Tried and tested, these are the best moisturisers on the market. We’ve looked at products for dry skin, oily skin and sensitive skin.
Day moisturisers are one of the most important parts – if not THE most important part – of your skincare routine. Moisturisers are designed to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier against environmental aggressors like the sun or cold temperatures, which is why they’re so important. It’s like giving your skin a shield before you step outside. Some moisturisers can also provide additional benefits like an SPF, antioxidant protection and even anti-ageing properties. It all depends on which moisturiser you choose.
If you’re looking for the right moisturiser for you, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve tested dozens of products and pulled together a list of the best of the best. We’ve explained the ingredients and found products for every skin type. In no particular order, scroll through to see our top picks.
1. La Mer Crème de la Mer
The original product by La Mer is cult for a reason. I’ve been using this on and off for about two years and it transforms my skin. After just a few days of use, my skin takes on a glassy quality. It’s blemish-free, pore-free and line-free with a glowy, almost lightly damp look. It’s what I use when I want to look like a China doll – a brown one of course. I’ve never found anything quite like this product, which is most unfortunate, because this cream is hideously expensive. But if you’re concerned about the size of your pores, lines or any other skin damage issue, this is the healing balm that will fix it. Of course, if your skin concerns are more severe, you may need to turn to a serum.
This product only works properly if you apply a decent amount. Don’t try and skimp, because you won’t get the full benefits. The product comes with a spoon in the box to help you measure the right amount. I use this as a day cream and a night cream, but swap it out on hot sunny days for something a little lighter and with an SPF. I have oily skin and this is very rich, so it can be a bit too much on sweaty 30-degree days. But for general use, especially during winter or for dry skin, this is my top pick. It also sits beautifully under makeup.
Dermalogica products are formulated by a team of dermatologists, so you know the products are intelligently designed. The Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery moisturiser is the only good quality moisturiser with a substantial SPF that I’ve been able to find on the market. As much as I love the sun, it’s the key environmental aggressor that determines how well or badly your skin will age, so daily sun protection is essential, as it should be for every person that cares about their skin. This moisturiser offers a high SPF of 50+, with minimal flashback in photos – this is often a concern for moisturisers with an SPF. It is also reasonably kind to your pores. Most moisturisers with an SPF clog my pores and make me break out, but this one generally doesn’t do that unless it’s a really sweaty day.
The actual moisturiser uses a combination of anti-ageing ingredients to help your skin stay young. It’s got loads of antioxidants and collagen peptides to help prevent further skin damage and to help rebuild the foundations of young-looking skin. It’s a medium-weight product, which makes it great for anyone with oily or breakout-prone skin who is looking for a serious anti-ageing product. It’s not ideal for those with heavy acne or very sensitive skin, but it’s great for almost everyone else. This is the best option for those looking to protect their skin against the sun and to reverse existing damage.
This is the perfect moisturiser for sensitive skin. The irritant-free formula helps to reduce skin sensitivity over time by soothing and providing protection from environmental aggressors. I really like pump-bottle packaging for sensitive skin formulas, because it stops the product from being contaminated with any dust or dirt from your fingers.
I used this for the first time after I woke up with a severe allergic reaction on my face. After a few days, I turned to this product and it calmed my rash significantly in just a day. I didn’t continue to use this product because I generally like my moisturisers to include a few anti-ageing ingredients and an SPF. But if there is ever a situation where I’ve had a big breakout, allergic reaction, rash or any other sort of sensitivity, this is my fix-all solution.
Those with hyper-sensitive skin may be tempted to skip skincare products entirely, but moisturisers offer a protective barrier that helps your skin hold onto its natural oils and water. So if you’re not using a moisturiser – especially when it’s windy and cold – your sensitive skin will end up worse off. This moisturiser is the best solution in my opinion.
This is the moisturiser I used all through my teen years. The primary function of a day moisturiser really should be to protect the skin and stop the cold, wind and sun from drying it out or removing its natural nutrients. According to the Clinique’s website, this lotion “helps strengthen skin's own moisture barrier by 54%, so more moisture stays in”, which means that this moisturiser does a particularly good job at protecting your skin from moisture loss.
This moisturiser was the best for me as a schoolgirl and uni student because when you’re running from class to class, spending lunch in the sun, dealing with bus and train air conditioning, walking around campus in the wind, walking through the city and waiting for public transport, you really need something that will protect your skin from losing water. Also, it’s reasonably light-weight and didn’t exacerbate my teenage breakouts.
