Best moisturiser for dry skin and dehydrated skin UK

The best moisturisers for dry skin and dehydrated complexions, based on 100+ real-world tests

29th November 2023 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

We’ve tested more than 100 moisturisers to discover which is the best moisturiser for dehydrated and dry skin to suit all budgets


It should be easy to find the best moisturiser for dry skin because, by their very definition, creams and lotions are designed to hydrate and nourish.

Yet it’s not that straightforward.

Some lock in moisture, some help control oil, others repair the skin barrier…the list and options are endless.

We recently started a major skincare group test on TikTok to make this whole process easier and to find the best moisturisers, serums, toners, and primers in the UK.

At the time of writing, we’ve tested more than 200 products in total, and counting.

As part of this series, we’re ranking the products based on their price, how hydrating they are, and which skin type they’re best suited to among other factors.

This includes a mix of real-world reviews on different skin types, as well as measuring hydration levels with a hydration meter.

As a result, we’re able to finally reveal, once and for all, which are the best moisturisers for dry skin to suit all budgets.

We’ve previously ranked our best moisturisers for oily skin, as well as the best moisturisers for all skin types here.

The skincare series is similar to our foundation group test and you can read more about that on our best foundation makeup page.

If you’re interested to learn more about how we test moisturisers, jump straight to that section. We’re also tracking the scores for each of these products on a spreadsheet which you can find here.

Or keep reading to discover what we consider to be the best moisturisers for dry skin.


FURTHER READING: Best foundation for dry skin | Do you have dry skin or is just dehydrated? | What causes dry skin and how to get rid of it | What does moisturiser do – and how to match a moisturiser to your skin type


What’s the best moisturiser for dry skin?

Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jellymamabella | mamabella

If you’d rather not delve into our full list, below is our best moisturiser for dry skin at the time of writing. As we test more moisturisers, this may change.

***Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly***

This moisturising jelly is lightweight and hydrating making it ideal for dry skin. It contains glycerin to attract moisture, cucumber extract to soothe and calm dry, irritated skin, and hyaluronic acid to keep the skin plump and refreshed.

You can read more about this moisturiser below.

Read our full Clinique Hydrating Jelly review here


Best moisturiser for dry skin

This list is subject to change as more tests are completed. These are the top 10 best moisturisers for dry skin as of September 2023. You can see the full list of all products ranked on our spreadsheet, and we’ve also started listing the best serums, best toners, and best primers separately here.

 

  1. Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly
  2. Purito Deep Sea Water Cream
  3. COSRX Snail Mucin All-In-One-Cream
  4. e.l.f Superhydrate Gel
  5. Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream
  6. Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base
  7. Aveeno Oat Gel Moisturiser
  8. CeraVe Moisturising Lotion
  9. Eucerin Urea Lotion Plus 10%
  10. Etude House Soon Jung 2x Barrier Cream

 

 

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Best moisturiser for dry skin reviews

Below we’ve started reviewing the best moisturisers for dry skin as part of our skincare group test and we’ll be adding to this list as the tests continue and as the scores and leaderboard change.


Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly

£35 | Buy now

View the full TikTok video 

Read our full Clinique Hydrating Jelly review

Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jellymamabella | mamabella

Clinique’s Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly was one of the later products we tested in our hunt for the best moisturiser for dry skin and it jumped straight to the top.

This is despite being on the pricey side, which tends to knock points off.

During our hydration test, it increased the levels in our skin by a staggering 12 points after five minutes.

To put this into perspective, that represents an increase of 43.8% and is almost three times the average of the 100+ moisturisers we’ve tested.

What’s more, it’s the second-highest increase of any moisturiser tested, and higher than any serum too.

This impressive hydration then continued to rise further after an hour, giving a total hydration increase of 44.5%.

This alone would make it perfect for dry skin but the fact its jelly consistency feels cooling and calming on the skin, it gets extra kudos.

Ingredient-wise, there are no “icky” ingredients in this moisturiser. In fact, there are a couple of “superstar” and “goodie” ingredients in the form of glycerin, cucumber extract, and hyaluronic acid.

All of which are ideal for helping hydrate dry and dehydrated skin.

It also contains caffeine to bring dull skin to life and citric acid that acts as a gentle exfoliant to get rid of dead skin and debris. This is great for gently removing dry skin flakes, too.

In summary, we’re huge fans of this moisturiser for dry skin. Its price and the fact it’s not a fully vegan brand are the only downsides to what is otherwise a perfect product.

FURTHER READING: Clinique Moisture Surge review | The best Clinique moisturiser for your skin type, budget and concerns


Purito Deep Sea Water Cream

£17.50 | Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)

View the full TikTok video by clicking here

Purito Deep Sea Water Cream reviewPurito

The Purito Deep Sea Water Cream currently holds the top spot on our best moisturiser list, which takes all skin types into account, and sits in 2nd place in our best moisturiser for dry skin ranking.

This is because it delivered a huge increase of 13.2 points, or 35% in our hydration test after five minutes.

