Newly Discovered

Water Lock

Rated 5.0 out of 5
Based on 43 reviews
Regular price$36.00

The world's first light, matte, skin-plumping "slugging" balm.

A completely waterproof protective barrier that’s also breathable and light, with a soft velvety finish, Water Lock provides immediate, otherworldly rehydration of even the most parched skin creating a nearly instant water-plumping effect.

Perfect as both a light daily moisturizer or as a robust, top-layer night cream.

Note: Requires water to work. See below. Sold separatly.
  • Lab-made batch, ready to ship

Hydration is the holy grail of skincare but there's a dirty little secret skincare companies like to deny:

No skincare product can hydrate your skin. Only water can.

Keeping water from escaping the skin once the skin is hydrated is the real challenge. Water Lock is the ultimate solution to this problem.

To create this profound, unearthly texture the Lab Team mixed a hand-picked selection of occlusive (i.e., water-sealing) molecules of various weights and shapes. These hydrophobic ingredients chain together in a complex, beautiful mesh, allowing airflow but not water escape.

This formula locks water into place and creates a dome-like barrier over the skin for better performance from your favorite anti-aging or rejuvenating skincare ingredients. 

It’s a totally different experience than the common “slugging” occlusive ingredients like petrolatum or lanolin, which are so heavy and thick that they can actually encourage bacteria proliferation underneath their greasy shield.

Purified Water, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Hyaluronic Acid, Panthenol, Squalane, Synthetic Beeswax, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate, Sodium Hydroxide

For light moisturization, apply a thin layer of Water Lock to damp skin after cleansing and applying serums or actives. 

For optimal hydration, apply a generous amount of Water Lock immediately after saturating your skin with water through repeated splashing or taking a shower.

Hot take: No skincare product can hydrate your skin.

Only water can.

Despite what the skincare industry would like us to believe, splashing your face with water for a few minutes or taking a shower are the best and only ways to actually rehydrate your skin once it's dry. The hard part is keeping this hydration sealed in before it evaporates (within minutes!) and preventing what is known in skincare science as transepidermal water loss or TEWL.

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What is "Slugging"?

"Slugging" means to apply a thick layer of occlusive (water proof) moisturizer, usually as the last step in your nighttime, routine to seal in moisture and actives. Traditionally, slugging requires the use of thick ointments like petroleum that are heavy, greasy-feeling and difficult to spread. Water Lock is a totally new slugging experience.

An otherworldly texture, made from a precise tangle of hand-picked molecules

To create this unique, semi-permeable but water-tight texture, Protocol's Lab Team meticulously combined a hand-picked selection of partially occlusive (moisture blocking) molecules that, when combined, chain together to form a complex, beautiful mesh that allows airflow but not water to escape. 

Simply by helping your skin to flawlessly retain water will help it to look plump, youthful, glowy and be more resilient against irritation.

Thick but light. Day or night.

This unique gel-balm formula is light and easy to spread for daytime and nighttime use. Unlike traditional slugging ingredients (like petrolatum that can encourage bacterial proliferation) this formula offers immense occlusion with a light, breathable shield. It’s non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types including acne-prone and sensitive skin. Water Lock is designed to seal water in place and is reinforced by glycerin, panthenol, and hyaluronic acid to introduce even more moisture into your skin. These perfect humectants absorb and hold water, creating plump, healthy skin and diminishing the appearance of dullness or fine lines.

Water Lock helps maximize absorption of your actives

Designed to pair with Protocol’s radically effective renewing line of products, Water Lock creates a bio-seal when applied over your go-to actives. In addition to promoting water retention, this gel-cream helps boost your skin’s absorption of active ingredients, optimizing the effects of retinoids and vitamin C.


Yes! To maximize the efficacy of the active ingredients in your serums, apply serum first, ideally to damp or saturated skin. Let your serum sink in completely before following with Water Lock.

If your skin is dehydrated, take a break from serums for as long as necessary. To help your skin recover, apply Water Lock immediately after showering or cleansing. This will lock in a maximum amount of moisture and allow your skin to return to normal.

Sunscreen should always be your final skincare step. If using Water Lock in the daytime, apply a small amount and let it sink in completely before applying your sunscreen.

Water Lock is the fastest and most effective way of completely rehydrating your skin and keeping it that way even in the harshest of conditions or even with working with a damaged skin barrier. It creates the instant water-plumping effect caused when your skin is saturated with water and a strong protective barrier for up to 72 hours.

The Niacinamide & Hyaluronic Acid Hydration Cream however, is for DEEP, active cellular renewal and to amplify the effects of retinol. It also works as the ultimate eye cream, providing an instant revival of dull skin into a smooth healthy glow upon application.

