Upgrade your daily grooming regimen with the best moisturisers for all skin types
Moisturisers are a bit like pizzas; you don’t necessarily need them in your life but your life will be greatly enriched if they’re part of it. Unlike pizzas, however, moisturisers can only make you look better. Despite what you may think, they’re a lot less greasy too.
Not only do moisturisers prevent skin from drying out (a big concern in today’s centrally heated, air-conditioned world) they also help bolster the skin’s naturally protective lipid barrier (something that everything from pollution to daily cleansing can compromise) and, since dry skin tends to age faster, they can help slow the ageing process too. On a very basic level, though, they help keep skin looking and feeling healthy. Moisturise daily and you’ll avoid dryness, tightness, flakiness and itchiness and will future proof it for middle age and beyond.
Most moisturisers contain humectants – substances, like glycerin and hyaluronic acid which attract water, helping skin retain the moisture it already has. These effects tend to last for only six-to-eight hours, though, which is why you generally need to reapply for round-the-clock hydration.
For maximum performance you also need to choose the right moisturiser for your skin – which is where our carefully selected edit comes in. Whittled down from the myriad of moisturisers available to men, we’ve selected eight hydrators that offer something for every skin type and every wallet size – from value-for-money remedies for dry, oily and tired-looking to top-end anti-ageing heroes. Ultimate aim? Skin you can feel comfortable in.
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How to choose the best moisturiser for you
How do I choose the right moisturiser for my skin type?
As a rule of thumb, the drier the skin the richer the moisturiser it can take.
If skin is easily irritated opt for moisturisers that are lighter in texture or are flagged as being designed for sensitive skin (they often omit potential irritants and contain skin-calming ingredients).
Do I still need a moisturiser if I have oily skin?
Yes. Oil and water aren’t different things, remember, and even the greasiest of skins can still be dehydrated. Look out for moisturisers labelled ‘oil-free’ or ‘oil-control’ – these are designed to add moisture without adding any more oil and often contain ingredients that absorb excess, leaving skin with a shine free, matt finish.
How often do I need to apply a moisturiser?
Ideally, at least twice a day – once in the morning after washing or after shaving and once again at night, preferably just before bed, though reapply in the afternoon if skin begins to feel dry and tight. If you use a face serum apply your moisturiser after it and always moisturise after using a face scrub or face mask.
The night-time application is possibly the most important since trans epidermal water loss (i.e. water exiting your skin) tends to be greater at night, leaving skin in desperate need of extra hydration. Night-time is also the time when lotions and potions are better absorbed so it’s when those anti-ageing, antioxidant packed moisturisers can do the most good.
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What key ingredients should I look out for?
We’ve already mentioned moisturising essentials like glycerin and hyaluronic acid (which draws moisture to the skin and keeps it there) but other ingredients to look out for include: Vitamin C (which is great for brightening skin and reducing the signs of ageing); ceramides (which help bolster the skin’s natural barrier) and caffeine, which energises tired-looking skin.
Niacinamide aka vitamin B3, meanwhile, is a wonder ingredient that’s good for everything from improving skin’s texture and helping regulate oil production to maintaining moisture levels and correcting uneven pigmentation.
Do I need one with a built-in sunscreen?
In the future, I suspect all moisturisers will include a sunscreen as standard – well, those meant for the daytime anyway. Buying a moisturiser with a built-in SPF is a bit like paying that bit extra to be fully covered.
Given that even small amounts of UV exposure – even in winter – can contribute to sun-induced wrinkles and age spots it’s certainly a good insurance policy against premature ageing. Look for moisturisers with an SPF of at least 15 and ones offering ‘broad spectrum’ protection against both the sun’s burning UVB rays and its ageing UVA ones. Needless to say, you don’t need to apply these particular moisturisers at night – no man ever suffered from moonburn.
How much should I spend on a men’s moisturiser?
The correct answer, of course, is as much as you like but it’s worth remembering that budget moisturisers often do just as good a job as super expensive ones. Additional cost is usually associated with additional ingredients and functionality, so expect to shell out a little bit more for anti-ageing moisturisers, ones with antioxidants like vitamin c or ones packing protective sunscreens.
How we test men’s moisturisers
To get an accurate test of each moisturiser’s performance we use a similar amount of each (a blob around the size of a £1 coin) and apply it with fingers, twice a day – once after cleansing in the morning and again after cleansing just before bed. Each moisturiser is tested on combination skin to see how it worked on both dry and slightly oily skin.
Smell and texture are important but so is how quickly each cream is absorbed (we’re too busy to be waiting more than a minute or so) and the type of finish it leaves on skin (no-one wants a moisturiser that makes skin look greasy).
We also assess each moisturiser based on price, ingredients and size. Ultimately, what matters most was how each moisturiser makes skin feel after application. If it leaves skin feeling tight, it won’t make the grade.
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The best moisturisers for men you can buy in 2023
1. L’Oréal Men Expert Hydra Energetic 24hr Anti-Fatigue SPF15 Moisturiser: Best for tired looking skin
Price when reviewed: £9.99for 50ml | Check price at AmazonA superb, all-round moisturiser, this pimped up version of L’Oréal Men Expert’s Hydra Energetic 24hr Anti-Fatigue Moisturiser takes a truly 360 approach to skin protection. It offers sustained hydration through the day, is formulated with skin brightening vitamin c, guards against pollution, features energising guarana and – deep breath – also features a broad-spectrum SPF 15 sunscreen.
