As someone who loves trying new skincare products, I appreciate a good sunscreen or cleanser, but serums are where I think you get to have all the fun. With transformative skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acids and squalane, those little bottles of liquid gold let you customize your skincare routine to fix any issue, like lightening dark spots or banishing a pesky breakout.
That's all to say that I couldn't wait to get my hands on what some beauty addicts were calling the "holy grail of skincare" after it went viral on TikTok: KraveBeauty's Great Barrier Relief serum. Packed in a tiny green bottle selling for $28, this formula was being touted as a better-than-all-the-rest, can't-live-without solution for dry, sensitive skin. So, after doing my research and speaking with a dermatologist, I clicked "add to cart" and incorporated GBR into my daily skincare routine. After using it for the better half of a year, I'm convinced nothing in my beauty cabinet can ever top it. Here's everything you need to know.
What is KraveBeauty?
The Korean beauty brand may be new to the skincare game but it has already made its rounds on TikTok, beloved by SkincareByHyram, social media influencer Emma Chamberlain and every "SkinTok" enthusiast in between. Founded by YouTube star Liah Yoo in 2017, the brand's motto is #PressReset — with only four products in the entire KraveBeauty line, the focus is on simple, basic skincare ingredients, without fragrances, colorants, animal byproducts or essential oils.
What does Great Barrier Relief do?
First, let's start with the benefits of skin serums, in general: Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Monica Li told me that a good serum will deliver on its claims (backed by scientific evidence, of course). But she also told me to keep in mind that "skincare is not one-size-fits-all. The right serum is one that is compatible with the goals, skin needs and skin type of an individual." As someone who's struggled with dry, sensitive skin with the added dose of temperamental eczema, I was intrigued by GBR's promise to calm and sooth skin.
Made with a nourishing blend of oils (safflower seed, tamanu and rosehip) as well as ceramides (which help support a healthy skin barrier), niacinamide, glycerin and squalane (hello, brightness and hydration!), GBR serum is designed to offer a hydrating effect and is best for those who experience redness and have dry, irritated skin, says Dr. Li.
How to use Great Barrier Relief:
I lather it onto every inch of my face on a daily basis, doing double duty (that is, in the AM and the PM). It's unscented, which earns it another win in my book for sensitive skin types everywhere. Plus, it just feels super refreshing — its yogurt-like consistency leans more toward a creamy texture rather than a heavier whipped formula. In the face of my "bad-skin" days that consist of red patches, dry flakes and taut skin, this moisturizing serum helps me tame that irritation and repair my skin barrier.
In the more humid months (read: sweat-drenched NYC summer), I use GBR as my sole moisturizer, topping it off with sunscreen per Dr. Li's recommendation. But once cooler temps come around and evaporate all the moisture from my skin, I bump my skincare routine up a notch and layer a thicker moisturizing cream on after applying GBR.
But Dr. Li says my method can be adjusted for almost any skin type. "Acne-prone skin types may find adding a moisturizer on top of a cream-oil serum [like GBR] to cause breakouts," says Li. "Adjust by layering a moisturizer on only when your skin tells you to — it is your best individualized guide!" For oily skin types, KraveBeauty's site recommends layering on small amounts of the serum at a time, rather than piling on a giant pump all at once.
Over the past year or so of use, I feel that GBR has seriously helped brighten and hydrate my complexion. IMO, it's definitely delivered on its claim to calm and soothe my skin.
Since I adopted the serum into my daily skincare regimen, I've felt less compelled to experiment with my normal routine of skincare roulette, which I think has calmed my skin as well. And my wallet has reaped the benefits, too: one bottle has lasted me nearly a year of daily use. So if you're looking to protect your skin barrier and invest in long-term results, this viral serum-moisturizer is sure to go the distance.