A Guide to Moisturisers

A Guide To Moisturisers

Re-Branded Signature (Emma) copy

This instalment in our skincare series sees us looking at the third cornerstone of the skincare routine – moisturiser. Moisturiser is such a wonderfully versatile product. Its most basic function is to ‘feed’ the skin with active ingredients, botanical extracts and innovative complexes that are designed to improve its quality. Not only does it provide the skin with nutrients that it lacks, but it can also help to kick start mechanisms to help the skin to help itself, while also providing a barrier to keep unwanted things out.

The reason there are so many different moisturisers on the market is because the needs of our skin varies wildly from person to person. Where one person could need lots of oil-rich moisturiser to help soften their rough and dry skin, another blemish-prone person may prefer a lightweight, oil-free fluid. Then there’re skin types to take into account, and skin conditions such as dehydration or sensitivity. More than any other skincare category, I think moisturiser offers the most choice – and though this can be a very good thing, trying to determine the best one for you requires a bit more legwork.

Self diagnosing your skin type is notoriously tough, and it’s likely you’ll go through some trial and error before you find the right cocktail of products for you. Be flexible with your choices, pay attention to how your skin feels, and don’t be afraid to mix things up. Take a look below and see if any of the skin types listed sounds like you – we’ve got some beautiful moisturising suggestions for all…

Hydrating Moisturiser

A drink for dehydrated skin

What’s it all about? More a skin symptom than a skin type, dehydration can affect anyone – even those with really oily complexions. Water feeds the skin, making it look healthy, plump and radiant. When skin is dehydrated it can look thin and sallow, and is prone to fine dehydration lines and areas of congestion. Hydrating moisturisers aim to put the moisture back in with the use of ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and squalene rather than oils (remember, oily types get dehydrated, too!), which can hold many times their own weight in water to get essential moisture back into the skin.

Who is it best for? You’ll know you have dehydrated skin if it always seems to look tired. If you lead a hectic lifestyle, live in a city, smoke, drink, get little sleep, or don’t drink your recommended amount of water a day,  it’s safe to say there’s a good chance your skin is dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water and making small tweaks to your lifestyle can have a huge effect, clearing up small break outs, smoothing dehydration lines, and generally brightening and boosting the overall quality of your skin.

Ranges to try:

La Roche-Posay Hydraphase
If you’re not sure where to start, Hydraphase is ideal. It’s my most recommended collection of moisturiser for a reason; it cools, quenches and has an immediate effect on the look and feel of your skin.

Guerlain Super Aqua
My favourite high end hydrating range is Guerlain Super Aqua, which uses some seriously high tech innovation to not only plump the skin with water, but also purify the water to give you the freshest skin, ever.

Caudalie Vinosource
Vinosource is an impressively versatile collection offering the most choice per skin type for those with dehydrated skin, from pared-back textures for sensitive skin, to intensely rich formulas for chronically dry patches.

Compensating Moisturiser

Putting the goodness back into dry skin

What’s it all about? Chronically dry complexions are depleted of the essential lipids that make it soft, supple and smooth. The lack of oil (not to be confused with dehydrated skin, which is lacking in water), makes skin feel uncomfortable and itchy, with patches of roughness that become flaky over time.  Dry skin can be caused by all sorts of things, both internal and external: bad weather, too-hot showers, stripping products, eczema and the natural ageing process are just some of the causes.

Who is it best for?  Before you diagnose yourself as having dry skin, think about making a few changes to your routine. Cut out the hot showers and pare back your skincare routine, and this could cut out intermittent dryness. However, if you’ve had long-term dry skin or the external cause is unavoidable, like bad weather, an oil-rich moisturiser will soothe and restore some equilibrium. They provide fantastic relief if you find that your makeup doesn’t sit as well as it could because of rough and flaky patches, or your skin feels tight and sore.

Ranges to try: 

La Roche-Posay Nutritic
Created with innovative MP lipids, a new generation of lipids that encourage the synthesis of moisture and essential proteins, this range intensely comforts and restores calm.

Avene Rich Compensating Cream
A rich emollient cream that uses a wealth of plant-based active ingredients to replace lost lipids. Also available as the even more intensive Extremely Rich Compensating Cream.

L’Occitane Shea Butter 24Hr Ultra Rich Face Cream
Created with a huge 25% concentration of nourishing shea butter, this is the face cream with which to create a barrier against the elements. Rich, repairing and protecting.

Balancing Moisturiser

Keeping oily skin and blemishes in check

What’s it all about? Moisturising used to be a bit of a dirty word for those with imperfection-prone skin. Today’s oil-free, sensorial formulas are a different breed, though, boasting seriously advanced technology and fresh textures to make daily moisturising a lot more appealing. They not only absorb oil and keep it at bay during the day, but they will also get to work on reducing blemishes and pores to manage the problem long term.

