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Skin

The 12 best gel moisturisers for lightweight hydration in the heat

July 30th 2020 / Melanie Macleod / 0 comment

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Because a rich cream is just too much in the hot weather

Just like we swap our winter wardrobes for summer attire, we also swap our skincare during the sunnier seasons. With a heatwave pending (hooray) it’s time for rich cream moisturisers to take a backseat and make way for their summer counterparts, gel moisturisers.

Lightweight, hydrating and cooling, gel moisturisers I'd always imagined gel moisturisers were best suited to younger skin that didn't need such a powerful moisturising punch, but I stand corrected. "As we age, evaporation of water through the skin increases and we find that tightness and dryness increase over time. Gel technology allows for a sustained-release hydration approach to skincare," says Dr Murad. "By combining nutrients, minerals and peptides that repair and strengthen the skin barrier, the skin is more able to lock-in and retain hydration at the surface. "Gel textures in skincare are weightless, fast-absorbing formulas, and still exceptionally hydrating. They also provide much longer-term hydration compared to traditional moisturisers."

"Usually gel textures contain no or low amount of oils which makes them especially good for oily and combination skin," says Kristofer Vänttinen, research and development manager for Finnish skincare brand Lumene.

For a cold drink of water on a hot day feeling for your skin, here are the gel moisturisers we turn to when the temperature soars.

Best for subtle shimmer

Origins Ginzing Glow-Boosting Gel Moisturizer, £26.50 for 50ml

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This year Origins reformulated the cult Ginzing moisturiser with the addition of an ultra-fine shimmer for a natural-looking glow that suits all skin types. Ingredients include coffee beans and ginseng for energised, wide awake looking skin while the pearly sheen comes courtesy of illuminating minerals. it has a very subtle orange scent - think Orangina and you’ll be along the right lines.

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Best oil-free gel moisturiser

Lumene Nordic Hydra Fresh Moisture 24hr Water Gel, £17.90 for 50ml

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Applying this genuinely feels like dousing your face with a burst of cool water; it's refreshing and hydrating with a slight cucumber scent. It’s the first oil-free moisturiser from our fave Scandi brand and it leaves parched complexions shine-free and supple. A powerhouse of Scandi ingredients, this formula includes pure arctic spring water and cloudberry waters as well as birch sap, nordic algae and hyaluronic acid.

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Best gel moisturiser with SPF

Clinique Superdefense SPF 40 Fatigue + 1st Signs of Age Multi-Correcting Gel, £32 for 50ml

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The name is a mouthful, but this goes on so silky soft so we can forgive it. As well as sun protection, it delivers 12 hours of moisture to keep you from looking fatigued plus it uses anti-oxidant vitamin E to protect skin from free radical damages.

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Best gel moisturiser for older skin

Murad Nutrient Charged Water Gel, £50 for 50ml

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Enriched with five vitamins, five minerals and five peptides to minimise dryness and strengthen skin’s barrier, this pretty pink water-light gel hydrates the skin by locking in moisture and helping the skin to retain it thanks to an improved skin barrier.

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Best for serious hydration

Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream, £60 for 50ml

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If you’re looking for a hard-working thirst-quencher for your skin you need look no further. As well as being seriously hydrating this also brightens hyperpigmentation. It’s a joy to apply to dry skin which drinks it in immediately; it’s cooling in the morning and sumptuously softening at night time.

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Best for young skin

Glow Hub Hydrating Peach & Coconut Gel Moisturiser, £11 for 50ml

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This has a firm jelly texture, wobbly to the touch and fun to apply. This is peach scented so not for everyone, but we find it pleasing to the nose, plus it doesn’t linger for too long once it’s on your skin. It contains peach extract and coconut water to refresh dehydrated skin and while it doesn’t feel as nourishing as some of the others in this lineup, it’s great for young skin that needs a dose of hydration day to day.

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Best for long-lasting hydration

Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, £37 for 50ml

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A pleasure to apply, this clever gel helps skin create its own water source by using caffeine to kick start the skin’s water pump, while aloe vera, humectants and hyaluronic acid attract and lock in moisture to keep skin dewy for up to 72 hours. It’s so addictive you’ll want to use it morning and night so it won’t actually have to last 72 hours, but good to know all the same.

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Best for instant cooling

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, £26 for 50ml

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Designed for normal to oily skin types this is non-greasy gel absorbs quickly and instantly cools the face upon application. The hydration stays long after the chilled feel has worn off thanks to marine ingredient antarcticine which increases elasticity and keeps skin looking plump.

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Best for lightweight moisture

Skin Proud Sorbet Burst Hyaluronic Acid Jelly Moisturiser, £13.99 for 50ml

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Just reading the name of this quenches our thirst. The lightweight gel locks in moisture for dewy, glowing skin thanks to hyaluronic acid while rose flower cools. Don't be put off by the name sorbet, this doesn't smell sweet at all, in fact the scent is almost undetectable.

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Best for inflamed skin

Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturiser, £44 for 30ml

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All of Bioassance’s products call on the power of squalane for natural-feeling moisturisation. It has emollient characteristics to lightly coat the surface of the skin and soften and smooth it without irritation or leaving a greasy residue. This restores balance to inflamed skin and strengthens the skin’s natural barrier.

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Best for brightening skin

Ole's C-Rush Brightening Gel Crème, £36 for 50ml

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We first fell in love with it for its citrus scent, reminiscent of orange Starburst sweets, but now we love it just as much for its ability to banish signs of fatigue in the skin. The peach-tinted gel illuminates the complexion thanks to three vitamin C sources known for their antioxidant powers. Two of the sources are light and air-stable, so don't worry about destabilising the formula - Ole has thought of everything.

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Best for dolphin skin

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturiser, £19.50 for 20ml

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Watermelon is popping up all over the place in skincare thanks to its medley of restoring vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. This gel-like formula helps you achieve that coveted dewy dolphin skin look that’s all over Instagram, all the while soothing irritated skin and providing the perfect base to layer makeup up on top of. We love the wobbly glass packaging too.

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MORE GLOSS: Do we actually need to keep our skincare in a fridge?

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