Best face moisturisers to soothe dry skin

Combat the effects of the cold on your skin with these hydrating products

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Beauty Pie
Ellie Davis11 January 2024
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When your skin is feeling parched and flaky, it’s time to call in reinforcements – and your first task should be stepping up your moisturiser game.

If your skin is dry, you’ll probably notice that makeup doesn’t sit quite right on the skin, ending up in balling and pilling, and you’ll feel a tight, desert-like texture. The difference between dry and dehydrated skin is important to know. The former is a skin type, while the latter is temporary and can be quenched with the products.

From ageing to skin conditions, dry skin has many causes. According to CeraVe Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Alexis Granite, there are environmental factors too as well as the results of harsh scrubbing. “Overusing active ingredients or constantly changing formulas” can have an impact.

When this happens, she explains, “your epidermal barrier function becomes impaired and too much water evaporates from the skin, causing a lowered water content in the stratum corneum. As the skin dries out, little cracks appear in the barrier, which may let in irritants and germs that can cause dermatitis and worsen existing skin conditions.” These can be the likes of eczema, psoriasis and keratosis pilaris.

This is a situation that you may find is exacerbated come winter and that is to be expected, Dr Granite shares that “the colder weather, wind and rain can cause skin to become drier and make it feel rough, scaly and irritated. During this time, our skin is under constant attack from the harsh outdoor elements as well as central heating leaving our skin dehydrated.” Summer isn’t great either, where elevated temperatures only serve to further thirsty skin’s insatiable need for soothing.

So what can you do? Incorporate a nourishing ultra-moisturising formula into your routine. Contrary to what you may believe, it is the texture of the cream and its ingredients that make all the difference rather than the amount that you coat onto your skin.

Stop dryness in its tracks by injecting your skincare with hydrating components. “If you have dry skin, you should be looking for an emollient moisturiser to lock in moisture”, reveals the dermatologist.

She also spotlights the following ingredients:

  • Ceramides - Naturally occurring in the skin, ceramides are part of the glue that holds the skin cells together – they keep moisture in and irritants out.
  • Glycerine - Glycerin, also known as glycerol, is a naturally occurring hydrator found in lipid form.
  • Hyaluronic Acid - Extra moisture can be achieved with the hydrating ingredient hyaluronic acid which can be found in many great hydrating serums that can be layered underneath your moisturiser.”
  • Squalene - Squalane is derived from squalene, a naturally derived oil present in many animals and plants and comprising 10-12 per cent of human skin oils. Squalane for skincare is often harvested from plant sources including olives, wheat germ and rice bran. In addition to its hydrating (yet non-comedogenic) effects, squalane also has antioxidant properties, making it a great ingredient choice.”

Dr Granite suggests avoiding “potentially irritating ingredients such as retinol and vitamin C. This is particularly about the area around the eyes that is known to be 10 times thinner than the rest of the skin of the face and is “more prone to skin barrier disruption and dryness” in the words of the derm. “If patches persist or develop into dermatitis, consider consulting with a dermatologist for prescription treatment”, she adds.

Beyond your beauty cabinet, there are lifestyle changes too that can affect dryness and flakiness. First and foremost, she recommends “drinking plenty of water to ensure optimum hydration and taking an omega-3 supplement to help support moisture levels.”

“Keep shower and bath water warm, but not too hot to prevent over-drying of the skin. I also like small desktop diffusers and/or humidifiers to add moisture back in the air, especially when central heating is on.”

Shop the best moisturisers for dry skin below

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream 100ml

Augustinus Bader

Every inch of The Rich Cream is a luxurious experience; from the packaging, to the bottle to the formula itself. One of the heroes in the Augustinus Bader collection, it is the embodiment of 30 years of research, combining anti-ageing benefits, while nourishing the complexion at the same time. As is clear from the name, this is a counterpart to the original and lighter The Cream with a more intense, thicker composition, but it remains an easily absorbed moisturiser that is gulped down greedily by parched skin without leaving a greasy finish.

The brand’s signature and proprietary TFC8 is at the heart and is a blend of natural amino acids, vitamins and synthesized molecules to enrich the skin with important nutrients to even out texture and firmness at the same time. This is combined with argan, avocado and evening primrose oil that are ultra moisturising and restorative with calming and soothing benefits. This cream can be used by all skin types, even those with acne-prone as it’s non-comedogenic and sensitive as it’s vegan and free from nasties like sulphates and silicone, for a healthy, dewy glow.

Two pumps of the product are all you need to layer onto the face, neck and decollete so a little goes a long way, making that initial layout seem far more palatable.

It is now available in a travel-friendly 100ml size.

Buy now£332, Augustinus Bader

Clinique Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator


It is with good reason that Clinique’s Moisture Surge collection has remained a cult buy for so long. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it - after all. The 100H does exactly what is says on the tin and immediately brings a wave of hydration to thirsty skin, leaving it glowing and plump in the process. This formula has been specifically designed for very dry skin types and is packed with conditioning favourites like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and even soothing aloe and radiance-boosting vitamin C.

In just a few uses, you will notice your skin looking and feeling far healthier where the hydration lasts throughout the day - hence the time frame indicated. It has a cream-gel texture that is soothing as you apply and is quickly absorbed into the skin, leaving it refreshed without a greasy or oily residue.

Buy now£42, Clinique

Tatcha The Water Cream


Japanese-born wellness label Tatcha has made a splash on UK shores with its Water Cream. In a short time, this moisturiser has established itself in our bathroom cabinet as a holy grail product. When your skin is feeling tight, flaky or irritated, this is what to reach for.

The second the cooling gel-cream texture meets the skin’s surface, it has an immediate conditioning and soothing effect. With the combination of the brand’s proprietary rice, algae and green tea complex to bring luminosity, Japanese wild rose for a smooth texture and leopard lily to control sebum, this is a pampering product you will relish using down to its last drop.

