The best moisturiser for every skin type and budget

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  • Moisturiser may sound pretty self-explanatory in a world where terms like hyaluronic acid and ascorbic acid are thrown around a lot. But, ask yourself: how many times have you handed down the death sentence to a tub of face cream because it’s made your skin feel sweaty/itchy/not hydrated enough (delete where appropriate). The thing is, it’s impossible to find the best moisturiser for your skin if you don’t know what you’re working with.

    ‘Knowing your skin type is the first step,’ says consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. ‘A one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work as dry, sensitive and oily skins all have different needs.’

    How To Work Out Your Skin Type

    If you’re unsure, there are a few tests you can do yourself. Plus each skin type has its own unique hallmarks to look out for.

    Dry skin, for example, lacks oil because it produces less sebum than normal skin. It can feel uncomfortable, flaky and itchy, especially near the eyebrows and around the corners of the nose and mouth.

    ‘Rub gently on one area of skin,’ says Georgia Louise, facialist to Jennifer Aniston. ‘If you see loose skin cells in the form of flakes, or your face quickly turns red and becomes inflamed, then you definitely have dry skin.’

    If you’re a little too blessed in the sebum department, have enlarged pores and are prone to blemishes, you most likely have oily skin.

    But another check you can do is with a large tissue. Simply wash your face, dry it with a towel and leave it completely unmoisturised for at least one hour. Take the tissue, cover your face with it and blot.

    If the tissue is greasy and your face looks shiny, you have oily skin. You have combination skin if you’re left with oil on the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) while your cheeks remain dry.

    Sensitive skin is probably the most overused description for skin that’s normally dealing with irritation that we, not the skin gods, have caused.

    ‘Often flare ups are the result of product overload or the wrong mixture of ingredients,’ says skin expert Debbie Thomas. ‘Microscopic cracks appear in the skin that enable toxins and irritants to seep in and cause problems.’

    You’ll find out pretty quickly if you have sensitive skin if it turns fire-engine red when you brush  your fingers across the side of your face.

    Find The Best Moisturiser For Your Skin Type Here

    Now that you know your true skin type, you can start shopping for a moisturiser that you’ll want to savour to the last drop.

    Best Moisturiser For Dry Skin

    Just because you have dry skin doesn’t mean you should automatically slather on creamy, unctuous products.

    Over-moisturising the surface sends a signal that your skin has enough water, lipids and protein. It then starts to produce less hydration and nutrients of its own. The result? Skin gets lazy and we get trapped in a vicious cycle of applying even richer creams.

    Those with dry skin should look for moisturisers containing ingredients that prevent water loss.

    Hyaluronic acid blows most ingredients out of the water for hydration as a single gram can hold up to six litres of water.

    Other ingredients that are a formidable opponent for dry skin include antioxidants and emollients like glycerin.

    ‘I’m a huge fan of the antioxidant purslane, which also happens to be one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It reduces inflammation and repairs the skin’s moisture barrier,’ says world-renowned aesthetic doctor, Dr Barbara Sturm.

    Dr Barbara Sturm Face Cream Rich, £145, Cult Beauty


    best moisturiser, Dr Barbara Sturm Face Cream Rich, £145, Cult Beauty

    Here you’ll find purslane and glycerin, alongside skin-nourishing shea butter, avocado and olive fruit oils to top up scaly skin’s hydration levels.

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    Best Moisturiser For Oily Skin

    Oily skin can still become dehydrated. Especially if you are also using spot-zapping products, which typically tend to be drying.

    The right moisturiser can trick your skin into thinking its sebum levels are balanced. This is important if you want to avoid a breeding ground for acne bacteria.

    Just remember to stick to oil-free formulas and steer clear of products containing mineral oil. ‘It’s basically like putting petroleum on your face,’ says Sturm. ‘Mineral oil keeps your pores large, and it actually takes hydration out of your skin.’

    Dewy gel moisturisers are a good option as they are lightweight and water-based.

    They work a bit like this: ‘Water transports other actives in the product so they penetrate the skin better. The gel then traps the water so that it doesn’t evaporate at room temperature,’ says Benedicte Le Bris, GM of research and development at L’Occitane.

    ‘Another benefit of gel moisturisers is they won’t block pores. They are free from the fatty ingredients that normally make moisturisers creamy.’ So your face never feels congested and greasy.

    L’Occitane Aqua Reotier Ultra Thirsy-Quenching Gel, £29.50

    best moisturiser, L’Occitane Aqua Reotier Ultra Thirsy-Quenching Gel, £29.50

    Calcium-rich mineral water, which controls sebum, joins forces with hyaluronic acid and glycerin for moisture with zero shine. Apply with abandon as this gel is practically weightless.

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    Note: the best moisturisers for combination skin actually involve multi-moisturising. In other words, using creams for dry skin on the cheeks and a gel moisturiser on the T-Zone only.

    Best Moisturiser For Sensitive Skin

    If your skin is sensitive you’re probably already aware that certain ingredients cause inflammation. You’ll have some idea of what triggers your skin, but it may be best to avoid creams that contain alcohol, essential oils or fragrance.

    ‘Most skin types experience sensitivity at some point,’ says Thomas. ‘If skin is exposed to changes in weather and allergens such as dust it can read them as the enemy. It fights them off by producing inflammatory hormones.’

    La Roche Posay Toleriane Ultra Crème, £18.50, Lookfantastic

    best moisturiser

    Riled skin will immediately benefit from the combination of soothing spring water, hydrating glyerin and neurosensine, a peptide that can block pain sensations and make your face feel immediately more comfortable.

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