Winter Skin Care

‘I’m an Esthetician, and This Barrier Repair Cream Has the 2 Essential Ingredients To Fix Dry, Angry Skin’

Photo: Getty Images/ Oliver Rossi
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My skin has been going through it these last few months. After spending a week in New Mexico's dry, winter air, my complexion felt scaly, and anytime I'd apply any skin-care product, patches of skin would sting and redden. To make things worse, I was testing out some new retinol serums and didn't think to slow my roll (retinol is strong enough to cause irritation if you overdo it). My complexion was so angry, I could feel a sharp sting as sweat dripped down my face during my workout (literally adding salt to the wound). I had to course-correct, stat.

So, I busted out the thickest, most heavy-duty moisturizer I own: Murad Intense Recovery Cream, and it was the only skin-care product I used for a week (aside from Kinship Naked Papaya Gentle Enzyme cleanser, a face wash that didn't completely strip my face of its natural oils—I highly recommend this to anyone with dry or sensitive skin!).

This stuff feels more like a balm (its consistency actually reminds me of a lip balm versus a creamy moisturizer), and you only need a dime-sized dollop to cover your whole face thoroughly. It was the tall drink of water my skin desperately needed—and it worked. After a few days, my skin was back to feeling bouncy and smooth, and the irritation had totally disappeared.

Murad Intense Recovery Cream was the perfect antidote to what we call sensitized skin. This happens when the skin's barrier has been weakened due to the elements or harsh products (or both), which causes redness, flaking, and intense dehydration—aka precisely what I was dealing with.

Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, previously told us that when your skin is in a sensitized state, it's "unable to defend itself against many other surrounding influences that it would typically be able to withstand." The combination of harsh and sudden change in climate and too much retinol is what caused my combination (and normally not easily agitated) skin to become sensitized. And for those experiencing sensitized skin, pros recommend simplifying your routine, avoiding harsh ingredients, and infusing your skin with a barrier cream—like Murad Intense Recovery Cream.

What makes the formula a great barrier-repairing candidate is its star ingredient, mirabilis jalapa, a plant extract native to Peru that has tons of soothing properties. "It has soothing benefits and also includes stimulating ceramides to reinforce skin barrier," esthetician Shani Hillian tells W+G. When I asked about the moisturizer specifically for healing skin that's been irritated due to retinol use, she explained, "Overdoing retinol can wreak havoc to skin barrier and cause major dryness and damage. This plant helps rebuild and repair barriers." Jackpot!

Another key ingredient in Intense Recovery Cream is microalgae, one of skin care's Swiss Army Knives. Hillian tells us that it helps with fine lines and wrinkles, along with brightening your complexion and hydrating skin. "Any algae used in skin-care drives hydration more than anything," Hillian reiterates.

Murad customers swear by this cream for more than just irritated, grumpy skin. In a review titled "Honestly, I'll buy for life," one person writes, "Truly hydrating and dense across my face. My skin has never looked better. I get really bad hormonal acne, and I swear it has kept everything together." Another says, " Now that I'm in my 30s, I noticed some not-so-flattering changes in my skin. After just a few uses, my skin looks and feels like a million bucks... Fine lines are evened, irritated, red skin is soothed, under-eye darkness is diminished, and dull, lackluster skin is a thing of the past."

Mostly, though, it's lauded for its ability to near-instantly hydrate and nourish skin. Another customer says, "As soon as I got to my car, I put some on over my full face of makeup. It instantly offered relief to the tightness of my dry skin. [After that], I couldn't wait for my nighttime skin-care regimen! This morning when I woke up, my skin not only felt so much softer, it looked so good. The extreme dry areas around my mouth are visibly softer, the tightness not there as well as the redness is gone."

By this point, my skin has made a full recovery, and I'm back to slathering all kinds of skin-care ingredients on my face. But I'll always have this jar at the ready if things go wrong again.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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