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Best moisturisers for dry skin 2024: Hydrating creams for parched and sensitive skin types from £12

If nourished, supple and smooth skin is what you’re after, then our pick of the best moisturisers for dry skin won’t let you down

Moisturiser is an essential part of any skincare ritual. However, it becomes especially important as the temperatures drop, when skin can become more sensitive and could benefit from an extra layer of resilience against the wind, chillier climes and central heating. For dry skin, in particular, the right cream will nourish the skin and provide it with long-lasting smoothness.

Not all moisturisers are created equal, though, so in order to help you make the right choice, we’ve tried and tested the best moisturisers for dry skin. Moisturisers for dry skin tend to be richer, with some even providing relief for itchy skin, eczema and other skin conditions.

Below, we reveal the best moisturisers for dry skin currently available; but before you discover all the options, please read our guide on how to choose the best dry skin moisturiser for your needs.

Best moisturisers for dry skin: At a glance

Best moisturiser for dry and sensitive skinAvène Cicalfate+ Restorative Protective Cream (~£16)Check price at Lookfantastic
Best dry skin moisturiser with SPFLa Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 AquaGel SPF30 (~£38)Check price at Lookfantastic
Best budget moisturiser for dry skin Byoma Moisturizing Rich Cream (~£14)Check price at Boots
Best moisturiser for wearing under makeupCurél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream (~£20)Check price at Boots

How to choose the best moisturiser for dry skin for you

How do I know if I have dry skin?

“Dry skin is a very specific skin type that leaves sufferers with skin that is flaky, irritated or dull,” explains aesthetics nurse and Harley Street clinician Jem Brandt. “Unlike dehydrated skin (which lacks water and is often caused by external factors such as diet and lifestyle), dry skin lacks oil and lipids at a much deeper level and is often triggered in the winter months.”

What should I look for in a moisturiser?

Dry skin moisturisers tend to be richer, sometimes taking longer to absorb than formulas for normal skin. As such, this will be a consideration if you intend to wear the cream under makeup. That said, we’ve included a range of non-greasy formulas in our list, too, which would be ideal for wearing under makeup if you’re fighting for time in the mornings.

“Look out for key ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, squalane and ceramides, all of which are great for locking in moisture and protecting the delicate skin barrier,” adds Jem.

“In addition to your skincare, you should also potentially be looking at taking a nutritionist-recommended collagen supplement and eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in olive oil, nuts, berries and omega-rich fatty fish such as salmon to help strengthen your body’s ability to function, repair and restore.”

If you have a dry skin condition such as eczema, look for formulations designed specifically to tackle those concerns to ensure you don’t make the problem any worse.

“If you find that your skin does become irritated, strip back your routine with just a nourishing cleanser, moisturiser and SPF until your barrier repairs,” adds Jem.

How much should I spend on moisturiser?

This will depend on your budget and how often you intend to use the cream, but there are some great options in this list that come in under £20.

For a skincare staple like moisturiser, it should be more about the ingredients it contains and whether or not they’re suitable for your skin type, rather than the price. Notably, however, our favourite cream – the Avène Cicalfate+ – is also one the most wallet-friendly at £12.

How we test moisturisers for dry skin

We test all the moisturisers we review, only using products on the appropriate skin type.

We try out formulas that include various beneficial ingredients and note the effects on dry skin. Where the moisturisers are recommended for a particular type of usage, we test in those conditions to ensure we make an accurate recommendation.

When testing, we diligently follow the directions stated, and evaluate the overall quality of the product, its immediate feel on the skin, and the results following continued use. We also note whether the product is free from fragrance, which may irritate super-sensitive skin types.

READ NEXT: Best primer for dry skin

The best moisturisers for dry skin you can buy in 2024

1. Avène Cicalfate+ Restorative Protective Cream: Best moisturiser for dry and sensitive skin

Price when reviewed: £16 (100ml) | Check price at LookFantastic

Avene Cicalfate Restorative Protective Cream 100ml tube on a white backgroundIf you’ve ever been for an advanced facial treatment or peel, you’ll probably have spotted a near-empty tube of Avène Cicalfate somewhere among the therapist’s array of products. This much-loved cream is a staple in many a facialist’s kit thanks to its advanced healing properties and ability to soothe skin discomfort and calm redness without clogging the pores.

