Damaging my barrier was such an eye opening experience. Not only did I intimately understand the relationship that my barrier had to the health of my skin, I also learned how to take care of it and keep it strong!
Two products were vital to my journey, first to heal my barrier and then to keep it strong and healthy. Stratia Liquid Gold and Krave Great Barrier Relief.
This skincare comparison post has been 9 months in the making, but it’s finally here!
Skin type: Combo/dehydrated/sensitive/weak barrier
Both serums are intended to aid your moisture barrier, feeding it beneficial and strengthening ingredients.
Liquid Gold is a “lightweight but powerful moisturizer that fortifies your skin’s moisture barrier to help heal, hydrate, strengthen, and soothe.” (Stratia)
Krave Great Barrier Relief states that it’s “a skin-soothing serum that restores your damaged skin barrier while evening out your complexion.” (Krave Beauty)
So, both claim to heal and strengthen your barrier, but Krave takes it one step further by claiming to even out your skin tone.
Interestingly enough, both companies are female founded and independent. Krave was founded by YouTuber Liah Yoo who is passionate about skincare backed by science and not marketing hype. Stratia was founded by skincare blogger Allie Reed. Liquid Gold started from an idea sparked by a barrier care study about ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids and became a cult-classic indie skincare product. Both brands are straightforward, no-nonsense and rooted deeply in research, something I very much admire.
LIQUID GOLD: Water (Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Niacinamide, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Rosa Mosqueta (Rose) Hip Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Seed Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Oil, Panthenol, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Squalane (olive-derived), Cetyl Alcohol, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA
GREAT BARRIER RELIEF: 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
Common Goodie Ingredients: ceramides, cholesterol, fatty acids, niacinamide, rosehip oil, squalane, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and urea.
Golden Ratio. The biggest difference between the two is the “golden ratio.” The golden ratio combines the three most important ingredients for barrier repair, strengthening or just plain maintenance (ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids) in the proper ratio that mimics skin’s own natural levels of these compounds. The golden ratio is 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol and 15% fatty acids. When those ingredients are formulated to that ratio your skin is able to heal up a lot faster. While both products contain these ingredients, only Stratia Liquid Gold has them in the golden ratio.
Niacinamide. Both contain niacinamide which is a superstar in many ways for skincare, brightening, anti-aging and anti-acne, but it’s also particularly effective for helping your moisture barrier. High percentages of niacinamide can actually help stimulate your skin’s own synthesis of ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids! *mind blown* Concentrations of 2% and higher will have this benefit on skin. Krave contains 2% and Stratia contains 4% niacinamide. (Source)
A further word on the niacinamide percentages — Krave’s 2% niacinamide is enough to help brighten skin and help with the holy trinity (my nickname for ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids). Stratia contains more niacinamide, so does that mean it’s better? It doesn’t make the niacinamide stimulate *more* of the holy trinity on your skin but it does have the additional benefits of niacinamide, like brighter skin (2%-5% is the concentration best for brightening) and the 4% niacinamide found in Stratia is strong enough to stimulate collagen and protein production on the skin, giving it an additional anti-aging boost.
Ceramides. While not the only ingredient that will help your moisture barrier, it is arguably the one needed the most. Meaning, you can’t heal your barrier with ceramides alone, but you can’t heal it without ceramides either (at least not efficiently). Your skin’s barrier is naturally made up of about 50% ceramides and remember that golden ratio states that you need about 50% ceramides in relation to the other ingredients. So it’s pretty important to get a good and diverse amount.
Krave uses 1 form of ceramides, ceramides NP or ceramide 3. Stratia uses 3 forms of ceramides, ceramide NP (3), EOP (1) and AP (6 II). Ceramide EOP is especially important because it not only is a helper ingredient for ceramide NP (the only ceramide variety used in Great Barrier Relief), but it also helps aid your skin’s lipid layer which can directly help with barrier repair and fighting trans epidermal water loss (TEWL). (Source)
Tamanu Oil. Krave is also banking on their superstar ingredient tamanu oil, not found in Stratia Liquid Gold. Tamanu oil (making up a whopping 10% of GBR) not only contains a high amount of fatty acids (barrier goodie) and has good wound healing ability, it also has a high content of antioxidants and has a decent skin brightening benefit. While tamanu oil is not a direct barrier healer, it does have skin healing and regenerative properties that can help boost your overall barrier care routine.
Texture and Scent:
Pretty much the same here, these are both very rich, emollient and have a lotion-like consistency. Both claim they can be used as a lightweight moisturizer or can be layered underneath your favorite moisturizer. I found that neither was an effective moisturizer on its own and I always used this in combination with a final moisturizing cream.
The scent of Great Barrier Relief comes from the tamanu oil. Some describe it as “earthy.” I got a more salty and nutty scent from it that wasn’t unpleasant. Stratia has a more under the radar smell that if you pressed your nose right into you might get a little plastic-y plant-like smell. Please remember that both products are unscented (no added fragrance or essential oils) and both companies, in their own way, are committed to delivering no-nonsense ingredients lists.
Both serums layer extremely well with whatever you want to layer under and over it, with no pilling. While both have a slightly emollient finish, I didn’t find that either product left me greasy or shiny.
A quick note on Liquid Gold: It has been noted (and shown in the photo below) that Liquid Gold can leave a yellow tint on paler skin due to the natural golden color of the sea buckthorn fruit. I didn’t have any tinting issues with this and easily can wear this in the morning; lighter skin types might want to reserve for night use only. And yes it washes right off!
I happen to enjoy both of these products and have happily emptied 1 bottle each. While I do like and recommend both, I think there are some differences to be aware of:
Formulation. The biggest difference will come down to the formula as discussed above. I do think that if you are struggling with a damaged barrier you will find Stratia Liquid Gold will serve you best. You just can’t deny the golden ratio, and the higher amount of niacinamide in Liquid Gold will help you heal up faster. If you have a weak barrier, dehydrated skin or just want to maintain your barrier, then Krave Great Barrier Relief will definitely serve you well.
Price. The price of each is fairly similar, Liquid Gold retails for $24 for 60ml and Krave Great Barrier Relief is $28 for 40ml. You might have caught that Liquid Gold is a better value at $4 less than GBR and 20ml more product.
Brightening. I did notice a slight brightening effect with Great Barrier Relief, most likely due to the high amount of tamanu oil paired with the niacinamide.
Packaging. Liquid Gold comes in a non-fussy, airless pump that allowed me to get every last bit of product out. Krave comes in a traditional pump bottle that requires you, towards the end of the product, to tip the bottle upside down to get the last few uses out.
Accessibility. Both can be difficult to buy outside of the States. As mentioned previously, both are indie skincare brands and that can make them a touch inaccessible outside of the United States. Krave wins out slightly here with some 3rd party, international distributors like Beauty Box Korea and an official presence in South Korea and soon Malaysia, making me think international shipping will come soon. Stratia does ship internationally but that can come with some headaches and fees.
The Final Word:
I really do love both products, so don’t ask me to pick just one because that would be a Sophie’s choice!
What I will say is this:
- If you are dealing with a damaged barrier, please chose Liquid Gold. The ingredients and research behind it make it the superior barrier healing product.
- If you are seeking to keep your barrier strong, protect yourself from over-exfoliation or just manage the symptoms of a weak barrier (dehydration), Krave might be the best option for your barrier maintenance needs.
Either way you go, these products are worth seeking out and have been created with a lot of knowledge and love by two amazing and smart women in the skincare community.
Stratia Liquid Gold $24 60ml | Stratia Skin