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The best moisturisers to keep your skin healthy and hydrated, recommended by leading skincare experts

The Recommended spoke to two skincare experts to get their take on what makes the perfect moisturiser.

the best moisturisers

We all know that taking care of our skin is important. Our day-to-day environments can take a heavy toll on our skin. Come rain or shine, pollutants, adverse weather, artificial heating, and air conditioning can leave skin feeling tight, dehydrated, and generally unhappy. So, how can we protect our skin and pack in that essential moisture? We thought you’d never ask.

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Incorporating a quality moisturiser into your skincare routine, applied before your SPF and any foundation or make-up, is a great way to keep your skin hydrated all year round. It is important to find a product that is specially formulated for your skin type and concerns, but with so many options on the market, where do you start? Well, that’s where we come in.

The Recommended spoke to two skincare experts to get their take on what makes the perfect moisturiser. We took their advice and scoured the internet to find the best moisturisers for every need.

Jump to the best moisturisers:

Our skincare experts

Rachael Fuss, Dr. Sophie Shotter

Dr Sophie Shotter is an award-winning aesthetic doctor with over a decade of experience in the industry. Dr Sophie works from her award-winning clinic in Kent and 10 Harley Street, specialising in holistic approaches to anti-ageing and wellness. Dr Sophie is committed to helping patients take control of their health through hormone optimisation and aesthetic treatments and has left hundreds of adoring patients looking and feeling their very best.

Rachael Fuss is a US-based content creator and skincare enthusiast that has quickly established herself as an authoritative voice in the online beauty community. Rachael launched Skincare Standard in 2018 and has since amassed a large following of beauty lovers who turn to her skincare, makeup, and review content for her latest tips and tricks. Rachael has worked with several iconic beauty brands, including Charlotte Tilbury and Youth To The People.

What should you look for when buying a moisturiser?

When asked what to look for in a moisturiser, Dr Sophie had plenty to tell us:

  • Humectants: You need to get good at reading ingredient lists, but glycerin, hyaluronic acid, aloe, gluconolactone, and urea are all examples of humectants that will attract water from the air and the skin’s deeper layers.
  • Occlusives: These will lock in the moisture by preventing it from evaporating and are great additions for dry skin but less for acne-prone skin. Examples include jojoba oil, shea butter, and lanolin.
  • Barrier repair ingredients: Ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol are the key components of our skin’s lipid barrier. You will find these in many moisturisers, and they are particularly good for sensitive and dry skin.
  • Preservatives: If your product doesn’t contain preservatives, it will breed bacteria and fungi. Parabens are one type of preservative that you can easily spot on the ingredients list, but if you’re trying to avoid them, ensure the product has other preservatives.

Rachael agreed with Dr Sophie telling us, “hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin to hydrate and lock in moisture, as well as antioxidants like green tea to help neutralise free radicals. These will keep your skin feeling happy and healthy!”.

What should you avoid when looking for a moisturiser?

In terms of what to avoid when shopping for a moisturiser, Rachael told us, “I have sensitive, acne-prone skin, so I tend to avoid moisturisers with synthetic fragrance as they can irritate my skin, as well as comedogenic oils (like coconut oil) which can clog pores and lead to breakouts”.

Dr Sophie also advised against fragrances, telling us, “most fragrance in products is irritant, even if you think it’s from a ’natural’ essential oil, it doesn’t normally mean the best for your skin health. Dr Sophie also advised avoiding the following ingredients when looking for a moisturiser:

  • Silicone: This is a cheap ingredient which makes a product feel very silky. It actually forms a film on top of your skin which may make pores look more refined in the short term, but long term will slow down your skin’s natural exfoliation process.
  • Mineral oil: This also forms a seal on the skin like silicone, but it can be too occlusive. It may feel good short term, but long term will make your skin more vulnerable and not able to protect itself.
  • Sunscreen filters: Dr Sophie advises avoiding sunscreen in your moisturiser because it will inevitably mean you don’t apply enough sunscreen. Use a separate, dedicated sunscreen to give adequate protection.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids: These fatty acids oxidise quickly, and once oxidised, they will be pro-ageing rather than anti-ageing.
  • Oleic acid: This is naturally found in olive oil but can damage the skin barrier and should be avoided in skincare.

Which is the best moisturiser?

When asked for any specific moisturiser recommendations, Rachael told us, “For daytime, I love the Cloud Dew Oil-Free Gel Cream from Summer Fridays – it’s packed with hydration and antioxidants, and it’s free of oils and fragrances, so it’s great for acne-prone, sensitive skin. I like a richer moisturiser at night – the Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Face Cream has a blend of ceramides and fatty acids to intensely nourish skin and support the skin’s moisture barrier”.

Dr Sophie gave her votes to “the Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 by SkinCeuticals”, telling us it’s “rich, nourishing and includes Ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids in the same ratio as in the skin barrier.“ Dr Sophie also gave a shout-out to “The SkinBetter Science Trio Rebalancing Moisturiser”, telling us how it “also combines HA with ceramides and Natural Moisturising Factors for a nourishing and effective product”.