It’s the clever combination of antibacterial copper sulphate, zinc sulphate and the brand’s renowned Thermal Spring Water that work to replenish and purify dry skin, while gently protecting it.

The consistency is thick, so a little goes a long way. And though it may take a little massaging to avoid a white cast, the product absorbs easily and provides long-lasting nourishment for even the driest of skin types. Note that it’s also suitable for those with atopic eczema.

Key specs – Fragrance-free: Yes; Key ingredients: Thermal spring water, copper sulphate, zinc sulphate

Check price at LookFantastic

2. Byoma Moisturizing Rich Cream: Best budget moisturiser for dry skin

Price when reviewed: £14 (50ml) | Check price at BootsByoma rich moisturiser for dry skin on a white background

Aside from its vibrant packaging and affordable price point, Byoma is taking the beauty world by storm thanks to its innovative barrier-boosting formulas. All of the brand’s products are centred around repairing and restoring a compromised skin barrier – a must for those with dry skin.

The Moisturizing Rich Cream is our pick for dry skin types. It contains ceramides and shea butter to leave skin feeling plumped and soft, with a deliciously thick consistency that rivals its more expensive counterparts. It also contains bakuchiol – commonly known as a plant-derived alternative to retinol – which helps to boost the tone and texture of the skin.

We loved how quickly this was absorbed into the skin after cleansing. It may feel rich, but it isn’t overly heavy or oily, and did a great job of locking in moisture for the rest of the day.

Key specs – Fragrance-free: Yes; Key ingredients: Ceramides, bakuchiol, shea butter

3. Farmacy Honey Halo: Best moisturiser for very dry skin

Price when reviewed: £44 (50ml) | Check price at SpaceNKFarmacy Honey Halo on a white backgound

If you commonly suffer from flaky and sensitive skin, a rich cream like Farmacy’s ceramide-packed Honey Halo is worth a spot on your bathroom shelf (if not for the chic packaging alone). It also contains a ton of plant-based ingredients that work in tandem to provide optimal hydration – think antioxidant-rich buckwheat honey and sweet fig.

It may lean towards the pricey side, but the hydrating results of this cream are worth every penny. Plus, it’s a joy to use; the silky, whipped texture and mouth-watering honey scent feel luxurious and ultra-nourishing. The cooling steel spatula that comes with the larger sizes (50ml+) feels really good on the skin, too.

Key specs – Fragrance-free: No (natural fragrance); Key ingredients: Ceramides, shea butter, buckwheat honey, glycerin

4. Nourish London Argan Skin Renew Moisturiser: Best moisturiser for smoothing fine lines

Price when reviewed: £35 (50ml) | Check price at Nourish LondonNourish London Argan skin renew moisturiser on a white background

Sometimes a beauty product will exceed expectations and so it is with Nourish London’s Argan Skin Renew Moisturiser which works to flood skin with moisture and plump out those wafer-thin lines that can appear around tired eyes.

The formula features a potent blend of omega-rich argan oil, vitamin E and collagen-boosting tripeptides alongside frankincense, myrrh and borage oils. The result is a rich cream and a super-silky texture that glides on beautifully and offers 24-hour hydration without a hint of heaviness.

The ingredients in this particular cream are 85% organic, and all Nourish London products are vegan and cruelty-free.

Key specs – Fragrance-free: Yes; Key ingredients: Argan oil, peptides, vitamin E

5. Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Cream: Best high-end moisturiser for dry skin

Price when reviewed: £69 (50ml) | Check price at LookFantasticKate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Cream on a white background

Whether you have naturally dry skin, you overdid it in the sun or with the retinol or the fumes of your daily commute have left you with redness and sensitivity, this cream from Kate Somerville will calm and relieve irritated complexions in an instant.

The formula contains a perfectly balanced combination of peptides and ceramides alongside ginger root and tasmannia lanceolata fruit extract, which is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, to help soothe and neutralise the visible effects of such environmental stressors.

