Barrier care is extremely important to me, as you may already know. I’m practically obsessed with all things barrier, from healing a damaged barrier to maintaining a strong barrier function, I’m the barrier queen!
Which is why I get particularly excited about products that are made specifically for the purpose of caring for your barrier. I mean, it’s not easy to find quality, effective products that are made as a targeted treatment to keep your barrier cozy and comfy.
Which is why I knew I had to get my hands on the newest release from Krave Beauty, Great Barrier Relief.
What is it?
Krave Great Barrier Relief is a serum designed to restore a damaged moisture barrier while also helping to even out your skin’s complexion.
Great Barrier relief is part of Krave’s supplement collection (separate from their core collection), to be used when skin has been pushed a little too far with chemical exfoliation, harsh ingredients or washing your face too much.
Krave Beauty is an indie American/Korean brand that was founded by YouTuber Liah Yoo. Krave is all about making skincare easier and simpler. Krave believes that the beauty industry needs to be more transparent with consumers and they are dedicated to the philosophy of #PressReset. Press Reset is all about listening to what your skin needs while ignoring the hype marketing of the beauty industry and focusing on giving your skin what it truly craves (hence the name).
Water, Propanediol, Calophyllum Inophyllum Seed Oil(10%), Dipropylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Cetearyl Olivate, Polysorbate 60, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Glyceryl Oleate, Sorbitan Olivate, Sorbitan Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Glycerin, Butylene glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Squalane, Serine, Acetyl Glutamine, Glycine, Ceramide NP, Oleic acid, Sodium PCA, Glycosyl trehalose, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Saccharide Isomerate, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour, Disodium Phosphate, Sodium Phosphate, Tocopheryl acetate, Coco-caprylate/Caprate, Lactic acid, Xanthan gum, Urea, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, Magnesium Chloride, 1,2-Hexanediol, Hydroxyacetophenone, Glyceryl Caprylate, Pentylene glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium EDTA
Ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids… and NMF!
If you’ve been following me on this blog or YouTube for a while, you know I am obsessed with what I call the holy trinity of barrier-loving ingredients: ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids. Why am I so evangelical about these ingredients and why do I look for them in every product that claims “barrier care?”
Ceramides, as you may know, are amazing for your skin’s moisture barrier. They make up about 50% of your skin and a lack of these babies is often what causes dehydrated skin or weak barrier functions.
But did you also know that ceramides are only 1 piece of the barrier puzzle? And did you also know that when applied topically, ceramides are more effective when mixed with two other barrier loving ingredients?
Cholesterol and fatty acids. These are the magic, additional ingredients that can effectively be considered the building block of your skin’s moisture barrier. A healthy and strong barrier is naturally made up of 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol and 15% fatty acids! When your barrier is weak or damaged, it’s lacking in some of these essential ingredients. Applying them together in a skincare routine means that you are giving your barrier all the important components it needs to heal!
Okay, so now we know why I’m so gung-ho about them, but are they in Great Barrier Relief?
Yes they are!*
Great Barrier Relief also includes a variety of NMF (natural moisturizing factors) to round out the deal. NMF are also naturally found in the barrier, and they essentially act as water-attracting compounds that can help the barrier retain more water — very important when the barrier function is damaged or weak.
*I am unaware if this serum contains the “golden ratio” of these ingredients.
Tamanu oil is really the ingredient that makes this barrier treatment unique among the few similar products out there. And Krave is really marketing this with the Tamanu oil front and center.
Which makes sense because Tamanu oil makes up 10% of this formula and is the 3rd listed ingredient. Liah Yoo has really made the once little known Tamanu oil famous in the skincare community, stating that it has helped her brighten up her skin better than any retinol or vitamin C product! I can see why she would want to create a product for Krave that shares the benefits of Tamanu oil with her fans.
Tamanu oil (for those that know it) is well known for its ability to brighten up the skin and fade hyperpigmentation; it also has wound healing capabilities and has skin regenerative properties. The Tamanu oil Krave Beauty uses is sourced from Madagascar, and Great Barrier Relief is crafted in small batches to ensure the freshness and effectiveness of the Tamanu oil.
(I’ll talk more about the Tamanu oil in just a little bit)
Rosehip and Safflower Oils
I was excited to see the use of these two oils in Great Barrier Relief because they are high linoleic acid oils. Oils high in linoleic acid are excellent for barrier care because they are 1) oil-soluble, which means they can penetrate deeply into the skin, and 2) they are naturally found in your barrier, so applying them topically means they can aid barrier strengthening.
High linoleic acid oils are suitable for all skin types but especially for oily, acne prone and dehydrated skin types. In fact, high linoleic acid oils can actually help regulate over production of sebum and help with thicker, waxy sebum that is more likely to clog pores (*cough* dehydrated skin *cough*).
Honorable Mention: Niacinamide
This serum contains 2% of niacinamide, everyone’s favorite ingredient. What can’t niacinamide do? Another natural component found in the moisture barrier, niacinamide can help brighten up skin, but it also helps skin retain moisture and fortifies the moisture barrier.
