Repair, nourish and bring back that glow with our top picks of the best face creams for dry skin
Living with dry facial skin can be a frustrating experience. Whether a result of environmental factors or genetics, having tight, flakey skin can result in all manner of issues. It’s even worse for those who, along with dryness, suffer sensitive skin as well. In such cases, your dry skin could become irritated and painful. Thankfully, there are ways to combat the torment that is dry skin – and facial cream is the best.
At this point, it should be common knowledge that no matter your skin type, a moisturiser is a must in your daily skincare routine. And those with dry skin should be using a formula that’s specifically targeted for their skin type. Use a facial cream for parched, crepey skin and it can work wonders for administering the right level of moisture to reduce, or even eliminate, dry skin concerns.
So, whether you’re looking for a single pot of goodness, separate creams for day and night, a heavy-duty formula or something simple for your sensitive skin, our pick of the best face creams for dry skin will deliver benefits in the form of soft and supple skin and a healthy glow. But first, check out our guide on how to pick the right dry skin facial cream for you.
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How to choose the best face cream for dry skin for you
Before buying a cream for your dry skin, it’s important to consider some factors. Pay attention to triggers that may cause your skin to dry out, or cause already dry skin to become irritated.
What causes dry skin on the face?
There are a number of factors that can cause the skin on your face to feel dry:
Temperature fluctuations – Who doesn’t experience particularly dry skin in the winter? Cold, harsh winds or scalding hot showers can affect your face’s natural moisture levels, causing it to dry out.
Age – As we grow older, our skin produces less in the way of natural oils, while cell renewal reduces, too. This means that skin doesn’t hydrate as well on its own, leading to dry skin.
Dehydration – When you consider that the average UK resident drinks only 53% of the amount of water their body needs daily, it’s likely that the dry skin on your face could quite simply be the result of poor hydration. Time to grab yourself a large glass of water before you read on, perhaps?
Health factors – For some people, finding the right cream for them might involve having to chat with their doctor. If you have a skin condition such as eczema, suffer diabetes, or are affected by certain medications, your doctor will be able to recommend the best steps forward for treating your dry skin.
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What features should I look for in a good dry skin facial cream?
To ensure you pick up the right product to help improve your dry skin, consider the features below:
Hypoallergenic – This means the product includes as few ingredients as possible that are likely to irritate your dry skin.
Fragrance-free – An item labelled “fragrance-free” is neither perfumed nor has had any scents added to the formula. Also look for “botanical-free”, since some natural ingredients can also prove irritating to some skin types.
Non-comedogenic – The product contains ingredients that won’t clog pores or cause breakouts.
Humectants – This type of ingredient hydrates skin by pulling water from the air, or from the lower layers of your skin. Look for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, urea and sorbitol.
Occlusives – Ingredients such as petrolatum, lanolin and mineral oil are known as occlusives. They create a protective barrier over your skin that prevents moisture from escaping.
Emollients – These help to repair your skin by filling gaps between the cells of your skin. Specifically, ceramides are a type of emollient, either animal or plant fats that can help improve the natural fats in your own skin. Look for ingredients such as shea butter, aloe vera and coconut oil.
How we test face cream for dry skin
At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete information about a product. Testing each product on dry skin types, we apply the product for an appropriate amount of time, monitoring any changes to skin quality and noting which ingredients give the best results. Where facial creams are recommended for a specific use case – daytime or night-time, for example – we test them under those settings to ensure we make an accurate recommendation.
Following any instructions carefully, we assess the overall quality of the cream, the feel on the skin immediately following each use, as well as considering the long-term results with regular use. We also note the amount of each product supplied, and how well it lasts with regular use.
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The only thing more frustrating than dry skin is sensitive dry skin that results in pain and irritation. This cream from First Aid Beauty is safe for sensitive skin types and helpful to those with eczema, psoriasis and more. It immediately calms irritated and itchy skin, with ingredients that both soothe and hydrate, including shea butter, eucalyptus and ceramides. It also features antioxidants to protect against damage.
One key ingredient is colloidal oatmeal, which is a skin protectant that can help relieve itching and minor irritation. The Ultra Repair Cream is free of parabens, colourants and harsh chemicals, and is even dermatologist tested. Some people experience an immediate increase in skin hydration of up to two times. The formula is rich, but it absorbs quickly for convenience – and it’s both vegan and gluten-free.