The texture is great, it doesn’t leave a white residue on the skin and has a pleasant smell too. Think of it as the Swiss Army Knife of men’s moisturisers.
2. Bulldog Original Moisturiser: Best budget buy
Price when reviewed: £6.60 for 100ml | Check price at AmazonProof that face savers don’t have to cost the e arth, Bulldog’s best-selling Original Moisturiser is a value-for-money essential that’s worthy of a place in any man’s grooming repertoire.
Lightweight, non-greasy and quickly absorbed, it has a great but unobtrusive ‘botanical’ smell (think aromatic herbs) and is infused with skin-soothing aloe vera extract, antioxidant green tea and camelina oil, which is both hydrating and anti-inflammatory. As a bonus – a big bonus – it’s cruelty-free, vegan-friendly and carbon neutral. As an everyday, non-nonsense skin hydrator, that’s suitable for pretty much all skin types, we couldn’t really fault it.
3. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream: Best for dry or very dry skin
Price when reviewed: £19 for 454g | Check price at AmazonA brand loved by skincare experts and bargain hunters alike, CeraVe are masters of offering high quality skincare solutions at affordable prices. Developed by dermatologists, this moisturiser for dry and very dry skin is super-gentle, fragrance-free and is designed to deliver 24-hour hydration (thanks to time-release technology) and strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, thanks to a mix of hyaluronic acid and three ceramides – naturally occurring lipids found in the skin.
Perfect for sensitive, eczema-prone skin, there’s a stripped back, no-fuss, does-what-is-says-on-the-tin quality to it we really loved. Given the whopping size of the tub it’s superb value-for-money and can be used on the body too.
4. Heath Oil Control Moisturiser: Best for oily, spot-prone skin
Price when reviewed: £15 for 100ml | Check price at Boots It’s a myth that oily skin doesn’t need moisturising. In fact, moisturisers can positively benefit guys with oilier skin as long as they’re formulated for it, because they can help mop up excess grease and leave skin with a matt, rather than a shiny, finish.
This vegan-friendly one, from British skincare brand Heath, not only contains tapioca starch to mop up excess oil, but also features lemon myrtle to help reduce oil production and salicylic acid – an ingredient often used in spot treatments – to help keep pores clear of debris, thus minimising the risk of zits. The pump dispenser is a nice touch too as it minimises the risk of using too much product.
5. Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer: Best moisturiser for men over 40
Price when reviewed: £106 for 50ml | Check price at Amazon A premium anti-ageing moisturiser from acclaimed American dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, this super silky, lightweight moisturiser is designed to tackle the most obvious signs of ageing, making it the perfect products for more mature skins.
Antioxidant Ferulic acid helps counteract skin ageing free radicals caused by stress and pollution, Retinol smooths wrinkles and boosts collagen production to help minimise sagging, while gallic acid tackles hyperpigmentation and age spots.
It’s not the cheapest moisturiser on the market, for sure, but it has one of the best textures of all the creams we tried, has a pleasant, slightly orangey smell and in terms of turning back time gets full marks for trying.
6. Le Labo Face Lotion: Best cult moisturiser
Price when reviewed: £37 for 60ml | Check price at John LewisIf you’re into cult grooming gear and status skincare (and we’re not judging because we’re partial to a cult brand ourselves) this Face Lotion from New York based apothecary Le Labo is the moisturiser for you. Loved by skincare snobs, this lightweight, plant-based lotion’s strength lies in its simplicity: it’s based around old fashioned, nourishing shea butter along with glycerin and ginger root to condition skin.
Given Le Labo’s expertise in fine fragrances, it’s no surprise it smells good (there are notes of lavender, violet and tonka bean in there) but the scent’s not obtrusive so won’t clash with any other fragrance you’re wearing. One to make both your skin and your bathroom shelf look good.
7. LifeJacket Daily Protection SPF30 Moisturiser: Best daily SPF moisturiser
Price when reviewed: £13 for 100ml | Check price at BootsCreated by three guys who wanted to reduce the number of men experiencing skin cancers, LifeJacket has become the go-to brand when it comes to protective skincare for men. As well as producing top notch suncreens, the company also has this daily SPF30 moisturiser in its line-up.
Lightweight, non-greasy and fragrance-free, its broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against UV induced ageing too, and it’s reef-friendly, so won’t damage sea life if you swim with it on. It’s suitable for sensitive skins and is superb value given it comes in a 100ml tube. Wear all year round for optimal protection.
8. Grüum pür Gentle Moisturiser: Best for sensitive skin
Price when reviewed: £8 for 50ml | Check price at Gruu
The secret of selecting the right moisturiser for sensitive skin is to remember that less is more. If you’re prone to irritation think less fragrance, less colourants, less… well, less of everything really.
That’s why this stripped back moisturiser from Grüum is great for sensitive souls. Hypoallergenic, made from 96% naturally derived ingredients and fragrance-free, it’s been specifically formulated for easily irritated skins, while the addition of soothing chamomile helps calm redness. We loved the simplicity of it, the fact that it was fragrance free and the cool packaging too. Proof that, sometimes, the simpler a product, the better it is too.