It absorbs instantly, leaving you ready for any other products that will follow. Makeup can also be applied with ease and no balling. It doesn’t feel greasy or cause breakouts but instead leaves skin soft and quenched.

Buy now£67, Space NK

Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Moisturiser

Paula’s Choice

Moisturisers for dry skin in the past were overly thick textures that were unpleasant to layer on the skin and laborious to rub in but Paula’s Choice is changing all that with a dry skin hero, no elbow grease required. In fact, despite that the formula contains plant oils, there is little oily residue at all.

The non-greasy product nourishes the complexion with hydrating ingredients like the above alongside antioxidants and anti-ageing peptides, making this an all-rounder in the skincare stakes. For very dry skin that’s tight and flaky, you will want to liberally apply this hyaluronic acid-enriched formula all over.

Buy now£34, Paula’s Choice

CeraVe Moisturising Cream


US drugstore label CeraVe is known for its no-frills, no-fuss product line-up that focuses on efficacious formulations developed by dermatologists - all while remaining purse-friendly on the price front.

The moisturising cream is another rich textured product and contains the three ceramides that can be found across the brand’s collection that work to protect the skin’s natural barrier. This may address that the causes of dryness, particularly if it’s environmental or the result of harsh ingredients.

There’s specialised MVE technology used that gives a slow release of the ingredient so as to boost hydration for longer. Hyaluronic acid is placed at the heart with no nasties to prevent irritation for sensitive skin types. A little goes a long way.

Buy now£17, Boots

Dr.Jart+ Ceramidin Complex


Our obsession with Korean Beauty shows no signs of wavering and that is in no small part due to Dr. Jart+ and the label’s skincare innovations. This is not your average moisturiser. While giving an instant treat to dry and dehydrated complexions, it also locks in the moisture so you can make the most of the benefits for longer. This is at the same time as strengthening the skin’s barrier and shielding against further moisture from becoming lost. The cream feels pampering as soon as it touches the skin and right away you will notice it becoming softer, smoother and plumper.

Buy now£13, FeelUnique

Weleda Skin Food Cream


Weleda’s Skin Food comes in both face and body formulations - and trust us, you’ll want one of both. The ultra-nourishing properties is why it’s never too far from beauty insider’s wash bags to be always on hand when the effects of central heating and the British winter feel their effect on your skin or conditions like rosacea flare up.

This bestselling product is created with just natural and organic ingredients and contains the likes of lanoilin, beeswax and glycerin for rich conditioning and sweet almond and sunflower oils for softening and boosting moisture levels. It also works to fortify the barrier to prevent further water loss. This is a very thick textured product and can be a little greasy so is best for overnight application to wake up with smooth and hydrated skin.

Buy now£14.95, Boots

La Roche-Posay Effaclar H Moisturising Cream

La Roche Posay

When you are tackling dry and sensitive skin, the options can feel very limited but with La Roche-Posay in your protective arsenal, you can be sure you are getting a product that won’t cause irritation and packs a punch too. It should also be on hand to follow harsh ingredients like retinol or scrubbing that can disturb the moisture balance.

The product is soothing from the get-go. It gets to work balancing the microbiome, soothing, hydrating for up to 48 hours and calming redness. It doesn’t feel overly thick and applies like a dream. You will also notice a minimising in the appearance of acne scars and marks.

Buy now£20, Boots

REN Clean Skincare - Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm


Gliding onto the skin, this product from REN has a unique balm-to-oil texture that should be applied as you doze for overnight absorption. It sinks into the skin and the texture isn’t overly greasy but feels luxurious to the most parched of complexions with the likes of olive, almond, borage and linseed oils contained within that encourages your skin’s own regeneration.

Buy now£45, Cult Beauty

Triple Hyaluronic Acid Deep Moisture Miracle Cream

Beauty Pie

You may think that a name of the ilk would set this product up for failure but it lives up to the high expectations and may just have you believing in miracles. This deeply hydrating moisturising cream is a water burst to the complexion that will be very welcomed in times of dryness and dehydration.

The hi-tech hero uses not one but three types of hyaluronic acid and combines it with fine line-filling powerhouses to plump while offering conditioning past just the skin’s surface. Make your skincare work harder for you and layer on makeup with ease thanks to the lightweight texture.

£90 for non-members, £22 for members.

Buy now£90, Beauty Pie

Kate Somerville HydraKate

Kate Somerville

If you’ve noticed an increase in breakouts or your complexion is looking duller than usual, it may be down to a lack of hydration. Give your skin a moisturising boost with this latest innovation from Kate Somerville.

The HydraKate collection is made up of a Water Cream and Recharging Serum that is designed to give skin the H2O hit that it needs - increasing hydration by 81 per cent in just 20 minutes with long-lasting effects over the course of the day.

The formula is made up of the brand’s AquaPort Hydration Technology that takes inspiration from the dermatologist’s in-clinic treatment and stimulates aquaporin in the skin for immediate plumping results. There’s also rosemary peptide complex to encourage natural recovery, marigold flower for elasticity, hydration hero hyaluronic acid and blue-light shielding algae extract.

Buy now£65, Kate Somerville

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF 30


The definition of a cult product, if you want pillowy plump and soft skin, incorporating Elemis’ cream into your routine should be your first order of business. This is one of Elemis’ bestselling products and has been so since the brand’s inception over 20 years ago - a testament both to its efficacy as well as its luxury feel.

The rich gel-cream texture expertly balances two opposing qualities, providing science-led formulations, while pampering your skin. It combines the likes of padina pavonica, chlorella and ginkgo biloba to minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as intensely hydrating ingredients that are a treat to thirsty complexions.

Buy now£94, Cult Beauty