Vibrational spectroscopy and imaging have been used to compare barrier properties in human skin, porcine skin, and two human skin equivalents, Epiderm 200X with an enhanced barrier and Epiderm 200 with a normal barrier. Three structural characterizations were performed. First, chain packing and conformational order were compared in isolated human stratum corneum (SC), isolated porcine SC, and in the Epiderm 200X surface layers. The infrared (IR) spectrum of isolated human SC revealed a large proportion of orthorhombically packed lipid chains at physiological temperatures along with a thermotropic phase transition to a state with hexagonally packed chains. In contrast, the lipid phase at physiological temperatures in both porcine SC and in Epiderm 200X, although dominated by conformationally ordered chains, lacked significant levels of orthorhombic subcell packing. Second, confocal Raman imaging of cholesterol bands showed extensive formation of cholesterol-enriched pockets within the human skin equivalents (HSEs). Finally, IR imaging tracked lipid barrier dimensions as well as the spatial disposition of ordered lipids in human SC and Epiderm 200X. These approaches provide a useful set of experiments for exploring structural differences between excised human skin and HSEs, which in turn may provide a rationale for the functional differences observed among these preparations.