To learn more, check out our blog where we compare Water Lock and the Hydration Cream in more detail.

For most clients, we recommend using the Hydration Cream in the daytime for balanced hydration and antioxidant protection, and Water Lock at night to seal in your evening serums or to reverse dehydration.

If you’d like to layer both at the same time, apply the Hydration Cream first (after applying serums or directly to damp skin), followed by Water Lock. This will provide your skin with a lot of renewal, moisture, and protection at night, although it might be too heavy for daytime.

Yes, Water Lock can be used with topical treatments like tretinoin (commonly sold as Retin-A). There are a few ways to use both in one routine, depending on skin goals and skin sensitivity:

  • Per traditional guidance: Apply Water Lock to the lips, around the eyes, and nasal creases to act as a buffer. Apply a thin layer of tretinoin to your skin, avoiding those sensitive areas. Finally, apply a generous layer of Water Lock as your moisturizer.
  • Buffering tretinoin: Apply a thin layer of Water Lock to damp or saturated skin, followed by tretinoin. This method may minimize irritation for those with sensitive skin, but note that it likely slows tretinoin’s effects.
  • The “sandwich” method: To damp skin, apply a thin layer of a minimally occlusive hydrating formula such as the Hydration Cream. This will “buffer” the tretinoin, but not as extensively as fully-occlusive Water Lock. Next, apply your tretinoin, and finally, apply a generous amount of Water Lock to seal everything in.

This is not medical advice. Tretinoin is a prescription medication and should always be used under the guidance of your medical provider. Speak to your doctor about the best way to incorporate tretinoin into your skincare routine.

average rating 5.0 out of 5
Based on 43 reviews
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43 Reviews
Reviewed by Alicia L.
I recommend this product
Rated 5 out of 5
Review posted

What is this?

Purchasing obscure moisturizers in hopes of finding one that's just a little bit better than the next has been a little monthly dose of excitement in my life the last few years. I still might do this just for fun but I feel that my search for the perfect moisturizer is over: It's Water Lock. It has everything: A thick feel that spreads easily and sits super light and non-shiny but also still feels like it's keeping your skin hydrated seriously 24 hours later. I'm happy using this as much as for a daytime moisturizer as for a heavy night cream. I got to preview the product this summer but it seems like it would be the perfect winter moisturizer too. I may use other moisturizers just cuz it's fun but I will always have a tube of Water Lock within reach moving forward.

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Reviewed by James E.
Verified Buyer
I recommend this product
Rated 5 out of 5
Review posted

Ok, so I never slugged before, but— 👀‼️

This is a holy grail product, period.

I am a 41 y/o guy who has always taken great care of my skin, but hate fussy regimens. My boyfriend does slugging morning and night with Eucerin - which I tried twice, but I couldn’t handle the greasy, shiny, sticky feeling. I looked like I was completely greased over by 10am, and I hated how it stuck my skin to my pillows at night.

Now, I wash my face, spray on Magic Molecule, let that dry down, apply serums, and before they dry (I let them get to about 50% dry), I squeeze out about an inch of Water Lock and put it all over my face - under eyes, lids, brows - all of it.

I am less than 1 tube down, and have lost my: forehead wrinkle from questioning everything always, my smile lines, and the crinkles I was starting to get every time I smiled for photos. I have a 2nd tube waiting for me, and hope to never be without this product.

Non-greasy, matte, breathable, and SERIOUSLY over-performs. My face feels as soft as it did in high school. Definitely recommend- thank you for making this!! ❤️

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Reviewed by Anette
I recommend this product
Rated 5 out of 5
Review posted

Must have

Living in Colorado, I've struggled with keeping my skin hydrated in this dry climate. Water Lock has been a game changer, it's so lightweight and not greasy at all. It has transformed my nighttime routine, leaving my skin plump and thoroughly moisturized by morning.

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Reviewed by Justin
I recommend this product
Rated 5 out of 5
Review posted


Water Lock is a game changer. As a guy who's always on the move, its non-greasy, breathable formula keeps my skin fresh and hydrated without any fuss or a million steps. Highly recommend

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Reviewed by Lisa
I recommend this product
Rated 5 out of 5
Review posted

This works

Water Lock has been a real lifesaver for me. I've been dealing with sensitive skin issues, and this product has made a significant difference. I've been a fan of Protocol's products, but this one might just top my list.

After applying Water Lock my skin feels beautifully hydrated. The gel balm is super light, non-oily, and won't leave your face looking shiny. You don't need to use much – a little goes a long way, and it instantly soothes my skin, no redness or burning. So far, it's been amazing!

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