Scent and Texture:
Undiluted Tamanu oil is known for having a distinct earthy smell, and this serum does have that faint, earthy scent. I would say it’s a mix of earthy, nutty and slightly salty. While it’s not unpleasant, this is not scented for your pleasure, or should I say this does not have added fragrance to cover up the true smell of the ingredients. Krave is pretty committed to not using any artificial fragrance, and I recall Liah Yoo once saying that it was hard to formulate good smelling skincare without it, but it’s very important to Krave to leave the unnecessary ingredients out.
Don’t be fooled by the word “serum” because this is more like a thin cream. Great Barrier Relief is meant to be used in place of your moisturizer or just before it. The word serum is used because serums are generally skincare products that contain highly concentrated, beneficial ingredients used to laser target your skincare goals, which this product definitely is. But just don’t expect the texture of your other serums!
This is a thin, runny cream that absorbs very quickly and feels very emollient and nourishing on the skin, without any heavy weight or greasy finish. This layers perfectly with other skincare layers without any pilling.
*WARNING: I want to make it clear I did NOT use this product to heal a damaged barrier.
Some background: My skin is chronically dehydrated and I have a naturally weak moisture barrier that can easily be pushed too far. While my barrier function is the strongest it’s been in a long time, I want to make sure I keep my barrier-loving treatments in my routine to ensure it stays that way. I also have been working on adding retinol and vitamin C into my routine, so I want to make sure that I’m being extra cautious with my barrier during this time.
Two things stood out to me while using this product:
#1 It will act as a good “buffer” for chemical exfoliation. I had already introduced 1% retinol into my routine before starting this product but I was only using it 1x a week. While using this product I decided to bump up my application to 2x a week, and I was surprised my skin experienced no additional dryness or irritation. I also recently moved to 3x a week with excellent results and I definitely know this serum is playing a part in keeping my skin balanced and healthy.
#2 it will help prevent damage to your barrier. I had recently been sent a 17% vitamin C product for testing and while I had some reservations about my skin accepting it well, I did go ahead and try it. When I applied it I had that feeling that this wasn’t going to end well (sometimes you just know your skin is unhappy). I thought to myself “tomorrow morning I will be paying for this.” And I did wake up the next morning a little more dry and my skin did feel slightly irritated, but it wasn’t nearly anywhere near where I anticipated. I know this serum helped me avoid a total disaster with my moisture barrier and allowed me to bounce back quicker.
Will This Heal My Severely Damaged Moisture Barrier?
In my opinion, I don’t think this is really the very best product on the market to heal a severely damaged moisture barrier.
Let’s first make the distinction between a weak barrier and a severely damaged barrier.
Weak barrier: You have occasionally dehydrated skin; sometimes you feel like chemical exfoliation or harsh ingredients seem to push your skin a little too far but generally it’s not too bad.
Damaged barrier: Your skin is completely pissed off, irritated, dry, red and on fire. You can’t wait to wash your face and reapply your skincare because of how thirsty and dried out your skin feels. A lot of products, even gentle ones, make your skin sting.
If you have a damaged barrier, I don’t think this is the best product for you. Why?
Tamanu oil. The star ingredient of this serum is the one I have the biggest reservation about. Tamanu oil is well loved, but it’s also one that has a lot of mixed reviews. Tamanu oil users seem to be split 50/50; half of the people absolutely swear by it and the other half report irritation and increased breakouts.
I personally did experience a few pin prick sensations when I first started to use this, similar to what I feel when I use a product with irritating essential oils. However, it did go away after about a week. But this makes sense because many people have reported issues with Tamanu oil (and some with this product) aggravating acne or causing little whiteheads (a classic sign of ingredient irritation).
Which is why I am hesitant to recommend this to those of you out there that need a product to help you heal your moisture barrier from a really damaged state. When your barrier is damaged, it no longer works to keep moisture in or irritants out. Which means that potentially irritating ingredients like the Tamanu oil have the potential to absorb even deeper into our skin, past our moisture barrier, making our skin way more vulnerable to irritation. (This is the same reason why products that used to be fine for your healthy barrier start to sting and irritate you when your barrier is damaged.)
I also want to mention that this serum only makes use of one form of ceramides (ceramides NP) and I’d like to see a more diverse use of ceramides (remember, they make up 50% of your barrier).
Looking for a product to heal your damaged barrier? Check out my review of Stratia Liquid Gold.
Who is This Product For?
I don’t think this is a bad product, in fact I actually really like using it! I’ve totally noticed that my skin is stronger, takes to chemical exfoliation much better and I think this has also helped to brighten up my skin.
I think this product is most appropriate for weak barriers, dehydrated skin types, people who want a buffer product for chemical exfoliation or a product to have on hand when their skin has been pushed too far. This is an excellent product for barrier maintenance.
Great Barrier Relief retails for $28 for 40ml and a portion of the proceeds is donated to help save the Australian Great Barrier Reef. | Available at Krave Beauty (US) or Beauty Box Korea (International)