, a derivative of Linoleic Acid, which has been shown to reduce TEWL in wound repair. Euterpe Oleracea Sterols are plant sterols which are often used as a vegan alternative for Cholesterol. 

Eucerin Complete Repair Moisturizing Cream

Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Urea-Uree, Hydrogenated Coco-Gycerides, Caprylic-Capric Triglyceride, Octyldodecanol, Butyrospermum Parkii, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceramide 3, Lactic Acid, Arginine HCl, Sodium PCA, Cholesterol, Helianthus Annuus, Alanine, Glycine, Sodium Chloride, Cetyl Dimethicone, Tapioca Starch, Chondrus Crispus, Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, Acrylates-C10-30-Alkyl-Acrylate-Crosspolymer, Decylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Pentylene Glycol

Notes: This is an Oil-in-Water (O/W) Emulsion and has Ceramide NP, Cholesterol, and other botanical oils in it. Caprylic/​Capric Triglyceride and Shea Butter provide some occlusivity in this formula, but it probably isn’t enough for great immediate TEWL reduction. Urea is a great humectant present in this formula and since this is a O/W Emulsion, the stinging and irritation potential that is often associated with the use of Urea is decreased.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

Colloidal Oatmeal - 0.50%, Water, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cetearyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Dimethicone, Squalane, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Allantoin, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Chrysanthemum Parthenium (Feverfew) Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Ceramide NP, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil

Notes: Ceramide NP and Stearic Acid are the only barrier lipids in this cream, but there are other barrier friendly ingredients. Colloidal Oatmeal and Allantoin help relieve stinging and itching, while Feverfew Extract and Licorice Root Extract help fight inflammation. Depending on the viscosity (cSt) of Dimethicone, it might also act as an occlusive in addition to Shea Butter for short-term TEWL reduction.  

C.R.E.A.M. 1.0

Aqua, Glycerin, Isostearyl Isostearate, Isopropyl Isostearate, Isosorbide Dicaprylate, Bisabolol, Glyceryl Glucoside, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Ceramide NP, Ceramide EOP, Ursolic Acid, Propanediol, Adipic Acid, Neopentyl Glycol Crosspolymer, Phospholipids, Cholesterol, Linolenic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Tocopherol, Dimethoxymethyl Chromanol, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth 7, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin

C.R.E.A.M. 2.0

Aqua, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Panthenol, Pentylene Glycol, Behenyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Decyl Glucoside, Polysilicone-11, Isosorbide Dicaprylate, Arachidyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Bisabolol, Ceramide EOP, Ceramide NP, 4-t-Butylcyclohexanol, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Allantoin, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Palmitoylethanolamide, Cholesterol, Myristic Acid, Hydroxystearic Acid, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Avenanthramide, Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Decanone, Tocopherol, Lactic Acid, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Laureth-7, Potassium Sorbate


After 2 Hours

Two hours after barrier damage, barrier function is severely disrupted. Our goal here is to bring barrier function back to above 80%. Since Barrier Lipids take time to work, products rely on occlusives at this stage to temporarily return barrier function to normal. It is expected that the top-performing products at two hours are the ones with effective occlusives.

Aquaphor is at the top with a whopping 99%, which is not surprising as its main composition is Petrolatum. C.R.E.A.M. 2.0 was also not a surprise (to us, at least), as we engineered it to have just enough Petrolatum to reach 90% barrier repair in 2 hours. Ilyoon's Ceramide Ato Concentrate has two waterproofing agents used in lip gloss, possibly in high concentrations, so it performed well at 2 hours. (One note here is that these waterproofing esters don't last as long as Petrolatum, as you'll see later) Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Peptide Cream also performed really well owing to its Silicone + Hydrogenated Polyisobutene (HPI) combo (Another waterproofing agent). It is also a Water-in-Oil emulsion, which tends to perform better in TEWL reduction compared to Oil-in-Water emulsions. Real Barrier Extreme Cream and Atopalm MLE Cream are tied with 84% barrier repair ability. They are from the same manufacturer and use CCT as their main emollient, boosted by either Silicone or ester. CCT is a common emollient that has some ability to reduce TEWL. LRP's Cicaplast Baume B5 comes in next, with Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Dimethicone and Shea butter, which are excellent TEWL reducers in addition to it being a Water-in-Oil emulsion. When you feel Cicaplast, you can tell it is a Water-in-Oil emulsion. It has that slightly greasy sunscreen-y feel, unlike Skinceuticals, which is quite elegant, albeit being a water-in-oil emulsion. Rovectin Skin Essentials Barrier Repair Cream Concentrate only has Shea butter as the main occlusive, and it is an oil-in-water emulsion that led to it barely passing. Cerave Moisturizing Cream barely made it to the cut, too, with CCT, Petrolatum and Dimethicone. Petrolatum is probably less than 2%, and Dimethicone less than 1%, so its occlusiveness isn't as pronounced. 

