Fresh faced: The best moisturisers and face creams for women (that actually work)

Zoe Dickens

19 April 2021

Fill your bathroom cabinet with powerful products that are worth the investment

19 April 2021 | Zoe Dickens

All products featured on our website have been impartially chosen by our editors. If you purchase something, we may earn an affiliate commission.

W

hether it’s repairing the effects of trying winter weather, combatting summer’s UV rays or hydrating naturally dry skin, a great face cream or moisturiser should be a skincare basic for everyone (yes, men, we’re looking at you too).

But different concerns call for different formulations and, while we’d never swap our options for the somewhat limited men’s lines, more choice doesn’t necessarily make it easier for women to, well, choose. If the sci-fi sounding ingredients and beauty jargon have left you more than a little mystified, allow us to cut through the marketing fluff with our guide to the best women’s face creams and moisturisers for every skin type and concern.

Best all-rounder: Dr Sebagh Supreme Day Cream

Don’t have any specific issues to address but looking to keep your skin in tip top condition? Firstly, lucky you. Secondly, meet Dr Sebagh’s brilliant Supreme Day Cream. This jack-of-all-trades moisturiser is blended with antioxidants and botanicals to keep skin hydrated and seal in moisture while also containing light reflecting pigments to maintain radiancy. It also promises to protect against daily irritants, such as pollution, free radicals, LED lights and UV rays, making it a brilliant option for those who can’t afford to spend hours slathering on layers and layers of cream every morning.

Dr Sebagh Supreme Day Cream, £145, drsebagh.com

Best moisturiser for dry skin: Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream

For those with chronically dry skin, moisturising can often feel like a losing battle that leaves you endlessly applying face cream only for skin to return to its tight, rough state within hours. The key here, as with most things in life, is quality not quantity. It doesn’t matter how much cream you apply if it just sits on the surface without getting into the skin’s deeper layers. Luckily there’s a whole genre of ‘rich’ creams designed to do just that – and our pick of the bunch comes from Augustinus Bader. A Hollywood favourite among stars including Diane Kruger and Dakota Johnson, it contains the brand’s TFC8 complex, a patented technology designed to deeply hydrate while combatting signs of aging and protecting against environmental aggressors.

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream, £205, net-a-porter.com

Best moisturiser for oily skin: Thalgo Perfect Matte Fluid

If you struggle with the excess shine that is a common side effect of oily skin, investing in a daily moisturiser that works to keep it under control can produce far better results than layering on mattifying foundations and powders. Thalgo’s Perfect Matte Fluid contains Acti-Sébum, an ingredient that simultaneously works to regulate the production of excess sebum while also neutralising its shine effect, promising a 32 per cent reduction in shine in just 30 minutes. Also containing pumpkin seed and fruit extracts, this is also a great general moisturiser which will even the skin’s texture and minimise pores.

Thalgo Perfect Matte Fluid, £26.50, feelunique.com

Best anti-aging face cream: Medik8 r-Retinoate Youth Activating Cream

The slick monochrome packaging of this cream may look a little intimidating but, trust us, this is as close as you’re going to get to replicating the work of your favourite facialist at home. Accordingly, there’s a lot of science behind this one. Built on a base of fast-absorbing hyaluronic acid, Medik8’s Youth Activating Cream blends retinyl retinoate (a next-gen retinol designed to combat aging without risking irritation) with retinaldehyde (a vitamin A derivative that exfoliates and promotes skin cell turnover) to produce one seriously powerful product. Medik8 has also packed in some ceramides and copper peptides for good measure, while removing parabens, artificial fragrances and alcohol, to deliver a cream which reduces fine lines, firms skin and effectively rejuvenates and moisturises.

Medik8 r-Retinoate Youth Activating Cream, £210, lookfantastic.com

Best vegan moisturiser: Aesop Perfect Facial Hydrating Cream

If sustainability and ethical supply chains are high on your list of priorities when it comes to skincare, the scientific ingredients lists don’t often make it easy to deduce exactly what is in each product and where it came from. As part of its ongoing commitment to minimising its impact on the planet, Selfridges now stocks a range of face creams and moisturisers clearly marked under its Project Earth initiative. Split into vegan, forest friendly, cruelty free and waste reducing categories (with many falling under more than one), the list is encouragingly long and includes brands such as Pai Skincare, The Ordinary and Ren.

When it comes to vegan moisturisers, however, no-one offers a range quite as extensive as Aesop and our pick of the plant-based pack is the Perfect Facial Hydrating Cream. Infused with antioxidant vitamins C and E, as well as refreshing botanical butters and seed oils, it works particularly well for normal and dry skin types, with a matte finish that serves as a great base for make-up.

Aesop Perfect Facial Hydrating Cream, £85, selfridges.com

Best SPF moisturiser: Shiseido Essential Energy Moisturising Day Emulsion

It may seem extreme but most beauty professionals will tell you that if a room is light enough to read a book without a light on, you should be wearing SPF. Thankfully the growing trend for SPF moisturisers means you can satisfy your needs for hydration and UV protection in one fell swoop.

There are some brilliant options on the market but for suncare backed up with some serious skin science, Shiseido’s Essential Energy Moisturising Day Emulsion is hard to beat. Its SPF20 rating is enough to protect against all but the most extreme day-to-day sun exposure. It also contains the brand’s ReNeura Technology, which stimulates the skin’s sensory receptors to optimise its reaction to ingredients including hyaluronic acid, white scutellaria root and pearl extract.

Shiseido Essential Energy Moisturising Day Emulsion, £62, harveynichols.com

Best night cream: Clé de Peau Beauté Intensive Fortifying Cream

Japanese skincare brand Clé de Peau Beauté grounds all its products in the results of its very impressive scientific research, the most important of which is Skin Intelligence: the discovery of the skin's ability to distinguish between good and bad stimuli and react accordingly. Designed for overnight use, the brand’s Intensive Fortifying Cream marries this technology with its Skin-Empowering Illuminator, a patented ingredient developed to boost the skin’s natural power to repair and defend. The result? Fresh, dewy and supple skin every single morning.

Clé de Peau Beauté Intensive Fortifying Cream, £130, harrods.com

Read more: The beauty tech and tools bringing the spa home