We layer our skin with a coterie of serums, essences, and other elixirs, but if we truly want to maintain healthy skin – and lock in the benefits of these expensive products – we need to focus our attention towards the humble moisturiser.
As we move into the colder autumn/winter season, our choice of moisturiser becomes more important than ever. That said, not all moisturisers are created equal, so we caught up with Dr AJ Sturnham, a GP specialising in dermatology and Founder of skincare brand, Decree to find out how to pick the right moisturiser as we transition seasons.
From changing humidity levels and shifting temperatures – moving from the cold outdoors to indoors – seasonal changes can cause havoc on our complexions. We also have reduced levels of ceramides in the top layers of our skin in the colder months, which are important for keeping the skin barrier strong and protected.
“Regular application of a moisturiser can help to counteract these seasonal changes”, says Sturnham. “Think of your moisturiser as being a little bit like the clothes in your wardrobe. When it’s cold, you add a few more layers of clothing. [So] when it’s cold, apply a thicker moisturiser to seal and protect your hydration barriers.”
How do I choose the right moisturiser for my skin?
I recommend we all own both a light-textured and rich-textured moisturiser, so that you can select the product that suits your skin best on the day. Become your own skin expert, and adjust the type of product according to your skin’s needs.
Why should we moisturise both morning and night?
Skin hydration is key for healthy skin. Your moisturiser’s job is to keep the skin barriers strong, and this is a 24/7 job. Your morning moisturiser application will help to prevent moisture loss as you go about your day. Your evening application helps to restore skin barrier function. We know that moisture loss speeds up overnight, so the thicker moisturiser can help to counteract this.
What makes a good moisturiser and what key ingredients should we look out for?
A good moisturiser should contain a combination of humectant, emollient, and occlusive ingredients.
Humectants act as magnets for moisture. When applied to the skin, humectant molecules attract moisture from the environment and retain it inside the skin. My top picks are hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and polyglutamic acid.
Emollients fill the spaces between the skin cells in the top layer of the skin to make it feel smoother. My top picks are apricot kernel extract, jojoba, and squalane.
Occlusives focus more on preventing the skin from losing moisture by forming a protective film or layer over the epidermis. They do not increase the moisture levels of the skin, but can help to prevent moisture escaping. Occlusive ingredients include lanolin, cocoa butter, and jojoba oil.
What formulas work best for drier skin types?
Drier and sensitive skin types benefit from a richer-textured moisturiser. Look for a combination of humectant, emollient, and occlusive ingredients for extra moisture and barrier protection. Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, squalane, dimethicone, and ceramides are great ingredients to look for. If your skin is sensitive, choose a product that is fragrance free or avoids artificial fragrance and essential oils.
And what about oiler skin types?
Look for a light-textured cream or lotion if you have oily or spot-prone skin. You will want to choose a formula with ingredients that will hydrate without clogging: look for ‘non-comedogenic’ on the label.
Now that you know the nitty, gritty here are 10 moisturisers to consider adding to your arsenal…
From Dr Anita Sturnham’s product line, this silky formula contains a blend of peptides, squalane, and hyaluronic acid to hydrate, smooth, and restore skin. There is also a heavier iteration for days when skin needs a greater moisture hit. "Most people prefer a light-textured product in the morning, and a richer one at night, but on those days where your skin needs that extra boost, use the richer one morning and night," Sturnham suggests.
While the moisturiser’s main job is to deeply hydrate, and lock in your expensive serums, we love the additional benefits of boosted luminosity offered here. Dr Sebagh has quite a reputation for hard-hitting, anti-ageing products and this luxurious cream is no exception. It provides skin with an immediate post-facial worthy glow, is deeply hydrating to plump out fine lines and wrinkles, and dries to the perfect velvety base to enhance your make-up.
This moisturiser is packed with ceramides and six rare African oils (including vitamin C-rich baobab and rejuvenating Kalahari melon) to hydrate and brighten skin. Dispensed via a clever push-down button system – so you won't miss a drop – this decadent-feeling cream offers intense moisture in a whipped texture without even a whisper of grease.
This ultra-soothing cream is suitable for all skin types – especially those which are susceptible to irritation. It's infused with plant-derived squalane to deliver superlative hydration, and probiotics to calm and soothe the complexion. The gel texture is pleasingly refreshing upon application, and particularly mollifying if skin feels parched.
Regarded by many as the holy grail of skincare, this surprisingly lightweight formula delivers a tall order. It contains the brand’s TFC8 complex, a patented technology designed to deeply hydrate while combatting signs of ageing and protecting against environmental aggressors. Brimming with a cocktail of amino acids, antioxidants, and a blend of vitamins, it offers skin-smoothing, fine-line melting, bounce-restoring results. CF Top Tip: this moisturiser is deeply penetrating, so a little goes a long way.
This non-comedogenic gel-cream hybrid is a multitasking hero to add to your moisturiser wardrobe. Developed for oilier skin types, it absorbs quickly and controls shine, leaving skin mattified but never dull. The addition of niacinamide works wonders on enlarged pores, whilst willow-bark extract visibily smooths and brightens skin.
Putting their supermodel-approved make-up aside for a moment, Hourglass' skincare products are just as covetable. This new moisturiser is laced with squalene to deeply hydrate, niacinamide to mask fine lines and wrinkles, as well as a powerful combination of youth lipids to renew and restore the skin barrier. Lightweight and silky it works wonders when used both day and night.
Reach for this heavy-hitter when your skin feels particularly tight. Supercharged by ceramides, to smooth and strengthen the skin barrier, red algae to lock in moisture, plus antioxidant-rich pomegranate to protect against environmental aggressors, skin feels sufficiently quenched instantly. A true bathroom shelf MVP, expect a pillowy-soft, smooth complexion after use.
Incite a symphony of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from your friends with this intelligent new moisturiser-primer hybrid. If you are a fan of super indulgent skin rituals, this one is for you. The balm simply melts into skin, delivering a skin-blurring veil which makes skin glow, and imperfections appear diminished. Laced with nutrient-rich oils to plump and hydrate, as well as microalgae to protect against pollution, this is a must-have for city skin.
Sensitive skin will benefit from this French pharmacy classic. Ultra-affordable and super efficacious, it contains ceramides, glycerin, and vitamin B3. Let's not forget the addition of La Roche Posay's calming thermal water, to soothe skin while helping to reinforce the skin-barrier function.