6 products that healed my skin barrier

If I can offer you any skincare advice, aside from wearing SPF everyday, it is to listen to your skin. Pay attention to it daily. What does it need? What is it not liking? I learnt this the hard way when towards the end of last year I noticed my skin feeling particularly sensitive and stingy even when I applied even the most basic of products like Hyaluronic Acid or my usual moisturiser. I ignored the sensation thinking it was probably nothing and carried on using an obscene amount of exfoliating acids. Big, big mistake. Not only did my skin feel worse, it also looked dry, tight and inflamed.

I knew I had to do something so I thought I’d start with the logical step. I scaled back my skincare completely and used only what was necessary, and what I already had in my product stash. I avoided makeup as well and within a few days my skin was feeling and looking better. I wanted to share with you the products that I used that really helped me. Now let’s remember everyone’s skin is different and these might not work for you, but it may give you a general idea of where to start if you too have been ignoring the cries of your skin barrier.


As I was wearing very little make up I didn’t use an oil or balm cleanser. I cleansed in the morning and evening (double cleanse of course) with the creamy Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser, which has a pH of 5.5-6.0 (to mimic the skin’s) and ingredients like Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to soothe and calm irritated skin. I’ve always found this cleanser to be very gentle and I love having it in my bathroom for those days when my skin is begging me for mercy.


I had the REN Flash Hydro-Boost Instant Plumping Emulsion already in my routine and I continued to use it as it has some good repairing ingredients. To address the dryness it has Hyaluronic Acid and Xylitol, as well as Glycerin (a favourite humectant of mine) and ceramides to help retain moisture in the skin. I really like how gentle this formulation is and it did provide me with instant relief from dryness.


Avec Bioactive Nutrient Serum (gifted) came to my aid by nourishing my skin with 14 botanical extracts and oils. The beauty of this oil is that it’s very light-weight so I didn’t feel like a grease ball after applying it or after following it up with a barrier cream. I love that the formula has ingredients like Chamomile, Calendula and Comfrey to target dryness and inflammation. A facial oil is a must when trying to repair a compromised skin barrier.


For the final step of my “Save My Skin” routine I brought in some French pharmacy big guns starting with LA ROCHE-POSAY Cicaplast Baume B5 which I used in the morning. This product is for sensitised, dry and irritated skin and is often recommended following cosmetic treatments like lasers or peels. It has a combination of Manganese, Copper and Zinc (Madecassoside) to heal and 5% Panthenol (Vitamin B5) which offers anti-inflammatory and wound healing benefits by trapping moisture in the skin.

AVÈNE Skin Recovery Cream Rich is a slightly different cream which I used at night time but honestly you don’t need two barrier creams, I just happened to have both. This one is slightly different to Cicaplast and contains Mineral Oil, Glycerin, Squalane and Shea Butter resulting in a very rich cream that’s just perfect for night time. Mineral Oil gets a bad wrap in clean beauty circles but it’s a myth – mineral oil is an amazing ingredient for dry, sensitive skin needing barrier support and it’s safe.


Ok what is slugging and why does it sound so disgusting? Slugging has become a bit of a trend in recent times but some version of it has been around for ages. The idea is that you coat your skin at the end of your routine with an occlusive product (like Vaseline) to help trap moisture. If you have oily or acne prone skin, approach with caution and listen to your skin, that’s the main takeaway! One unfortunate thing that clean beauty and the Environmental Working Group have done is really demonised petrolatum but in actual fact it’s a very safe ingredient to use. I use it once a week (or as needed) as the final step and I apply only a very small, thin layer. There’s no need to go overboard.

By sticking to this routine for a week or so, AM and PM, my skin showed immense improvement. The stinging sensation was gone, my skin felt softer and it looked calmer too. This is a very basic routine and the products are just an example of what I used but you can totally make up your routine with what you have in the cupboard.

I hope this was helpful!

– Sanida


*This blog post contains affiliate links.