There was a slight drop of 1.3 points after an hour, but this still meant the overall hydration of our skin had increased by 11.9 points or 32.7%, making it ideal for dry and dehydrated skin.

The consistency of this Deep Sea Water Cream is closest to that of The Inkey List’s Omega Water Cream in that it’s a slightly runny lotion that feels light on the skin and absorbs easily.

On first use, we didn’t think this would be enough to soothe our dry skin but it was surprisingly nourishing without feeling heavy or thick.

You also only need a tiny amount of this cream to cover your entire face and neck, which goes some way to counteracting the fact this moisturiser is more expensive than others in this list.

A little goes a long way so you don’t need to use as much, and this makes the Purito cream good value.

Elsewhere in our best moisturiser for dry skin ranking, this cream scored a maximum of 10 points for its ingredients. This means that none of them have been found to cause problems with the skin.

Some of its ingredients have a mid-level risk of causing breakouts. It’s not something to be worried about, and in our experience, it’s not once caused us any problems, but this is worth considering if you have dry skin that is sometimes prone to spots.

Read our full Purito Deep Sea Water Cream review here


COSRX Snail Mucin All-in-One Cream

£27 | Buy now

View the full TikTok video by clicking here

COSRX Snail Mucin All In One Cream reviewCOSRX

COSRX’s Snail 92 All In One Cream was one of the most requested products in our hunt for the best moisturiser for dry skin, and it currently sits in 3rd place.

This is because the gel-like cream increased the hydration of our skin by 11.1 percentage points, which equates to a little over 30% in just five minutes.

This not only makes it one of the most hydrating moisturisers we’ve tested, but it also puts it on par with the hydration increases seen in our best serum and best toner tests too.

It lost points slightly because of the fact it doesn’t come cheap. It’s also vegan, due to the use of snail mucin.

On the plus side, it scored the maximum amount of points for its ingredients and comes with low irritation and comedogenic ratings.

The consistency takes a little getting used to because it’s slimy and can be difficult to manage.

That said, it absorbs quickly and makes the skin feel immediately softer, smoother and hydrated.

A little also goes a long way so, like with the Purito Cream, this cream is good value for money despite the fact it costs almost £30!

Worth the investment, in our opinion.

Read our full COSRX Snail Mucin Cream review here


e.l.f Superhydrate Gel Moisturiser

£12 | Buy now (UK) | Buy now (US)

View the full TikTok video by clicking here

elf superhydrate gel moisturiser reviewmamabella | mamabella

Another super hydrating and lightweight moisturiser for dry skin is the e.l.f Superhydrate Gel Moisturiser.

In our hydration test, this refreshing gel increased the hydration levels 11.5 points, which represents an increase of 30% after five minutes.

Like with the Purito Cream, this hydration dropped slightly after an hour, by 2.5 points.

However, even with this drop, the Superhydrate Gel still increased the hydration of our skin by nine points, or 25% overall.

This is well above average compared to all of the other moisturisers we’ve tested.

The consistency is not too dissimilar to that of the COSRX All-In-One Cream, although this gel is slightly thicker and easier to control.

You don’t need to apply a lot of this gel to reap the rewards but if your skin is feeling particularly dry or you want to give it a little extra TLC, you can use this gel as a face mask.

Simply add a thicker layer and let it sit on the skin for as long as you like before massaging it in.

We use this gel as a face mask overnight and it leaves our skin feeling and looking amazing when we wake up.

It’s also one of the best moisturisers for dry skin because it doesn’t contain ingredients that could potentially cause redness, or irritation.

In fact, it contains antioxidants that actually boost its protection and help repair the skin barrier. A common cause of dry skin.

These include Vitamin E, as well as Centella Asiatica, a plant-based squalane alongside snow mushroom, to add hydration and niacinamide to brighten and clear the complexion.

All for a relatively cheap £12. Plus it’s vegan and cruelty-free so scores highly across the board in our hunt for the best moisturiser for dry skin.


Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream

£79 | Buy now

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream reviewCharlotte Tilbury

Described by Charlotte Tilbury as a hydration hero, Charlotte’s Magic Water Cream is the thinner, unscented counterpart to her original and iconic Magic Cream.

Alongside antioxidants, like Vitamin E, and humectants and hydrating ingredients like squalane, and glycerin, the Magic Water Cream contains: beta-glucan for skin barrier repair, niacinamide to diminish the appearance of pores and reduce sebum; a Biopeptide Complex that enhances skin tone and texture, and more.

Charlotte Tilbury makes bold claims about its 48-hour hydration properties, and while we have yet to conduct a 48-hour test, our initial assessments indicate that this is quite accurate.

Within just five minutes of application, it raised our skin’s hydration by an impressive 17 points, marking the highest increase we’ve seen among all tested products.

Although this total hydration dipped slightly after an hour – to 14.6 points – it still meant our skin was 56% more hydrated than when we started the test.

