Best Dry Skin Moisturiser & Face Cream Guide

While moisturiser is a critical part of all skincare routines, it’s especially important for those with dry skin.

If this is your skin type, there are certain products that you’ll lean on more to benefit your skin - and one of them is moisturiser.

Firstly, let’s take a closer look at what dry skin means - and how to tell if it’s your skin type!

Understanding Dry Skin

Dry skin is a common challenge - it often appears as visible skin flakes, a tight feeling on skin, and a lack of radiance. Those with dry skin rarely appear dewy, and it can often feel like you’ve applied layers and layers of skincare to no visible effect. 

This skin type produces little to no sebum (that’s what the natural oil produced by skin is called). This is the reason why dry skin tends to look nearly poreless; however, the trade-off for this is skin that doesn’t hold onto hydration and can easily have visible skin flakes and even premature wrinkles. Skin that isn’t properly hydrated ‘sags’ without enough moisture - leading to temporary worsening of wrinkles.

Moisturisers help dry skin in several ways. Firstly, they help keep hydration where it needs to be: in your skin! Secondly, they instantly improve the look of skin. They immediately increase moisture levels and reduce the look of ashiness, making a visible difference to your skin. Lastly, they benefit overall skin health by improving your skin’s natural moisture barrier. 

This last step is extra critical for dry skin; it’s prone to extra redness and sensitivity, and ensuring that your moisture barrier is intact helps to ward these common skin concerns away. 

Types of Moisturisers

There are five common types of moisturisers to choose from: lotions, creams, gels, balms, and oils. 

Each has their own pros and cons - here’s a quick run-through on each of them, plus our top recommendation for moisturiser for dry skin!

Lotion Moisturiser

Lotion moisturisers are probably the most common type that you’ll see. That’s because they perfectly straddle the balance of moisturising, without feeling too heavy. They’re ideal for all skin types thanks to their lighter texture (compared to a cream). 

However, just because their texture is lighter doesn’t mean that they still can’t pack a punch for dry skin. One of our favourites to use for clients with dry skin at the Beauty Affairs MediSpa is Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Balance. It’s designed specifically for dry and dehydrated skin, helping to lock in moisture without feeling too heavy or greasy. This moisturising lotion can be used day and night for glowing, cared-for skin. 

Cream Moisturiser

Cream moisturisers can be a little heavier and replenishing on skin - they’re formulated with more oils and lipids to smooth the skin’s texture and intensely moisturise skin. They’re best when used at night, but those with very dry skin can opt to use them during the daytime too. 

One of our top picks is the Declare Stress Balance Extra Rich Skin Soothing Cream. This nurturing cream moisturiser features a blend of plant-based ingredients to restore moisture to skin while at the same time, warding away potential for redness and irritation. The skin-beneficial formula is perfect for day and night to help lock in moisture and minimise any possible sensitivity. 

Gel Moisturiser

Gel moisturisers are the most lightweight of all moisturisers, and are ideal for skin during the warmer months. They tend to have a lower percentage of oils compared to their lotion and cream counterparts, but they’re still packed with hydrating goodness. Our pick for dry skin is the Murad Nutrient-Charged Water Gel

This lightweight moisturiser gives all the benefits of hyaluronic acid, peptides, and more to nurture skin without any of the greasiness and heaviness. There’s a full review of this gel moisturiser here, if you want to read more!

Balm Moisturiser

Consider these as ultra-thick cream moisturisers. They have very little water content, and are almost solely made up of ingredients such as plant oils and butters. Balm moisturisers are basically life support for dry skin; they help to repair the moisture barrier and immediately stop hydration from leaving skin once applied!

The Beauty Affairs favourite is Murad Intense Recovery Cream. It has an incredibly thick texture that’s perfect for smoothing over the driest of skin. It’s also ideal for after skincare procedures that need a little bit of downtime!


Skincare oils can also be used as a moisturiser because of their emollient properties. Some products are created with just one oil, such as rose hip oil, while others are a blend of multiple oils to harness the different benefits they bring to skin. 

The reason that oils can be beneficial to dry skin is because they’re made up of essential fatty acids. These fatty acids nurture and smooth skin, and each oil has a different ratio. 

Oils also have the ability to lock in hydration, preventing it from evaporating away - another bonus reason to try oil as a moisturiser for dry skin. One of our favourites is INIKA Organic Phyto-Active Rosehip Oil. It features a base of rosehip oil with other moisturising ingredients such as hemp seed to deeply moisturise skin. 

Key Ingredients in Moisturisers for Dry Skin

Almost all skincare products feature a blend of these ingredient categories: humectants, occlusives, and emollients. They each have a different role to play in improving skin’s moisture levels - here’s what they are and common ingredients that fall into each category. 


Humectants are one of the most well-known moisturiser ingredients. First thing you need to know about them - they’re water-based, so they help to draw water into the skin. Most of them can attract multiple times their weight in water, instantly boosting hydration levels. 

Hyaluronic acid features in many moisturisers - it’s one of the most well-known humectant ingredients out there. Others include glycerin and panthenol. 


This category of skincare ingredient is also critical for dry skin. Occlusives act on skin by acting as a barrier between your skin and the outside world. Normally, the moisture barrier does an excellent job of this; but sometimes, skin needs a little help! 

Occlusives help to prevent water from evaporating away from your skin (and no, drinking water doesn’t fix this). Examples of these ingredients include petroleum jelly and papaw ointment - yes, the same ingredients in many lip balms!

Other examples of occlusives include shea butter, squalane, and argan oil. These three also have some overlap with the next ingredient category - the truth is, they have characteristics of both and that’s why they appear in many moisturisers!


Emollients are a skin-softening category of ingredient. They work by filling in the little cracks in your skin, making it feel nicer and look better. It works by forming a protective layer on the surface of your skin, which helps to keep moisture in and prevents your skin from drying out.

One of the most famous emollients are ceramides - these skincare ingredients are incredibly well-known for their skin-repairing properties, which is why they’re included in so many fantastic formulas. 

Key Points: Moisturisers for Dry Skin

Choosing the right moisturiser for dry skin takes careful consideration of the texture and ingredients of each moisturiser. While all are formulated to improve hydration of dry skin, each type of moisturiser has it’s own strengths and benefits for skin; for example, cream moisturisers are perfect for overnight moisture while gel formulas might be better suited for day time. 

As long as each product has the right blend of humectants, emollients, and occlusives, the right moisturiser for dry skin is only a click away! Shop moisturisers for dry skin at Beauty Affairs today and get your beauty affairs in order. 

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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