What Is The Skin Barrier &
6 Steps To Help Maintain Healthy-Looking Skin

Since our beginnings in New York City East Village in 1851, Kiehl’s has remained committed to providing healthy looking skin for all. Our skincare experts develop products that are inspired by our apothecary roots and scientific approach to skincare so we can deliver efficacious solutions for your individual needs. At Kiehl’s, we believe healthy looking skin starts with a strong, healthy skin barrier. Many of our skincare products are scientifically formulated to help strengthen the skin barrier and provide more radiant, healthy-looking skin.


The skin has three main layers: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The skin barrier refers to the outermost layer of the epidermis, which helps protect your skin from harsh elements and holds in moisture, preventing your skin from drying out. The second layer of skin, which lies beneath the epidermis, is the dermis. One of the primary functions of the dermis is to produce oil that keeps your skin soft and smooth. The third or bottom layer of your skin is the subcutaneous tissue, or hypodermis. It controls your body temperature, stores fat, and is made of connective tissue that attaches the dermis to your muscles and bones.


This diagram is a cross section of the outer layer of your skin, which can be compared to an image of a brick wall. "The bricks" are the corneocytes (which are dried out, non-living skin cells) and the "mortar" is composed of lipids that surround the corneocytes. When the skin barrier is intact, it is able to work more efficiently to retain essential moisture and help protect against external aggressors. Skin with a healthy barrier looks better and functions better overtime.

A damaged skin barrier appears dry and blemished due to a loss of nutrients. When irritants penetrate your skin directly, they can weaken the strength of your skin, further preventing it from absorbing the nutrients it needs. When this happens, it’s time to begin focusing on the skin barrier with a daily regime that strengthens the surface layer so you can be on your way to healthier-looking, more resilient skin.

Using a daily skincare routine is an effective way to help strengthen and protect the moisture barrier, which can ultimately lead to more resilient, healthy-looking skin. In addition to using skincare products that help maintain a strong skin barrier, below are six recommended steps to help keep skin looking healthy.



An effective skincare routine always begins with a cleanser. Cleansing your face is necessary to remove dirt, oil, and makeup, which can build up and prevent other products from working on your skin properly. Start your morning with either a highly effective foaming cleanser that cleanses and soothes skin, a deep pore facial cleanser, or a facial cleanser for sensitive skin. Look for a gentle yet powerful cleanser that can remove dirt, oil and impurities from skin’s surface while still respecting your skin’s barrier.

Learn more about our facial cleansers and discover which of our face washes is best for your skin type.


Using a serum that contains a targeted blend of ingredients is key to a healthy-looking skincare routine. Look for serums that target your particular skincare concern such as fine lines, wrinkles, or discoloration. We commonly recommend our Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions™ Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate. This serum is formulated with 12.5% Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid which helps to provide the following benefits:

  • Anti-Aging: reduction of the appearance of fine lines and deep-set wrinkles
  • Radiance: visible improvement of skin brightness
  • Skin texture boosting: visible and tactile improvement of skin’s surface quality

Learn more about Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions™ Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate and other products that target fine lines and wrinkles.


Strengthening your skin barrier is the first line of defense in helping to nourish your skin. For a nighttime solution that helps replenish skin and provides a more radiant appearance by morning, we recommend Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. It’s a replenishing elixir of pure essential oils and distilled botanicals to visibly restore the appearance of skin by morning.


Daily moisturizing is vital for your skin because it helps keep skin smooth, soft and healthy-looking. Many of our moisturizers are formulated to provide lasting hydration and a stronger moisture barrier.

For a nourishing facial moisturizer, we recommend a 24-hour daily facial cream that is clinically demonstrated in an instrumental study to hydrate skin and offers continuous moisture replenishment for skin throughout the day.

Learn more about our moisturizers and discover the best facial moisturizer for you.


The skin around your eye area is more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face. Therefore, it is best to use products that are specifically formulated for this delicate region. The eye area is where we commonly show signs of aging first – so you want to choose products specially formulated for this area and that are gentle.

We recommend trying a moisturizing under eye cream that is formulated with Avocado Oil. Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado gently moisturizes the delicate eye area and its unique, concentrated texture does not migrate into your eyes.


Finally, yet importantly, all skincare routines should incorporate a SPF. At Kiehl’s, we hold firm in the knowledge that the daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen helps shield the skin from both UVA and UVB rays, and is the key to a healthy-looking glow. Any exposure to the sun’s harmful rays without protection could be detrimental to your skin and the damaging effects are cumulative over a lifetime.

Learn more about Kiehl’s Super Fluid Daily UV Defense SPF 50+ and other sunscreen products that help defend skin against UV damage and the premature signs of aging.