I thinks this is a great everyday option for busy people who aren’t too fussy. It wears beautifully under makeup, it’s never greasy and it absorbs quickly. There aren’t many antioxidant or anti-ageing ingredients in this mix, so it’s perfect for those searching for something simple. It’s also surprisingly affordable. It’s roughly $50 for a big 125mL bottle, which I personally think is fantastic value for a premium product.
This product is another great option for those searching for something simple without too much fuss. The Ordinary’s Natural Moisturising Factors is named after the compounds that occur naturally in your skin that keep your complexion hydrated, moisturised and nourished. These natural moisturising factors including things like hyaluronic acid (yes, this does occur naturally in your skin), amino acids and fatty acids.
Unfortunately, environmental aggressors like the wind, sun and even stress can reduce the natural moisturising factors present in your skin. The Ordinary’s cream is specifically designed to address this. It contains a curated mix of these factors and is designed to give your skin a little top up of anything it may be lacking. And the results are quick. If you have dry skin in the morning, it will be plump and bright again within the hour.
I love to use this in combination with some of the brand’s serums. I find it provides the perfect seal over my skin to keep all the water in and let that serum get to work. It’s light and not oily, so it’s perfect for makeup wearers. It’s also very affordable.
Charlotte Tilbury was a makeup artist to the stars before she had her own makeup and beauty line. One thing she was famous for was her secret magic cream that she used to carry around to her appointments – a formula that she’d created herself. After many years of requests and demands from celebrity clients for more of her famous cream, she decided to produce it en masse. Thus, Charlotte’s Magic Cream was born.
We don’t know exactly what is in this because some of the formula is patented. This normally makes me suspicious. I don’t like not knowing what’s in my creams. How will I know if it works? But there is a lot of evidence to show that it does indeed work. I personally have only tried this a few times so I can’t attest to any long-term effects, but it does give your skin an instant lift. It’s the sort of cream I’d like to slather all over my face ahead of an event or occasion where a lot of photos will be taken. Some of the ingredients (that we know of) include peptides, hyaluronic acid, camellia oil, vitamin E and rosehip oil. Basically all the skincare super ingredients in one pot.
The downside is that it’s a bit pricey. But if you can afford it, it’s worth it. I can see why this is such an in-demand celebrity product.
This is the moisturiser I buy for my dad. A few years ago he started becoming more concerned about his skin ageing and was in the market for an anti-ageing moisturiser. Generally, most people will get better anti-ageing results from a targeted serum, but he didn’t want too much fuss. He spends a lot of his days working in the sun, so he needed something light that wouldn’t be too sweaty or hot, but something strong enough to protect his skin from sun damage and moisture loss. It couldn’t have retinol or any overly strong active ingredients because he has very easily irritated skin and has quite bad reactions that sometimes require medication.
Sounds likes a tough brief? Well it actually wasn’t thanks to Sukin. This drugstore brand is all-natural and very gentle. Sukin makes its products without parabens, phthalates, silicones and all those other ingredients that can trigger sensitive skin. But many of the products still have an active ingredient kick!
I like this moisturiser because it has some great anti-ageing benefits from the rosehip oil, which encourages skin renewal, and from the jojoba and avocado oils, which nourish and protect. It’s a really good option for those partial to zero-fuss, all-natural products that still provide an anti-ageing benefit.
8. Tatcha The Water Cream
This cult product is the answer to so many problems that people have with moisturisers. Heaviness, greasiness, poor penetration, shininess, lack of hydration – all these problems have been solved by this one cream.
This is an oil-free formula packed full of hydrating ingredients that add water to your skin, not oil. As with many Japanese and Korean beauty products, it also works to refine and tighten pores, for smooth, blemish-free skin. It also boasts another Japanese botanical called leopard lily, which can help to regulate oil production in the skin and increase cell turnover.
Basically, this is a fantastic moisturiser for anyone with oily skin who still wants a hard-working product. Very often, moisturisers with a buffet of anti-ageing ingredients can be too oily for blemish-prone skin. But like I said, this cream is a problem solver. It’s no surprise that US Sephora can’t seem to keep it in stock.
- MECCA rating: 4.4/5 stars
- Price: $99 for 50mL
- Where to buy: MECCA, Tatcha
- Best for: Oily skin, combination skin, normal skin, ageing skin.
This cream makes my list because it treats skin conditions in a different way. Rather than looking at breakouts as a cause of excess oil or rashes as a cause of dryness, Sebamed views these as a disruption in the skin’s protective barrier and natural PH levels. When the PH of your skin is compromised, this is when your skin is open to lumps, bumps, congestion, dryness, flaking and other issues.
PH disturbance is actually a lot more common than you’d think. Even sitting in an overly air conditioned office is enough to destabilise the acid mantle of your skin. Sebamed’s cream supports the natural barrier function of the skin and helps your skin remain at a PH of 5.5. It also includes 2% vitamin E, which helps smooth and offers antioxidant protection.
If you find that you have a lot of smaller skin concerns that haven’t been solved by other products, then you should definitely give this a try. It’s an excellent product for those with sensitive skin, dryness, irritation and congestion.
- Makeup Alley rating: 4.2/5 stars
- Price: $14.99
- Where to buy: Sebamed, Amcal
- Best for: Problematic skin, sensitive skin.
Trilogy’s Age Proof line is a new obsession of mine. Effective, anti-ageing day moisturisers are quite hard to find because many anti-ageing ingredients – like retinol – are rendered ineffective by sunlight or make your skin sun-sensitive. This is why you’ll find that most hard core anti-ageing products are intended for night use. But this cream is a day moisturiser that still packs an anti-ageing punch.
It’s got lots of plant-derived hyaluronic acid for plumpness and hydration, fatty acids to protect the moisture barrier of the skin and to nourish, and melon extract to help strengthen the skin. The key ingredient, hydroxyproline is an amino acid that helps stabilise collagen. It helps damaged skin retain it’s elasticity and texture, which is why it’s often found in stretch mark creams. This combination of ingredients makes Trilogy’s Day Cream a great anti-ageing option that won’t cause sun sensitivity. It’s also a lot more affordable than other high-power anti-ageing products.
As this is an anti-ageing product, it’s not the best option for very oily skin, but it would be perfect for normal or dry skin. Just remember to add your own SPF because this doesn’t have any.
Trilogy makes the list again with the Balancing Face Lotion. This particular formula is targeted at oily skin. But instead of drying oily skin out, it balances oil production. As someone who has rather oily skin, I hate products that dry my skin completely. A bit of oil is good to keep your skin protected. I love this Trilogy option because it works to settle the oil production of your skin and calm it down, rather than removing and stripping the existing oils from your skin.
I love this moisturiser for summer, particularly during the evening. It’s really light, sits well under makeup and will stop me from getting shiny on humid evenings when I’m likely to be a bit sweaty. I find it stops my face looking like an oil slick by the end of the night.
The moisturiser includes Trilogy’s trademarked Rosapene formula, calming aloe, anti-inflammatory ginkgo and antioxidant rich green tea, so there are still a number of anti-ageing and nourishing benefits to this product, even if it is targeted at oily skin.
Real girl favourites
bareMinerals Butter Drench Restorative Rich Cream
This moisturiser was really amazing last year when my skin was super dry. I get really bad eczema and dry skin on my face and it seemed to clear it up. Super hydrating!
It's designed to suit dry-combination and combination-oily skin, so it's a good all-rounder moisturiser if your skin changes throughout the month. It also contains UVA protection, so it's a great option for keeping your skin hydrated and protected during the day.
I love the fact that it has SPF in it and I like the dewy finish it gives.
What does day moisturiser do?
The main function of a moisturiser is to increase, improve and strengthen the moisture barrier of your skin.
The top layers of your skin work to keep water, oils and other important nourishing properties inside of the bottom layer of the dermis and in your body as a whole. Certain environmental factors, like wind, sun or cold, can weaken the skin and can cause your skin to be less effective at keeping all the good stuff in. Have you ever have had flaky or chapped skin on a windy day? That’s because your skin’s barrier was weakened and all the water and oils in your skin dissipated, leaving your skin broken and cracked. Moisturisers help the skin keep water and good oils inside your skin.
But some moisturisers can offer additional benefits. Some may also provide your skin with extra oils and water in addition to helping to seal it all in. Some moisturisers have anti-ageing benefits, some can reduce oiliness, some can mend flakiness or dryness. It all depends on the type of moisturiser.
Is moisturiser good for oily skin?
It depends on the moisturiser.
If you have a skin issue that is of concern to you, you will need to choose your moisturiser carefully. Not all moisturisers are created equal and many are designed for specific skin types.
Some moisturisers can make a real difference to oily skin, helping to improve texture and even stop excess oil production.
For very oily or oily skin you should look for a light and balancing moisturiser. Balancing moisturisers can help regulate oil production, so if your skin is producing too much, a balancing moisturiser will calm it down. You should also look for ingredients and products labelled non-comedogenic, which means that it won’t block pores.
Does moisturiser help acne?
Again, this depends on the moisturiser.
If you have very problematic acne, then your first stop should be a dermatologist. A medical professional will be able to provide you with sound, tailored advice for your skin issue.
There are many moisturisers on the market specific to acne sufferers. If your health professional can recommend a moisturiser specific to you, you will find that you can get very good results and skin benefits.
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