Key specs – Size: 56.7g; Type: Tube
2. CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF25: Best daytime face cream for dry skin
Price: £15 | Buy now from Boots
CeraVe is a popular brand among people who experience skin issues since the products are developed alongside dermatologists. This lotion for daytime use comes with SPF25 broad spectrum protection, guarding delicate skin from the harmful rays of the sun. The formula is non-comedogenic, too, so it won’t clog pores, causing breakouts. For dry skin, in particular, the power to heal comes by way of three essential ceramides that help repair skin.
CeraVe’s secret weapon is Multivesicular Emulsion technology, which delivers moisture consistently over time instead of all at once. These multiple stages of moisture release ensure your skin is kept consistently hydrated for as long as 24 hours. As well as helping to protect your skin’s barrier, this moisture boost replenishes your skin’s natural ceramides, too. Containing hyaluronic acid, which helps draw moisture to your skin, with daily use you’ll see softer and healthier skin.
Key specs – Size: 52ml; Type: Tube
3. Eucerin Dry Skin Replenishing Face Cream: Best overnight face cream for dry skin
Price: £11 | Buy now from Look Fantastic
Much like CeraVe, Eucerin is well known for being a dermatologist-recommended brand for those with skin issues. Colourant- and fragrance-free, this cream is non-comedogenic, too. Designed for overnight use, it helps to combat tightness through its two main ingredients: urea and lactate. Naturally occurring in the skin, both humectants bolster what’s already in your skin, instantly hydrating your skin by binding moisture.
In clinical studies, participants saw significant improvements for both facial dryness and tightness. Redness, flaking and itching was also reduced. By the end of a week of use, there was a significant increase in moisturise and a significant decline in skin roughness. The quality of the skin’s barrier also saw improvement, with less water loss through the skin.
Overall, this is an excellent overnight moisturiser for a dose of intense hydration.
Key specs – Size: 50ml; Type: Tube
4. Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream: Best deep-hydrating face cream for dry skin
Price: £37 | Buy now from John Lewis
For anyone who needs that extra burst of hydration, this cream is the perfect choice. It’s been a bestseller for the Fresh brand for several years now, and is great for use both morning and night. While the formula is paraben- and sulphate-free, with less risk of causing skin irritation, the ingredients do include rose extract, which could exacerbate dry skin if you’re sensitive to florals.
The formula includes a duo of high- and low-molecular weight hyaluronic acids to provide deep hydration to your skin. The Damask rose extract reinforces the skin’s barrier, preventing moisture loss, while rosewater calms and soothes; the time-release technology delivers hydration for as long as 72 hours. Promising a variety of benefits, including softening, strengthening and smoothing, this is a superb product for keeping the skin on your face looking hydrated and plump.
Key specs – Size: 50ml; Type: Pot
5. Clinique Moisture Surge Intense 72H Lipid-Refreshing Hydrator: Best dry skin face cream with long-lasting effects
Price: £34 | Buy now from John Lewis
Clinique is a longstanding and respected name in the world of beauty and skincare, so it’s no surprise that the company’s product range includes a lusciously thick hydrating cream for dry skin. Recommended for use morning and night, this multi-use product can be used under makeup, as a spot treatment or even as a five-minute mask.
The fragrance- and oil-free formula includes a number of helpful ingredients to help hydrate dry skin. Hyaluronic acid draws moisture to your skin, while aloe water and caffeine trigger your skin’s internal hydration, delivering continuous moisture for up to 72 hours. Also working hard are lipids to lock down moisture to fortify the skin’s barrier, plus Cica (also called tiger grass), an antioxidant-rich herb that helps to soothe redness and skin irritation. For most people, the end result will be glowing, plump, hydrated skin that’s also smooth to the touch.
Key specs – Size: 50ml; Type: Pot
6. La Roche-Posay Nutritic Intense Moisturiser Riche: Best face cream for extra dry skin
Price: £19 | Buy now from Boots
This daily moisturiser from La Roche-Posay is specifically designed to help tackle the discomfort caused by very dry skin. A rich, intense cream, it takes some time to absorb – but the results are worth the wait. And it works its magic without feeling greasy on the skin.
Enriched with Innovation MP-lipids, these are highly efficient at producing the moisturising components necessary for the skin’s protective barrier. The formula also includes hydrating ingredients such as shea butter and glycerin, while thermal water and niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) help to calm and soothe the skin, reducing irritation and redness.
It may all sound rather complicated; but in a nutshell this cream delivers intense moisture to very dry skin, locking it in. The formula is dermatologist-tested and is both hypoallergenic and paraben-free.
Key specs – Size: 40ml; Type: Pot