What we want from our beauty products has changed enormously over the past year, accelerating the ongoing convergence of our needs for both beauty and health.

For the modern beauty consumer, it’s no longer enough to focus on how our daily routines make our skin look and feel. We want beauty products to protect our health and promote our wellness with all-natural and sustainable ingredients. Immunity and prevention are also top on our lists, and demand for products with those benefits boosts sales as much as 14% in some markets.

We can find evidence for the coming together of beauty and health in the very items we add to our beauty kits. One example: barrier cream, a product that, until recently, required a prescription. Now, brands are making this all-important skin defense accessible — and some are taking a decidedly all-natural approach.

Combining beauty with wellness, barrier cream boosts skin defense

Sure, protecting your skin is about looking younger longer, but it’s also about protecting skin health. As Japan sees a recent rise in yuragi-hada, a condition in part associated with the effects of climate change, in which the skin becomes temporarily sensitive due to a decrease in skin immunity caused by seasonal or environmental changes, modern beauty products offer more than a youthful glow. Worldwide, as the impact of climate change affects people everywhere, beauty routines will have to take into account new stresses that create skin imbalances.

Here’s how barrier creams work to do just that: They create a moisture veil to keep the skin hydrated and looking young, but they also protect it from dryness and irritation. These creams regulate the barrier function your body is working hard to maintain in the face of stress and the elements. 

“These essential skin protectors also help slow and stop the effects of aging, exposure to ultraviolet rays and the decline in skin immunity that can lead to uncomfortable sensitive skin,” said Misa Kurashina, brand manager at BIOLAB, which recently introduced a specialized brand of barrier cream.

BIOLAB’s Créme Brillante is part of the brand’s rapidly expanding line of phytotherapeutics for ingredient-conscious skincare routines — and it’s part of a growing sector of J-beauty products, which are not only reaching Japanese consumers but spreading to Western markets as well. Rooted in plant-based formulas, phytotherapeutics have been a rising force in the way cosmetics are changing, bringing beauty and health together into one complementary formula. 

Phytotherapeutics put the body’s natural healing power to work

Phytotherapy is a natural plant-based approach to wellness and health, and people around the world have used it for centuries. More recently, “plant extracts and their derivatives have received considerable attention as therapeutic agents for preventing and treating health problems,” writes Maria Pontes Ferreira, a professor at Wayne State University’s department of nutrition and food science. Ferreira was part of a team behind a recent study of how food and dietary supplements can keep our bodies working right.

“It is a therapy that works on our body’s natural healing power, so it is very different in that it not only replaces the disorder but can also continuously lead to a healthy state by holistically balancing the body,” said Kurashina, at BIOLAB. 

It’s this approach that inspired Créme Brillante. The new barrier cream is for “people who prefer natural products such as plants instead of chemical substances, or people with sensitive skin or allergies, people with atopic eczema and people with various stresses,” Kurashina said. 

As for what’s inside the tube, given a chance to explore the phytotherapeutic chemistry of Créme Brillante — from peaches to hops — what BIOLAB has come up with turns out to be an essentially pure skincare approach.

Inside Créme Brillante — formulating an all-natural defense 

Starting with what’s in BIOLAB’s new barrier cream, Créme Brillante is a blend of ougon, peach, chamomile, aloe vera, horsetail and hops. Each has a particular role to play in protecting skin, naturally. 

Ougon, which is Chinese tallow, prevents irritation while moisturizing skin, while peach extract, aloe vera and hops add to the nourishing hydration the cream delivers. Chamomile offers added protection against the irritation outside and indoor elements can cause, and then the plant horsetail gives skin a firming, tightening lift. Applying the cream twice a day, morning and night, the barrier cream builds on the body’s natural protective systems.

Meanwhile, BIOLAB has taken steps to make sure Créme Brillante is an experience for the senses as well. Laced with oils of wild rose, “BIOLAB has created a unique process that keeps the scent of the essential oil fresh, and many people fall in love with the scent,” said Kurashina. “They say that the smoothness and freshness of the product, when applied and spread, is something that no other cream can offer.”

Add one more ingredient in the Créme Brillante mix, too: sustainability. 

Sourcing the peach extract that goes into BIOLAB’s barrier cream starts with upcycling. The brand is working with farmers in Wakayama Prefecture, in Japan, taking advantage of the small young peaches the growers pick early-on to promote higher quality among the older, larger fruit. Instead of going to waste, many of those unwanted peaches go into Créme Brillante. 

As we look for ways to bring beauty and health together, taking action on behalf of your skin isn’t just about looking young, it’s also about the essentials of staying healthy. Innovations in products such as barrier creams are part of that commitment, delivering on the promise of looking young along with the prevention, healing and sustainability that is the new normal in our daily skincare routines.