If I told you there was a skincare equivalent of bundling yourself up in a cashmere tracksuit, would you believe me? Buckle up naysayers – you skincare non-believers of the world – for there actually is a product that cossets and comforts the skin just like the softest ensemble. Its name? Weleda Skin Food.
A beauty editor and makeup artist favourite (most have it in their kit), Weleda Skin Food is an under-the-radar cult moisturising cream that promises “rich, intensive skincare” for the face and body. Its certified natural formula contains wild pansy, sunflower seed oil, chamomile, calendula and rosemary extract, to deeply nourish, hydrate and soften rough or compromised skin. Put simply, it’s a winter saviour.
“I love it as it penetrates deeply, offering instant hydration and nourishment,” agrees make-up artist Celia Burton, who knows her way around a juicy skin situation. “It was one of the first products I discovered as a make-up artist and it’s stood the test of time, sitting in the same place in my kit 12 years later. It enriches and brightens the skin, smells divine, and its ingredients list is small and uncomplicated. It’s an all rounder.”
She also attests to its multifaceted nature: she uses it as a base under make-up, as a rich, nourishing mask on flights, a salve on dry patches and as a night cream in the winter months. “I use it religiously all year round under make-up, and apply it to my cheeks and around my temples and eyes to impart glow before I apply my foundation.” Trust me when I tell you this little trick (learned from make-up artist Katie Jane Hughes, another big Skin Food fan) adds a whole lot of oomph to a bog-standard foundation. The compliments will come thick and fast.
As a thick, rather unctuous cream (housed in a distinctive and very easy-to-use green tube), oily skin types might prefer the Light formula, which contains many of the same skin-loving ingredients but feels that little bit more comfortable if heavy creams aren’t your thing. Given it’s winter and our skin barriers are always in jeopardy – thanks to the combination of cold weather and central heating – it’s a fantastic cream to add to basket, and given that it’s a mere £7.95 for a 30ml tube (£12.95 for 75ml), it’s an affordable one, too.
Best Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin: Boscia Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer
“Less moisture in the air causes skin dryness,” says Dr. Nussbaum. “If your skin’s natural moisture barrier isn’t properly hydrated, it’s not as equipped to fight off acne-causing bacteria.” If you deal with constant blemishes, look for an oil-free, water-based lotion or gel that will moisture skin without clogging pores. This Boscia gel offers a soothing formula, rich with calming tea tree extract that will minimize breakout-induced redness.
Best Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer SPF 15
If your skin leans on the sensitive side, Dr. Nussbaum recommends avoiding moisturizers with “irritants such as fragrances, dyes, lanolin, parabens and formaldehyde.” This drugstore staple checks off all the boxes. Aveeno’s moisturizer is light, fast-absorbing, and is formulated with skin-calming botanicals. Bonus: It also serves as a second layer of SPF protection.
Best Moisturizer for Hyperpigmentation: Murad Essential-C Day Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 30 PA+++
Whether your uneven skin tone is the result of a bad breakout or caused by sun damage, a vitamin C-infused moisturizer will help brighten dark spots while simultaneously hydrating skin. But don’t forget the sunscreen. “Moisturizers containing SPF will reduce the oxidative damage of the sun,” explains Dr. Nussbaum. That’s exactly what this Murad tube is made to do.
Best Moisturizer for Oily Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream
Fun fact: Hyaluronic acid is an all-star moisturizing ingredient, because it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. That’s what makes Neutrogena’s gel-based, HA-packed moisturizer ideal for oily skin types. Instead of a heavy cream, this lightweight water-based product pulls in moisture without clogging already congested pores.
Best Moisturizer for Combination Skin: The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
The Gemini of skin types, finding the right moisturizer for combination skin can be tough because it has to jive with both oilyness and dryness. That’s where The Ordinary’s Natural Moisturizing Factors comes in. The lightweight, non-greasy cream includes dermal lipids to protect the outer skin layer, hyaluronic acid to draw in moisture, and amino acids to hydrate. It’ll moisturize the right areas of the face without making oily spots shinier.
Best Moisturizer for Aging Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer
Important PSA: The sun can still cause oxidative damage in the winter, which can lead to photoaging. That said, Dr. Nussbaum suggests looking for a moisturizer that’s packed with antioxidants to counteract the harmful effects of UV/UVA rays. What else should an anti-aging moisturizer include? Retinol, along with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid and moisture-sealing ceramides. “Certain moisturizers will contain a form of retinol that increases skin cell turnover,” she says. “The shedding of the dead skin cell layers also enables increased absorption of moisturizers.” Look no futher than this Dr. Dennis Gross jar, which is formulated with both retinol and ferulic acid, a powerful antioxdant.
Best Moisturizer for Dry Skin: Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream
“Ceramides are lipids that help form the skin’s natural moisture barrier,” explains Dr. Nussbaum. “In dry, cold weather, your skin’s ability to naturally produce ceramides may be compromised, leading to dry, dull skin.” If your skin is extremely dry year-round, go with a ceramide-rich moisturizer for winter, like Dr. Jart+’s cult-favorite cream. The lipids will strengthen the skin barrier so less moisture gets out.
Best Moisturizer for All Skin Types: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer
If your skin doesn’t fall into one particular category, Dr. Nussbaum is a fan of Olay’s Sculpting Cream because it’s a rich, nourishing cream that works well for balanced skin, but also targets dryness and aging. “It contains niacinamide (vitamin B3), a hard-working ingredient which regenerates surface cells and strengthens skin’s natural moisture barrier,” she says. “It also contains amino-peptides, known to boost collagen production and improve skin’s elasticity, smoothness and firmness as well as hyaluronic acid & glycerin.”