The best moisturisers

Best for dry skin: CeraVe Moisturising Cream

Value for money 

best moisturiser for dry skin

This ultra-hydrating moisturiser delivers on Dr Sophie’s recommendations as it is formulated with three ceramides and hyaluronic acid.

This moisturiser comes in various sizes and is suitable for use on both the face and body. This product promises 24-hour hydration and is formulated with three essential ceramides to protect the skin’s natural barrier.

Best affordable moisturiser: Simple Kind to Skin Hydrating Light Moisturiser

Light and gentle 

best affordable moisturiser

This cruelty-free vegan moisturiser is gentle on the skin and delivers light but effective hydration.

The Simple Hydrating Light Moisturiser lives up to Rachael and Dr Sophie’s love of fragrance-free products and contains Urea, a humectant recommended by Dr Sophie. This super-affordable moisturiser won’t break the bank but doesn’t compromise on quality as the skin-loving formula is made with nourishing ingredients, including Vitamins B5 and E.

Best for sensitive skin: Eucerin Sensitive Skin Redness Relief Soothing Night Creme

Gentle relief

best moisturiser for sensitive skin

This moisturiser helps to soothe redness and hydrate the skin without irritation.

This moisturiser is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, as recommended by our experts. This oil-free moisturiser is best used as part of an evening skincare routine. It is formulated with licochalcone, a skin-soothing extract of the liquorice root, to help soothe irritated, reddened skin.

Best tinted moisturiser: It Cosmetics CC+ Cream

Skincare meets makeup 

best tinted moisturiser

This award-winning tinted moisturiser gives subtle coverage and skincare benefits in one product.

This tinted moisturiser is the perfect alternative to foundation if you prefer a lighter look and want to pack in the skin-loving benefits of a moisturiser. This tinted moisturiser is infused with hyaluronic acid, collagen, and antioxidants, some of the key ingredients our experts look for. While this product does offer SPF 50, we recommend you take Dr Sophie’s advice and use a separate SPF to ensure maximum protection.

Best cruelty-free moisturiser: Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Beautiful Day Cream

Kind and natural

best cruelty-free moisturiser

This cruelty-free moisturiser is derived from 98% natural ingredients and works to support healthy, hydrated skin.

This moisturiser contains hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to soothe and hydrate the skin. This product is also formulated with alpine rose stem cells and pomegranate that work to revitalise the complexion and uplift tone.

Best for oily skin: Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Ageing Clear Skin Hydrator

Even and shine-free

best moisturiser for oily skin

This oil-free gel-lotion works contains expert-recommended antioxidants and green tea that work to hydrate and nourish the skin.

This soothing moisturiser is lightweight yet deeply hydrating and works to preserve the skin’s youthful-looking radiance. Niacinamide, Vitamin C and green tea extract work to even tone and fade breakout marks for smooth, clear skin.

Best premium moisturiser: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

Radiance boosting

best premium moisturiser

Dr Sophie recommended this moisturiser as it is “rich, nourishing and includes Ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids in the same ratio as in the skin barrier.“

This luxurious moisturiser is a premium choice for skincare enthusiasts. This rich cream works to leave skin looking fuller, smoother, and more even, with added radiance and improved hydration for 8 hours.

Best oil-free moisturiser: Summer Fridays Cloud Dew Oil-Free Gel Cream Moisturiser

To plump and protect

best oil-free moisturiser

This oil-free moisturiser is lightweight yet deeply hydrating, working to nourish and soothe combination to oily skin types.

Rachael called out this moisturiser as her favourite day cream, telling us, “it’s packed with hydration and antioxidants, and it’s free of oils and fragrances, so it’s great for acne-prone, sensitive skin”. This product is made with a blend of potent ceramides, minerals and amino acids that work to smooth and protect the skin.

Best firming moisturiser: Skinfix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream

Firming and plumping

best firming moisturiser

This moisturiser is a favourite of Rachael’s and is formulated with hyaluronic acid and rich shea butter.

Rachael recommended this product and told us how it “has a blend of ceramides and fatty acids to intensely nourish skin and support the skin’s moisture barrier”. This award-winning product also contains active lipids and peptides and works to brighten, firm and plump the skin.

Best for mature skin: Skinbetter Science Trio Rebalancing Moisture Treatment

For an even finish

best moisturiser for mature skin

This moisturising treatment is another favourite of Dr Sophie’s. This product is made with a triple-action formula that moisturises, hydrates, and rebalances the skin.

Dr Sophie told us this product “combines hyaluronic acid with ceramides and natural moisturising factors for a nourishing and effective product”. This award-winning product is formulated with a powerhouse of potent ingredients, including the ceramides and urea complex our experts swear by.

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Want to read more expert-recommended beauty product round-ups? Check out our Cosmetics page for a full list of recommendations, including our list of the best mascaras, the best foundations and the best fake tans  – and check out our guide to the best value beauty advent calendars of 2022