After 4 Hours

We call this period the transition phase. Things are starting to move around as Occlusives' ability start to decrease depending on the type. Aestura and Ilyoon were the first to fall, indicating that their occlusive effect is short-lasting. These two share the same Occlusive Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate. It could be that this waterproof ester's occlusive ability doesn't last long. Another factor we should look at is that these two have beads that could have contributed to their results. The next one to decrease is Aquaphor, which makes sense as it is primarily an occlusive.  

The BRPs that have no change in barrier repair (BR) at 2 hours means that their occlusiveness decreased at the same rate as normal Barrier Repair (see Negative Control.) 

After 6 Hours

This is the stage where Barrier repair due to Barrier Lipids (Ceramides, Cholesterol and Fatty acids) becomes more apparent. Eucerin and Liquid gold shot up by 13.76% and 11.25%, respectively. These two products have little occlusive to cover them in the 2h-4h period but have enough ceramides for the 6-8hr period. C.R.E.A.M. 1.0 comes in next as it also doesn't have a lot of traditional occlusives, but its barrier lipid content starts kicking in at this stage.

Those with a huge decrease in BR are those with occlusives that start to fail before their Barrier Lipids kick in (if they have any). 

After 8 Hours

The most crucial factor that we see at 8 Hours is Ceramide content. Physiologically equivalent ceramides in C.R.E.A.M. and Skinceuticals are at the top owing to their high concentrations. Atopalm and Extreme Cream follow closely, containing 8% Pseudoceramides (if sources are correct). Then Liquid Gold follows next with Ceramide complex. There are a lot of Ceramide complex BRPs in the group, but Liquid Gold uses the highest percentage of Ceramide complex among the group which is reflected on its performance here. 

Another thing to note is that C.R.E.A.M. 1 and C.R.E.A.M. 2.0 have equal amounts of Ceramides. We could only get beyond 95% barrier repair at 8 hours after we optimized the other barrier lipids outside of Ceramides. Interestingly, adding Petrolatum wasn't enough to push it to 95%; the PPAR actives and fatty acid optimization made the most difference. 

Two products deserve special attention: Aestura and Ilyoon. These two products have those beads that melt when you spread them on the skin. We think their results are this way because even distribution was not done adequately, given the presence of beads. 


Barrier repair is a complex process with multiple factors affecting it. If you want to know how the skin repairs itself, check out our lab note here. 

In conclusion, our testing of various barrier repair products has revealed that the rate of deterioration of Occlusives and Concentration of Barrier Lipids are the two key factors that determine a product's Barrier Repair Profile. Products with lower percentages of Ceramides, like Ceramide Complex, tend to be more susceptible to the effects of other components in the formulation. Predominantly Occlusive products, such as Aquaphor, perform well initially but their Barrier Repair ability decreases over time as they lack sufficient Barrier Lipids. On the other hand, products that are predominantly Barrier Lipids, like C.R.E.A.M. 1, tend to start performing around 6 hours as they lack sufficient Occlusives. Those products in between like Real Barrier Extreme Cream contain a combination of both Occlusives and Barrier Lipids but still has a dip in the middle of its Barrier Repair Profile. This dip is due to its Occlusive deteriorating faster than the rate of its Barrier Lipids kicking in. Unfortunately, this exposed gap in its Barrier Repair Profile can lead to inflammation and other skin problems. To address this, we have developed C.R.E.A.M. 2.0, which covers all periods until the Barrier Lipids kick in, resulting in a more comprehensive and effective solution for repairing the skin barrier.