It’s a tale as old as time for anyone with sensitive skin: One of your favorite brands has come out with a new moisturizer. The ingredient list? Intriguing and full of potential benefits for your skin. The packaging? Ridiculously cute and would look great alongside the products in your medicine cabinet. So, you add it to your cart.
For sensitive skin, finding staple products for your routine that are effective, fun to use, and non-irritating can feel like an impossible feat — especially since sensitivity manifests itself in a few different ways and there are multiple causes of it.
Dr. Morgan Rabach, board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical in New York City, says “skin that reacts strongly to most stimui, including environmental and temperature, products, skin with a decreased barrier function, and allergic skin (like ezcema which also has a decreased barrier function),” can all be categorized as sensitive skin.
To top it off, not all skincare products are created equal. But figuring out what type of sensitive skin you have is the first step to finding a moisturizer that won’t result in instant irritation such as redness, burning, itching, which can be followed by peeling or a breakout.
“Look for a moisturizer with few ingredients and with active ones including ceramides, which help seal the outer layers of skin, and hyaluronic acid,” says Dr. Rabach.
She also recommends avoiding formulas with fragrance, preservatives, and dyes, which are all common triggers for sensitive skin. Isopropyl alcohol, exfoliants like AHA acids, retinol, and added sunscreens (especially chemical ones) can also cause irritation.
With so many potentially irritating ingredients to look out for, finding a moisturizer that isn’t going to piss off sensitive skin can feel like a full-time job.
Here are 8 super hydrating moisturizers that are gentle enough for sensitive, reactive skin.
This wildly affordable, gentle moisturizer is safe for reactive skin, and anyone who prefers a lotion over a cream. With zero fragrance, oil, and alcohol in the formula, there’s no need to stress over potential irritation or greasy residue.
Don’t underestimate this little tube, it packs a serious dose of moisture. In addition to leaving the surface of the skin soft and smooth, Kiehl’s hypoallergenic, fragrance, and alcohol-free moisturizer repairs the skin barrier to prevent future dryness and helps reduce visible redness and fine lines.
With an allergy-tested formula, Obagi’s Hydrate Facial Moisturizer is even less likely to cause irritation. Powered by hydromanil, a super nourishing plant-based ingredient, this moisturizer retains hydration while simultaneously improving the appearance of hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.
For oily, acne-prone skin that also leans on the sensitive side, opt for a lightweight oil-free moisturizer that won’t further clog your pores or leave a greasy film on your face. Shani Darden’s fragrance-free, oil-free moisturizer has a silky serum-like texture that quickly absorbs into skin with a shine-free finish.
While retinol is commonly touted as *the* holy grail of anti-aging ingredients, the skin-renewing ingredient can be too harsh for reactive skin, and those with conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. That’s where peptides, the hero ingredient of Drunk Elephant’s rich moisturizer, enter the picture. Peptides are the building blocks of proteins, such as collagen and keratin, which help keep skin firm and smooth. Plant-derived antioxidants and nutrients round out the formula to improve skin texture and tone.
Don’t want to spend a ton of money on a moisturizer that won’t set off your sensitive skin? Look no further than CeraVe’s tried-and-true cream, available at any drugstore. Formulated with hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin barrier-strengthening ceramides, it seals in moisture, which is key for preventing reactions and flareups of skin conditions such as eczema. No wonder this moisturizer has earned the National Eczema association’s seal of approval.
Most heavy-duty moisturizers are thick, rich creams that never fully absorb into skin — meet the exception. Known the “melting moisturizer,” this EltaMD formula soaks into skin and maintains hydration for up to 12 hours, plus it relieves redness and irritation. Consider it a foolproof pick for sensitive skin types that also suffer from excessive dryness.
On top of hydrating skin with a mix of nourishing and soothing colloidal oatmeal, avocado oil, and shea butter, this lightweight moisturizer leaves skin smooth like a primer, which makes it ideal for wearing under makeup.
The definition and meaning of makeup priming have changed overtime, in some cases to be more confusing. However, as a professional makeup artist, you have to know what it means to prime the face for makeup application, whether a separate primer is needed, what skin concerns you are trying to address, etc.
While some makeup artists swear by skincare as priming alone to be just fine, others argue that a makeup artist should have a variety of primers in their kit to address specific skin concerns such as redness, dehydration, large pores, uneven skin tone, dull skin, oily or dry skin, sensitive skin, and more.
In my opinion, moisturizer is non-negotiable, and has to be freshly applied before makeup application. Then, I carefully assess the client’s face by asking questions and gently pressing with my pinky finger to see the skin response. From there, I decide whether to apply a specific primer that would be beneficial to the client, and not just another layer.
That said, often times either one of these three techniques are used post moisturizing:
On top of moisturizer, one primer is applied concentrating in a specific area, with purposes to smooth the skin, correct redness, provide a healthy glow, mattify, or further hydrate. The best example of this is using a moisturizer suitable for the client’s skin needs, with, for example, an oily T-zone being covered with a mattifying primer, but the rest of the skin left alone.
On top of moisturizer, two or more primers are used to correct more than one concern on a client’s face. Same skin concerns as above, using specific primers in specific areas.
Lastly, as I mentioned in the beginning, some makeup artists feel as though the moisturizing step is enough to prepare the client’s skin for makeup, and if it’s still fresh and active – carry on with makeup application.
Here I’ve listed some great options for common skin concerns: