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How To Use Hydrating Skincare Sticks

By Dr. Nancy Ilaya, PhD
Kiehl’s Global Scientific Director

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Barrier Balm skincare stick with product texture sample

Skincare On-The-Go: Skincare Sticks & Ultimate Hydration

At Kiehl’s, we believe that healthy skin starts with a strong, hydrated skin barrier. When it comes to our skincare approach, maintaining your skin’s hydration is one of the most important ways to balance and strengthen your skin. And yet everyday aggressors—like sun exposure, ordinary weather changes, touching your face or wiping and retouching makeup—can all affect the strength of your skin barrier. 

To give your skin the added support it needs, skincare sticks (especially those that target hydration) can be a helpful, on-the-go reinforcement that protects your skin all throughout the day by strengthening the skin barrier and replenishing hydration and moisture. Discover how skincare sticks can be a convenient, concentrated formula for more protected, moisturized, and healthier-looking skin.  

Barrier Basics

Your skin barrier is the outer surface of the skin and is composed of skin cells, lipids, and natural moisturizing factors like amino and fatty acids. It has a “brick and mortar” composition with skin cells that are like “bricks” and lipids (or oils) forming the “mortar” which functions to move moisture between the cells. 

Protecting Your Skin Barrier

One of the primary functions of your skin barrier is protection—a healthy skin barrier can help defend against environmental aggressors and help retain and regulate moisture within the skin. When your skin barrier is compromised, however, your skin can experience a loss of moisture, leaving it looking dull, uneven, and even feel tight, dry, or uncomfortable.  

It’s estimated that your skin barrier can face up to 300x disruptions every day, which makes a skincare stick, like our Ultra Facial Barrier Balm, particularly useful as the formula instantly strengthens the skin barrier on-the-go and can deliver 5x skin barrier strength*.  

*Based on an instrumental test measuring improvement in moisture barrier function 4 hours after single application compared to untreated skin. 


Whether you’re traveling, running errands, or just need a quick touch-up, skincare sticks offer a convenient
and compact format to help maintain your skincare routine without sacrificing efficacy.

Model applying skincare stick to their cheek and chin

Skincare With Ease

Another significant benefit of skincare sticks and serum sticks is their ease of application—unlike traditional skincare products that often require multiple steps or complicated application, skincare sticks can be easily applied as a spot treatment, providing a simple and effective layer of nourishment.  

Skincare sticks, and serum sticks in particular, can deliver targeted application, allowing you to focus on and directly target specific skincare concerns, like dry skin, minimizing pores, and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, multi-balm moisturizing sticks are designed for multipurpose use on the face, body, and anywhere you might experience dry skin throughout the day, and can provide deep hydration by strengthening the skin barrier with a thin, occlusive layer.  

Ingredient illustration for Squalane, Glacial Glycoprotein, and Pro-Ceramides


Our Ultra Facial Barrier Balm is rich in barrier strengthening ingredients like Squalane and Pro-Ceramides and works to strengthen the skin barrier with each swipe** and deliver up to 48 hours of hydration. You can use our hydrating facial stick on your face and on knees, elbows, or any other skin areas that experience dryness for extra support. 

**Based on an instrumental evaluation of barrier function comparing 1 application with 3 applications. 

Incorporating hydrating sticks into your daily skincare routine can provide an easy, effective, and gentle way to maintain healthy, radiant skin. Their lightweight formula, like in our barrier balm, can also blend seamlessly under and over make-up and is suitable for all skin types, including dry and sensitive skin.  

Additional Hacks for Hands, Makeup & Hair 

When it comes to our Ultra Facial Barrier Balm, there are some helpful hacks that go beyond what you might expect from a typical skincare stick. You can use it as a spot treatment on your cuticles when they get dry; along your cheeks if you wear glasses and want to avoid irritation; and under an eye mask before sleeping for extra hydration. If you carry a bag on one shoulder, you can apply our moisture balm along your shoulder skin for added lubrication and moisture.  

It can also be applied as a highlighter stick at the top of your cheekbones; for grooming your eyebrows; and can even be applied on your pulse points before spraying perfume as a base. You can also use it to tame any flyaway hairs at your hairline. By providing an extra layer of hydration and skin barrier strength support, our hydrating stick is also ideal after shaving, or following an eyebrow wax or threading, to help soothe and hydrate the skin.  


To effectively use our Ultra Facial Barrier Balm with Squalane, it’s important to know when and how to
incorporate it into your skincare routine.


Before applying any skincare product, it’s important to first cleanse your face and remove any dirt, excess oil, and impurities from your skin. This will ensure that the hydrating facial stick can be absorbed effectively.


Once your face is clean and dry, you can apply the hydrating skincare stick. Simply glide the invisible barrier balm directly onto your skin, focusing on the areas that need attention. You can also pair our on-the-go barrier balm with our best-selling Ultra Facial Cream for non-stop hydration and barrier strength.


After applying the skincare stick, use your fingers to gently blend it into your skin. Use small, circular motions to help the product absorb fully. This will help to distribute the product evenly and effectively.


Our Ultra Facial Barrier Balm is specifically formulated to strengthen the skin barrier with each swipe—we recommend reapplying the hydrating formula as needed throughout the day to give your skin that added layer of protection and ultimate hydration. If you’re following with a sunscreen stick for SPF protection, we recommend reapplying it every 90 minutes, especially if you’re spending time outdoors.


If you find that you have applied too much of the hydrating stick, you can use a cotton pad or tissue to gently remove any excess formula. This will help to prevent your skin from feeling too greasy or weighed down.


Whenever possible, we recommend swiping the skincare stick on a clean tissue to clean the surface before storing and to ensure a clean surface next time you apply it.


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