Skin Feeling Ravaged By Winter? This Barrier-and-Microbiome Supporting Cleanser Is Exactly What You Need

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This time of year, the skin barrier takes center stage in the skin-care conversation. That’s because the cold, dry weather wreaks havoc on the delicate lipid layer responsible for retaining moisture, which is why skin becomes drier and more sensitive during the winter months. Typically, we rely on reparative, ceramide-packed serums and lotions to keep that barrier strong, but Glow Recipe’s latest launch—The Avocado Ceramide Moisture Barrier Cleanser ($28)—gives us a chance to supplement that process with a whole other step of our routines.

Generally speaking, cleansers’ main job is to keep our faces clean. Back in the day, our only options in the category were harsh, skin-stripping formulas that left our skin barriers worse for the wear. Over the years, we’ve seen cleansers get a whole lot more elegant, and this new product takes things to a whole other level.

When you think of barrier repair, you’re most likely to reach for a soothing ceramide serum—like our Avocado Recovery Serum—but repairing a compromised barrier actually starts with your cleanser,” says Christine Chang, one of the brand’s co-founders. “Choosing the wrong cleanser when your skin barrier is compromised can lead to further damage and irritated skin.”

The ingredients list is stacked with what Glow Recipe refers to as a “barrier-boosting blend,” and a deeper look proves that it’s exactly that. As you may have guessed from the product name, ceramides—a naturally occurring lipid that serves as the “glue” that holds your skin cells together—is the star of the show. Just last year, a study out of the Journal of Dermatologic Therapy named the active as the best ingredient for fortifying the skin barrier and preventing dryness, which is why we usually see them used in heavy creams and moisturizers. To see them heroed in a cleanser is exciting, to say the least.

Next, there are pre and postbiotics, which work together to support the skin microbiome—aka the layer of “good” bacteria that lives on the surface of your skin to keep it functioning optimally. Things like stress, harsh products, and dietary choices can disrupt this ecosystem and lead to sensitivities, and these ingredients help balance things out.

Also on the list? Colloidal oatmeal, which is celebrated for its ability to hydrate and calm skin (so much so that it’s often found in eczema-care products), and Avocado oil, which is rich in antioxidants and skin-nourishing vitamins.

Though this cleanser clearly goes above and beyond, it doesn't do so at the expense of functioning as an actual cleanser. It's got pH-balanced surfactants (aka cleansing agents) that are so gentle they're often used in baby body washes, and the avocado oil plays a supporting role  in picking up dirt, grime, and makeup (as you may remember from high school chem class, "like attracts like," which means oil-based skin-care products are great for removing oils from the skin).

When I tried the cleanser over the course of a week, I was generally surprised at how well it worked. Typically, creamy face washes like this one are reserved for the second step in my double cleansing routine (I've found they're just... not that good at taking off makeup), but I was impressed at its ability to melt away everything from foundation to glittery eyeshadow. What's more, my skin felt soft, moist, and strong after every use—aka the exact opposite of the usual "stripped" feeling you get from harsher formulas.

As someone with dry skin, I am militantly devoted to protecting my barrier at all costs. To know that this cleanser will now allow me to do just that in every step of my routine means that it will be a winter staple for years to come.

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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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