How I Healed My Moisture Barrier By Layering Ceramides
When I first began my skin care journey I became enamored with chemical exfoliants and other powerful active ingredients that hadn't been on my radar. Till that point in my life I was only familiar with harsh physical exfoliants a 'la the notorious St ives apricot scrub. Look I didn't know anything about skincare back then but even then the thought of scrubbing my skin with bits of walnut shells sounded like bad news. So when I discovered that you could get more vibrant healthier looking skin by just rubbing a bit of liquid no thicker than water on my face I was all about it.
AHA, BHA, Salicylic Acid, liquids, pads, mask I was all in… All in everyday. I really wish companies that sell these powerful exfoliants took education as seriously as they did sales because I had no idea that these treatments should be used sparingly once or twice a week tops. Some of these products are being advertised as gentle enough to use daily. Under no circumstances should you be exfoliating daily! If you do then you will undoubtedly cause extreme damage to your moisture barrier.
After a year on heavy acid usage I began to see changes in my skin and not for the better. My skin was producing more oil than ever before but somehow my skin was still scaly and showed major signs of irritation like huge under the skin pimples and redness. I initially thought I just had acne so I started to treat my skin with even more harsh ingredients to try and combat it. Needless to say I was only doing more harm than good and when I finally figured out that my skin was dehydrated due to a damage moisture barrier everything I thought I knew about skin care changed.
A New Appreciation For Hydration
Before I damaged my moisture barrier my skin was normal to oily so I didn’t put too much effort into finding proper hydration. I used lots of different kinds of light weight gel moisturiser that didn’t do much honestly. Post damage moisture barrier I took a completely new approach to hydration in that I could not get enough!
Once I determined my moisture barrier was damaged I went completely cold turkey with all acids and actives. That first step of admitting I had a problem and tossing those products in the bin was the hardest, mentally anyway. My new routine consisted of only 3 steps at first, low pH cleanser, facial mist and then moisturizer and in the AM sunscreen. I was so used to having actives in my routine that it felt wrong in a way to have a routine so simple. But simple was what my skin desperately needed. And for the first six months I only exfoliated once a month if that.
After months of keeping a super basic routine I started to notice some improvements when it came to irritation and redness but my skin was still over producing oil and I still had scaly patches that became super evident by the afternoon. The patches were truly THE worst part; nothing can make you more self conscious than the make-up you put on to cover your skin issues separating from your face making you look scaly. I knew I needed to up my moisturizing game and the one occlusive moisturizer at the end of my routine wasn’t cutting it on its own.
Thanks to the goddesses of Reddit I discovered that my skin was lacking ceramides; the fatty molecules optimal for retaining moisture in the skin. I also learned that although the ceramides in my skin might be depleted they could be built up again to help restore my moisture barrier. The method I decided to use to help replenish my ceramide levels was by incorporating multiple hydrating ceramide layers to my routine.
Here are some reviews on the ceramide products I used to help heal my moisture barrier.
This was the first ceramide product I incorporated into my routine. If you live in the US then CeraVe is probably very familiar to you. They are a drugstore staple stateside and easily accessible to me so it was a no brainer for me to pick this up.
Ingredient wise you get a lot of bank for your buck, this cream features Ceramide Np, Ceramide Ap, Ceramide Eop, Niacinamide AND Hyaluronic Acid all within the first 10 ingredients listed. Which means their content plays a significant role in the overall formula. The product contains no oils and is completely non-comedogenic.
The texture is a light weight cream that easily sinks into the skin, It is almost too light for me. I use 2-3 pumps depending on the time of year. I have nothing but love for this moisturizer and while I still utilize other layers of hydration this is always my last step to seal all my products in. Even though this is advertised as a nighttime product this cream has become a day and night time staple on my journey to heal my moisture barrier. I’ve repurchased many times and will continue to because of how simple it is and allows me to get more creative with other products without interfering. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a simple moisturizer with ceramides. It’s affordable and works for many different skin types.
Dr. Jart Ceramidin Liquid
So I have mixed feelings about this product. I initially really liked this product, first off speaking of aesthetics only this product has style. It's minimal but super chic and the square packaging looked really good on my skincare shelf. Moving past looks I also thoroughly enjoyed the texture of this product. Because it's called a liquid I was assuming this product would be watery consistency similar to a Korean essence but in fact this product has a thicker consistency that feels more like a runny lotion. I appreciated the thicker consistency and the fact that it absorbed into the skin quickly which allowed me to use multiple layers quickly.
However, after using about 75% of the bottle I noticed that this product wasn’t doing anything for skin. My skin would feel superficially hydrated on initial application however it didn’t provide any long lasting moisture. Those tell tale signs of dehydrations like patchy overly oily skin were still present so as much I adored the texture and look of this product I knew I had to keep searching for something with a better hydrating boost.
When I realized this product wasn’t working for me I looked into the ingredients, which in hindsight I know I should have done before I purchased but I blindly trusted the Dr.Jart hype. I was very disappointed to learn that while this product does contain 3 different types of ceramides; they are listed as the LAST ingredients on a very long list. It's kind of unbelievable that this is marketed as a Ceramide product with the ceramide content being pretty abysmal. Another thing I want to mention is that the price to volume ratio is pretty high; it's about $40 USD for a meager 150 ML (5 oz).
Kiku-masamune Sake Skin Lotion High Moisture (Pink Bottle)
I’ve been a fan of Japanese skincare for years so Kiku-masamune High Moist has long been on my radar. But to be frank the baby pink packaging looked a bit juvenile for my aesthetic so it never went on my wishlist. Flash forward 5 years and now I will sing the praises of this product to anyone who will listen.
This product contains both Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 high on the ingredient list along with other skin conditioning and antioxidant ingredients like Arbutin and Placental Protein that keep skin plump with long lasting hydration. Another super unique and interesting fact about this product is that it contains as the name mentions, Sake which is also known as fermented rice has incredible powerful brighten properties. In fact the company Kiku-masamune is world famous for being a sake brewery.
If you are looking for one ceramide product to heal your moisture barrier or you are just looking to add more moisture to your routine you have to try the Kikumasamune High Moist Lotion. If you aren’t familiar with Japanese lotions the simple run down is this, although they may be called ‘lotions’ these products are typically liquids but don’t get them confused with toners these lotions are packed with ingredients that hydrate the skin and prepare the face for the rest of your skincare routine.
This product is a liquid with a texture similar to water, there are many different ways to apply the High Moist lotion. You can saturate some cotton rounds and make your own sheet mask. Lots of redditors decant it into a spray bottle and mist their face. I prefer to keep it simple and apply a pump of the lotion by lightly patting it into the skin with my hands. Side note I also apply on damp skin after cleansing, I find that applying all my products on damp skin helps my skin retain its moisture. Depending on how much hydration my skin needs I will apply anywhere from 2-4 layers. This process can take some time because the Kikumasamune contains no alcohol so it needs to soak in between layers.
Like I mentioned before this is hands down the MOST hydrating product I’ve ever used and I would recommend it to any and all skin types. I’m not one to make blanket statements like that because I’m well aware that skincare is highly individual however this product is such an amazing deal I think it's well worth the risk. As of April 30, 2020 you can find a 500 ml (16 oz) bottle on Amazon for under $13. Because this bottle is so large I also use it on my body as well as soon as I get out of the shower to lock in moisture. One thing to note is that the pump on this bottle isn’t great. Lots of people have reported that the pump randomly broke on them or dispenses too much product. I have yet to experience any of those things have happened to me but it's something to keep in mind!