Who is it best for? Everyone who struggles with long-term excess oiliness, enlarged pores and blemishes (not small, occasional break outs – I’ll recommend products for those separately below). Those with an oily skin type can actually have dehydrated skin at the same time; using oil-banishing cleansers and not rebalancing the complexion afterwards with moisturiser can really exacerbate the issue. Regular moisturising will address both the oiliness and the dehydration – and it makes excellent base for your make-up!

Ranges to try: 

La Roche-Posay Effaclar
This range is a bona fide bloggers’ favourite, citing the famous Effaclar Duo +, Effaclar H and Effaclar K in its oil-busting ranks. It’s a must-discover if you struggle with any type of blemish-prone skin.

Bioderma Sebium
This range includes a fantastic mix of moisturising and matifying products created especially for oily skin, ensuring tailored care for your complexion.

Vichy Normaderm
Another blogger favourite, this range is created especially to suit all ages, not just teenaged skin. There’s even an anti-ageing product in the collection!

Anti-Ageing Moisturiser

Plumping, smoothing and filling care for mature skin

What’s it all about? The anti-ageing skincare category is pretty huge; not only because slowing down the ageing process of the skin is something many women feel strongly about, but because there are lots of different ‘symptoms’ of ageing, each with their own compendium of products. Don’t let that put you off exploring the category, though. Focus on the area that you’d like to target –  such as a lack of firmness, or deep set wrinkles – and seek out products whose raison d’etre is tackling that problem. Fancy a little bit of everything? Look for products that aim to tackle ‘global ageing’.

Who is it best for? Unlike other categories of moisturiser, some anti-ageing products come with an age recommendation. In a very broad sense, anyone can use the formulas – try to hold off if you’re under 30, though. Early fine lines and uneven skintone are often misdiagnosed as advanced ageing but can actually be attributed to lifestyle choices, such as a lack of water and too much sun exposure. Switch to hydrating products and wear a sunscreen daily, and you should start to see a difference.

Ranges to try: 

Vichy Liftactiv
Vichy’s much-lauded LiftActiv range performs a global action on all signs of ageing, from wrinkles to a loss of firmness. It’s a fantastic all-rounder with a gorgeous texture.

Clarins Vital Light
This plant-powered collection of moisturisers for day and night deeply revive mature skin, getting to work on hyperpigmentation and a loss of radiance as well as lines and firmness.

Dior Capture Totale
This premium anti-ageing range is abundant with smoothing, illuminating and firming products for all stages of ageing – there’s even a matching foundation.

Perfecting Moisturiser

Brightening power for uneven and dull skin

What’s it all about? There’s a new(ish) league of moisturisers that are all about smoothing, evening and perfecting, without the anti-ageing angle. Perfect for city dwellers and those with a hectic lifestyle, perfecting (often called radiance enhancing) moisturisers are all about creating ‘ideal skin’, reversing and concealing the pigmentation, dark circles and unevenness caused by pollution, disrupted sleeping patterns and neglected sun protection.

Who is it best for? Tired skin that needs a jump start. As it’s a concern rather than a skin type, perfecting moisturisers are often available in both rich and lighter versions to suit both dry and combination/oily skin. If your lacklustre complexion needs an overall boost, these multitasking formulas are just the ticket.

Ranges to try:

Vichy Idealia
Designed to transform the look and feel of skin, Idealia is something of a wonder range. After using the whipped, tea-scented cream, skin becomes is bright, even and so very smooth.

Caudalie Vinoperfect
Vinoperfect is a more intensive brightening collection, utilising vitamin C to even pigmentation and brighten the skin. Skin looks fresh and luminous.

Nuxe Creme Prodigieuse
Creme Prodigieuse is something of a wake up call for tired skin, smoothing features and giving it a great big boost of antioxidants to ensure a rested look.


Calming Moisturiser

Special care for reactive skin

What’s it all about? If you really have to think about what you put on your skin for fear of sensitivity and adverse reactions, then you need a pared-back and effective moisturiser that will provide the care that you need without any unnecessary extras. There are plenty of them available on the market, often with years of pharmaceutical research to back up their impressive claims.

Who is it best for? Anyone with weakened, overheated and irritated skin. If you find that moisturisers are generally uncomfortable to wear or cause your skin to react, then it’ll love these sensitive skin optimised formulas.

Ranges to try:

La Roche-Posay Toleriane
Toleriane is all about pared-back formulas, hygienic, air-tight packaging and soothing ingredients, making sure that skin is properly cared for with minimum impact on its delicate balance.

Bioderma Sensibio
When skin is weak and tight, it needs appropriately soothing textures. Sensibio’s formulas soothe, purify and provide lasting moisture.

Avene Tolerance Extreme
If you have allergy-prone skin, this is the range for you. It calms and makes skin feel fresh, and best of all, its manufactured in an entirely sterile environment.

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  • Hi Emma,
    Really enjoying the series, great to hear an informed and refreshingly no nonsense voice on skin health and product types!
    N x