What’s more, it’s exceptionally lightweight on oily and sensitive skin, leaving behind a dewy finish that isn’t overly greasy.

It doesn’t rank higher on our list due to its price tag and a few components that might pose challenges for extremely sensitive skin types.

Buy now

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base

£52 | Buy now

View the full TikTok video by clicking here

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base review for dry skinmamabella | mamabella

Sitting in fifth place in our best moisturiser for dry skin list is the Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base.

Having gained an almost cult following on TikTok, this moisturiser is praised by makeup artists everywhere for providing a smooth and hydrated base for foundation.

Yet it can also be used as a moisturiser for dry skin on its own. This is because it’s lightweight and is formulated with Vitamin E to help nourish and protect the skin from environmental damage.

It also contains Vitamin A, making it additionally great for mature skin, especially skin that has become drier as a result of menopause; and Vitamin C which helps brighten and even out dull skin tone, which is one of the main complaints of dehydrated and dry skin.

In our tests, the Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base increased hydration levels by 9.1 points (25.3%) after five minutes and dropped 2.7 points after an hour, giving a total rise of 19.2%.

This means that it can help to improve the overall hydration of the skin, leaving it feeling soft, smooth, and plump.

It didn’t make the podium because it lost points for being so expensive. The brand isn’t fully vegan, and the ingredients in the Face Base could potentially cause certain skin types some problems.

In particular, it contains a number of fragrances that could cause issues for people with sensitive skin.

As could the use of Vitamin A if your skin isn’t used to retinoids. These are minor points and the performance of the cream is great, but it’s worth considering.

Read more in our retinol for beginners explainer, and our best skincare for sensitive skin guide.

Buy from Lookfantastic

Eucerin Urea Lotion Plus  

£15.50 | Buy now

View the full TikTok video by clicking here

Eucerin Urea Plus 10% Lotion reviewmamabella

Eucerin has become a well-known and trusted brand for people with dry and sensitive skin and one if its most popular products is the Eucerin Urea 10% Lotion.

In our tests, the lotion surprised us with its ability to deeply hydrate the skin without feeling greasy.

After five minutes of application, the lotion increased the hydration of our skin by 7.5 points (20%).

After an hour, the hydration level dropped slightly but this still gave it a total rise of 5.1 points (14.6%). This is above average for our moisturiser ranking, and it placed the lotion in 20th place.

We were also surprised by how lightweight the lotion felt. We had assumed that it would be greasy, given that it is designed for dry skin, but it was actually very easy to apply and absorbed quickly into the skin.

We don’t have dry skin ourselves, but we could definitely feel the nourishing effects of the lotion. We are confident that it would work wonders for people with dry or rough skin.

The lotion is also affordable, costing just £1.86 per 30ml. It is also suitable for sensitive skin, and the use of ceramides and natural moisturising factors helps to repair the skin barrier.

The only downside to the lotion is that the brand is not fully vegan. However, this is a minor issue for most people.

Overall, we were very impressed with the Eucerin Urea 10% Lotion. It is a great option for people with dry skin who are looking for a lightweight, affordable, and effective moisturiser.

Buy now from Lookfantastic | Buy now from Walmart


How we test moisturisers

For each best moisturiser for dry skin test, we use a moisture meter called the Mili Pure to record the hydration levels of our skin before applying the moisturiser. We then check the hydration levels five minutes later, and an hour after application.

All tests are carried out on our hands to make sure the oil and hydration levels on our face don’t skew the results. This isn’t perfect but does help make it more consistent.

We then additionally test all creams in the real-world on different skin types over the course of four-six weeks to form a more well-rounded review.


Best moisturiser: Scoring methodology

We ranked products for the best moisturiser for dry skin list by the following criteria:

  • Price: This is the recommended retail price (RRP) for the product in question
  • Price (per 30ml): Based on the RRP, we determine the price of the product in question, per 30ml
  • Vegan: Fully vegan brands score 10. Brands that offer vegan products but aren’t fully vegan score 5. Brands with no vegan options score 0.
  • Cruelty-free: Cruelty-free brands score 10. Brands that don’t test on animals, but who partner with organisations or countries that do, score 5. Brands that offer no assurances about animal testing score 0.
  • Hydration points: The percentage point difference between the baseline hydration test, and the five-minute hydration test.
  • Hydration percentage: The percentage difference between the baseline hydration test, and the five-minute hydration test.
  • INCI score: Using the INCI Decoder website, we determine how many of the ingredients in a product’s formula are considered to be “icky” or worse. A product with no “icky” ingredients scores 100%, which we convert to a score of 10. A product with 10 ingredients and two of them are “icky” means the product is 20% “icky” and 80% “good.” The 80% is then converted to a score of 8.
  • Irritation Rating: All ingredients listed on the INCI Decoder website come with an irritation score, out of 5. The score for this category is taken from the highest-rated ingredient.
  • Comedogenic Rating: All ingredients listed on the INCI Decoder website also come with a comedogenic rating, out of 5. The score for this category is taken from the highest-rated ingredient.

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