Now that the cold is beginning to bite, we've found the latest and best moisturisers for dry and dehydrated skin
If you are in need of a great moisturiser for chronically dry skin or itchy, scratchy skin, or if yours is dehydrated (yes, oily and combination types, this could be you) you have never been better served than with the array of moisturisers available right now. The majority of moisturisers for dry skin or dehydrated skin are formulated to both nourish long-term and heal and strengthen the moisture-locking protective skin barrier with barrier-building ingredients such as ceramides and niacinamide.
Best of all, there’s a perfect moisturizer for dry and/or dehydrated skin to suit every skin issue and budget.
What is a moisturiser?
Moisturisers are ‘emulsions’ of oily and watery ingredients, mostly composed of:
- Humectants aka water magnets: these attract water into the skin’s top layers, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin and urea.
- Emollients aka skin softeners: these are nourishing oils and lipids that settle between the gaps in the skin’s protective barrier to reinforce it and prevent trans-epidermal water loss. Think squalane, rosehip oil and ceramides.
- Occlusives aka moisture and lipid lockers: these waxes, butters and other agents such as silicones and petroleum jelly seal in the moisture and lipids with a protective layer. The idea is to stop essential moisture leaching away, or in dermatologist-speak, to prevent trans-epidermal water loss or TEWL.
Why do you need a moisturiser for dry skin?
If we don’t tend to our dry or dehydrated skin with a decent moisturiser, it will eventually lose elasticity and start looking sallow, lacklustre and saggy. Lines will appear sooner than they ought to and you might develop sensitivity issues. So it’s no exaggeration to say that any good moisturiser, no matter how simple, is a basic anti-ageing cream.
Which moisturiser is right for you depends on what your skin needs.
Dry or dehydrated skin – which one are you?
Determining whether your skin is dry or dehydrated (or both) will help you pick the right products for you.
- How to know if you have dry skin. Dry skin is genetic. This skin type lacks in lipids and oils and you’ll need to consistently top those up with formulas high in oils and occlusives. The more chronically dry-feeling and flake-prone the skin on your face and body or the more you suffer from conditions such as eczema and sensitivity, the more likely it is you have this skin type. But don’t forget that you always need some humectants as well - all skins need oil and water to remain balanced and comfortable, as cosmetic physician Dr Sophie Shotter explains in her dos and don’ts of dealing with dry skin.
- How to know if you have dehydrated skin. This is not a skin type but a skin condition that anyone with any skin type (including oily) can suffer from. Dehydrated skins are sapped of water due to not drinking enough of the stuff, or a drying environment such as winter cold, central heating, and air conditioning. The wrong skincare can be dehydrating too. Treating skin aggressively with products high in sulphates, alcohol or too many chemical exfoliants and acids is dehydrating (check out these best cleansers for dry skin to help you avoid issues). To put moisture back in, a serum or cream rich in humectants (sodium PCA, sorbitol, propylene glycol and polyhydroxy acids, to name some more examples) is essential. But you will need some lipids such as ceramides as well to seal that water into the skin and repair your moisture barrier
- Can oily skin be dehydrated? Yes, it’s perfectly possible for oily skin to be severely dehydrated. You’ll know this when yours looks oily on the surface but feels dry and uncomfortable underneath. So don’t make the mistake of skipping moisturiser altogether if you have oily skin. Just remember that the oilier your skin, the more you should err on the side of humectants and choose a product low on occlusives as they might clog your pores. Oily skins will require fewer and lighter emollients (go for squalane and ceramides) than normal or dry skins.
Of course, most moisturisers will indicate what skin they’re best for, but if you know what balance of ingredients suits you best and what they look like on the ingredient list, you have far less chance of wasting money on a product that’s not quite right for you.
To help you along, we’ve listed the best new moisturisers for every conceivable skin type and condition.
Best moisturiser for blemish-prone and dehydrated skin: Oxygenetix Oxygenating Hydro-Matrix Moisturiser