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The best moisturisers around for dry skin

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If you have dry skin, the right moisturiser is a beauty must have. Without it, not only will the appearance of your skin suffer, it will start to feel tight and uncomfortable, even sore. Make-up becomes hard to apply and can appear patchy.

On a basic level, any moisturiser will be of some use as all work by supplying water to the skin, within a substance that holds that in. There are different ways a product can do this, however, and a host of ingredients that may be included for other benefits, such as protective antioxidants like Vitamin C and hydration boosters including hyaluronic acid. Key ingredients generally fall into one of three categories: humectants to attract water, occlusives to slow down its evaporation and emollients for lubrication.

You don’t need to become a cosmetic scientist but understanding a few ingredients and what they do can help when narrowing down options. Do you want a high-tech anti-ageing cream, a botanically based, natural formulation or something between the two? Is there anything you’re keen to have in a product or similarly want to avoid? 

Bear in mind that what works well in the summer months will probably need to be reconsidered in colder ones as our skin’s needs change. The following products are included for their qualities as intensive facial moisturisers or night creams. If you are using them as a day cream before going outdoors, be sure to apply an SPF additionally.

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Weleda Skin Food

An affordable, multi-purpose skin solution

NATRUE certified, cruelty-free formulation
Concentrated moisturising properties
Inexpensive enough to use for the body as well as face
Does contain lanolin

One tube of this is sold every 23 seconds and it is reported to be a favourite of celebrities including singer Adele and actress Julia Roberts. It is certainly affordable, which means you won’t begrudge using it for dry areas of the body like elbows and knees in addition to your face and the lightweight, recyclable tube is easy to travel with. It isn’t the easiest cream to rub in, due to a very concentrated formula. One tip is to warm it between your fingers to loosen the consistency before applying. The natural formulation has a fresh, citrusy scent and is based on a blend of plant oils, shea butter and beeswax, along with extracts of chamomile and calendula which have skin soothing and calming properties.

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Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream Ultra Rich Anti-Wrinkle Day Cream

A cult classic with anti-ageing benefits

Specifically targeted at anti-ageing
Scientific back up
Numerous antioxidants
Smaller amount of product

Launched in 2003 by luxury spa brand Elemis, Pro Collagen Marine Cream is an award winner that has since attracted a loyal following. This version is aimed especially at drier, dehydrated skins. It isn’t the cheapest option and although the box and pot are a similar size to 50ml products, this contains 30ml. You are advised to use a pea sized amount which we found plenty. The cream absorbed quickly and smells like a high-end product, as you’d expect, with numerous ingredients you will be unlikely to find in cheaper creams.

These include two forms of algae: Padina Pavonica, a brown, Mediterranean algae with water-attracting properties and Chlorella, a green algae, which is seen as improving skin elasticity. The company cite clinical trials backing an improvement in skin firmness and hydration within 15 days of regular use and we felt our skin did look more revitalised after a few days of applying it.

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Clarins Super Restorative Day Cream For Very Dry Skin

An intensive moisturiser and anti-ageing product in one

Aimed at mature skins
Contains shea and mango butters
Contains harungana extract for skin firmness
Contains Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

A cream targeted at more mature skins, this contains Hyaluronic acid. It has a pleasant, almost fruity smell and absorbed quickly, without leaving any greasiness. Our testers with sensitive skin didn’t report any reactions and it was rich enough for the driest skin. In terms of price you may want to use sparingly. The cream states a longer shelf life of 18 months compared to the other creams trialled which are recommended to be used within 12.

This does contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, considered a safe synthetic which has been used for many years but one which has caused controversy in sectors of the beauty industry and some consumers try to avoid.

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Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream

The queen bee of natural moisturisers

98.9% natural formulation
Box and pot representative of amount of product
No parabens, phthalates or petrolatum
Leaping bunny certified for cruelty free assurances

This naturally formulated night cream comes in a smaller box and glass pot than many 50ml creams while providing the same amount of product. It has a pleasant, sweet honey aroma, not surprisingly for the brand. We loved this but some may consider too sweet or want a fragrance-free version. However, if you’re looking for a natural, relatively inexpensive intensive cream, with assurances that no new animal testing has been involved at any stage of product development, this is a great option.

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Paula’s Choice Replenishing Moisturise for Dry and Very Dry Skin

A small tube with big benefits

Fragrance free
Contains Hyaluronic acids and peptides
Ingredients aimed at reducing redness
Small 60ml tube, ideal for travel but may not last very long

This felt really rich going on and being fragrance free, would be a good option for anyone who doesn’t like flowery, fragranced creams. It doesn’t feel greasy but did leave our testers’ faces feeling well moisturised for some time after use although you can apply make-up within a few minutes without it sliding off if used as a day cream. We loved the fact it is aimed at reducing redness and at rosacea sufferers with ingredients including Evening Primrose oil. The instructions make it clear that if used as a day cream this should be used in conjunction with an SPF which applies to any moisturiser not containing one.