This was one of the thicker creams that we tried – boasting an almost balm-like texture – but we loved how quickly it was absorbed into the skin without any heaviness, stickiness or greasiness. A luxurious and soothing treat for dry skin all year round, but particularly in the colder months.

Key specs – Fragrance-free: Yes; Key ingredients: Glycerin, ceramides, ginger root, tasmannia lanceolata fruit extract

Check price at LookFantastic

6. REN Evercalm Barrier Support Body Balm: Best body moisturiser for barrier repair

Price when reviewed: £35 (90ml) | Check price at LookFantasticREN Evercalm Barrier Support Body Balm on a white background

For top-to-toe moisture, this multi-tasking balm from REN Clean Skincare quickly absorbs to soothe parched and irritated skin. Simply massage into scaly elbows and knees and it quickly melts into a delicious oil on contact with the skin.

The formula is rich in essential omegas 3, 6 and 9 alongside ceramides, camellia japonica seed oil and safflower to help support and repair a damaged skin barrier that’s been ravaged by pollution, too much sun, harsh scrubs, and the overuse of actives.

We loved applying this straight after a shower when our skin was still damp to lock in moisture, and it worked a treat on restoring any dry patches present. We also love that it’s gentle enough for the whole family to use – including little ones.

Be sure to check out the Overnight Recovery Balm from the same range to minimise signs of dryness-induced sensitivity and redness on your face, too.

Key specs – Fragrance-free: Yes; Key ingredients: Sunflower, apricot and sweet almond oil, camellia japonica seed oil, safflower ceramide complex

Check price at LookFantastic

7. Curél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream: Best dry skin moisturiser for wearing under makeup

Price when reviewed: £20 (40g) | Check price at BootsCurél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream on a white background

Not all moisturisers are great for wearing under makeup. Some, particularly those that are heavy, can pill, flake or ball when your foundation or base is applied, leaving you frustrated (to say the least) and having to start over again. Step forward, Curél and its pH-balanced Intensive Moisture Facial Cream.

Designed to replenish and protect dry skin types, this dermatologist and beauty editor favourite is a regular sell-out and provides a silky canvas for makeup thanks to the lightweight, non-oily texture.

It does a brilliant job of hydrating the surface of the skin, locking in nourishment and protecting against the external aggressors that cause dehydration, while leaving skin feeling radiant, puppy soft and ready for product. Just be sure to give it time to absorb fully before applying makeup.

Since Curél’s products are all pH-balanced, fragrance and colour-free, this Japanese brand is also brilliant for sensitive skin types.

Key specs – Fragrance-free: Yes; Key ingredients: Glycerin, squalane

8. La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 AquaGel SPF30: Best dry skin moisturiser with SPF

Price when reviewed: £38 (50ml) | Check price at LookFantasticLa Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 AquaGel SPF30 on a white background

If you’re looking for a moisturiser that doubles as sun protection, then look no further than La Roche-Posay’s Hyalu B5 AquaGel which delivers both SPF 30 protection alongside a burst of hydration to dry and thirsty skin.

Packed with vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid to soften and condition, its light, fast-absorbing texture feels more like a serum than a moisturiser which makes it great for oily and combination skin types as well as those with drier complexions since it won’t clog pores.

We couldn’t help but notice a more radiant glow from first use. It also creates a perfectly cushioned and illuminated base for makeup. La Roche-Posay’s formulations are ideal for sensitive skin types, too.

Key specs – Fragrance-free: Yes; Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5

9. CeraVe Moisturising Cream: Best face and body moisturiser for dry skin

Price when reviewed: £16 (454g) | Check price on Cult BeautyCeraVe Moisturising Cream on a white background

Of course, while there’s plenty going on above the neck, it’s important not to neglect the rest of your body – especially during the colder months when it requires a bit of extra TLC.

This generous tub from cult favourite CeraVe has a thick and satisfying consistency that feels much more luxurious than its £16 price tag. It’s packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid to instantly hydrate arms, legs and everything in between while leaving the skin barrier undisturbed. It can be used on the face, too.

Apply straight from the shower when your skin is still damp and expect brighter, more supple and smoother skin all over.

Key specs – Fragrance-free: Yes; Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin

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