If you think that your new lounge-dwelling isolation status renders you immune to the moisture-sucking effects of the environment, it’s time to think again! Inside or out, our skin is always at the mercy of the atmosphere. Artificial heating, hot water, harsh soaps, sunlight coming through our windows, and even blue light emitted from screens are all culprits in skin stress. And what’s the best way to stop your skin freaking out? Take away the aggressors and reinforce the skin barrier.

The ‘skin barrier’ is a term that gets bandied about a lot in the derm world. So what is it exactly? A good way to think about it is to think of your skin cells as a wall. Collagen and elastin are the building blocks of the wall that support the structure. Between the blocks is a kind of cement, which contains lipids, oils and naturally occurring substances like Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramides.

Dermatologist Dr Ryan De Cruz explains: “The quality of our barrier is determined mainly by this ‘cement’ – the better quality the cement, the more likely the bricks of our wall are held together, and can prevent trans-epidermal water loss and irritation,” he says, adding that, “Ceramides are a critical component of the skin’s cement, which, for mostly genetic reasons, are reduced in people who have dry skin and eczema. Without them, our skin cells separate out, leading to increased loss of moisture and the introduction of harmful pathogens and chemicals.”

We can unwittingly damage our skin’s barrier with irritating skincare ingredients, harsh granular exfoliators (including those with strong acids), over-cleansing and even washing with water that’s too hot. And this in turn, can cause dehydration (leading to dry, irritated skin), premature aging and even sensitivity.

I’ve noticed since being at home for the last three weeks, my skin is more sensitive than usual. Whether it’s due to stepping up my at-home glycolic peels or indulging in extra-long hot showers, I’m not sure, but I have itchy and dry patches on my face. In times of skin meltdown, I always reach for minimalist, hydrating, fragrance-free formulations, and I’ve also read that applying a product containing Ceramides can help. Dr Ryan De Cruz says, “I encourage my patients to keep their skin care regimen simple – less is more when it comes to facial skin care, and the use of simple (derm-approved) cleansers and moisturisers formulated with Ceramides is preferable than complex, heavily fragranced products that can irritate the skin. Ceramides are not only important for a healthy appearance, but also for a healthy functioning skin.”

Enter CeraVe. The brand is the number one pharmacy range in the US and was developed by dermatologists in a bid to address skin conditions like eczema using Ceramides to create healthy, beautiful-looking skin. It contains three essential, skin-identical Ceramides that the skin needs, and delivers them to the skin progressively using MultiVesicular Emulsion (MVE) Technology, to maintain hydration levels in the skin for 24 hours.

Recently, CeraVe launched two new, much-anticipated arrivals to the range: the Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum and the AM Facial Moisturising Lotion with SPF 15. The brand was due to hold a spectacular launch in a private home in Sydney’s Vaucluse – which I had RSVP’d to – but once COVID hit, they decided to move the launch online. We were invited instead, to an engaging and informative live-streamed Media Session hosted by TV Presenter and brand advocate, Lauren Phillips, who interviewed dermatologist, Dr Ryan De Cruz, and L’Oréal Scientific Communications Manager, Rachel McAdam. I watched it from the comfort of my dining room table, latte in hand.

Lauren mentioned that she had converted many of her friends to the CeraVe range and raved about its effectiveness at tackling the dryness she often gets from wearing heavy makeup. A bevy of media beauties are also avid fans of this gentle but effective range. MTV reporter Ksenija Lukich has also credited CeraVe with assisting to address her severe eczema condition. With so many glowing testimonials, it seems to be the perfect antidote for my new-found dryness and flakiness.

Using the serum on cranky skin is like putting an ice pack on a burn. The unique cream-to-gel texture glides on beautifully, melting into my skin with a soothing cushiony effect. It contains Vitamin B5 which diffuses redness, and firming Hyaluronic Acid which attracts water molecules to the skin, topping up cell hydration over time.

The AM Facial Moisturiser has a light lotion texture and is also pumped with Hyaluronic Acid and skin star Niacinamide, along with the skin-loving Ceramides. It also contains SPF 15, to provide some protection from the UV that sneaks into my sun-drenched office, and catches me unawares when I’m hanging out the washing.

But the best thing about these two skincare superstars are they’re both under $30. Which, during these unpredictable financial times is such a blessing. Now there’s no excuse not to step up your hydration help – whether you’re quarantining or not.

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Words by Sigourney Cantelo. In collaboration with CeraVe.

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