When it comes to finding a cheap moisturiser at £15 or under that pays dividends, we’ve got you covered
When the weather bites and the very expensive central heating saps any remaining water in your skin, a decent moisturiser is non-negotiable. With so many extortionate face creams crowding virtual shelves, you may feel obliged to part with a small fortune, but that’s not actually necessary, a cheap moisturiser
Any moisturiser worth its salt has three major types of ingredients:
- Humectants such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid to pull in water from the atmosphere
- Emollients or lipids (ceramides, fatty acids and more) that soften the skin surface and maintain a healthy skin barrier that efficiently locks in moisture
- Occlusives such as shea butter and mineral oil that form a temporary film to seal in water, giving compromised skin barriers a helping hand.
None of these ingredients are rare or revolutionary, so an ‘emulsion’ - ie a lotion or cream - that’s made up of them needn’t be expensive at all.
In fact, a 2018 study showed a decent moisturiser can cost under a fiver. Nivea Soft Moisturising Cream (now £5.49) outperformed Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, £25 at five times the price. Inflation since then may have increased the average price of a cheap moisturiser, but plenty of very good ones still cost less than £15, and there is one to suit every taste and skin type, whether you need a moisturiser for oily skin, combination skin, sensitive skin, or anything else.
To find the right one for you, it’s good to know whether you skin is primarily dry or dehydrated; this will determine how rich (or not) in oils and occlusives you want your formula to be. From there, it’s up to you to decide whether you like fragrance, natural ingredients, a vegan formula…. It’s all available on a budget. Below we have listed the best on the market right now at £15 or less.
Best cheap moisturiser for very dry, eczema-prone skin: La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5, £15 for 100ml
If dry conditions really cause you skin to suffer (cracking, red-raw patches, itching…) look no further than this ‘liquid plaster’ balm-cream. It’s very rich, sealing skin with shea butter and silicones, so probably not right if your skin is oily or congestion-prone. For everyone else (and particularly genetically dry skins), this will not only hydrate, soften and comfort, it will help heal damage and rawness in just a few applications. Full of anti-inflammatories such as madecassoside and panthenol and hydrating, wound-healing zinc gluconate, the formula has just been updated with skin-strengthening probiotics and we can assure you it works for face as well as sore, cracked body skin.
Best moisturiser for dehydrated skin: Revolution X Sali Hughes Gel Quench Light Anytime Moisturiser, £14 for 60ml
An airy cream-gel with a very silky finish that sets smoothly to make a great makeup base, it has light oils, glycerin, niacinamide and peptides to quench thirsty skin without overloading or congesting it. Great for oily yet dehydrated skins (yes, that happens a lot) or sticky conditions where you just want refreshing hydration. The light, evanescent scent reminds some of us at GTG of Nivea cream and other of Chanel No5, go figure…
Best cheap moisturiser for sensitive skin: Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Moisturizer, £14.50 for 88ml
A thin, quick-absorbing lotion with an almost watery feel, it’s high in humectants and low on oils so will suit oilier skins and anyone who hates the feel of a heavy cream. It’s unscented and unglamorous, but it’s a great long-lasting hydrator that won’t upset any skins you can share with your other half or the whole family.
Best cheap moisturiser for combination skin: Elf Holy Hydration Face Cream Fragrance Free, £12 for 50ml
With a sort of equal balance of oils and watery ingredients, this is a lightish cream-lotion that’s more hydrating than it might appear, and a favourite of GTG’s Victoria’s teen daughter. It has niacinamide and peptides so it will help balance oily patches and work on discolouration and even wrinkles, so it’s a winner for her mum as well. This is the unscented version; the scented one isn’t overly perfumed either.
Best cheap moisturiser for oily skin: Skin Proud Sorbet Skin Everyday Jelly Moisturiser, £13.95 for 50ml
A fresh jelly with a fruity-sweet scent that feels like a bit of a treat, this has no oils at all but lots of humectants (to attract water) and silicones (to lock in the water) instead, making it a good choice for oily skin. Teens love this, and so do fans of water-like textures.
Best cheap all-purpose moisturiser: Cerave Moisturising Lotion, £11 for 236ml
Cerave has great cheap facial moisturisers as well (we love the Cerave Facial Moisturising Lotion SPF50, for normal to dry skin £11.86) but if you want very effective (and clinically proven) moisturisation for face and body at a really good price, try this generous bottle of light, silky, fast-absorbing lotion. Its skin-barrier-building complex of fatty acids, cholesterol and three ceramides is what sets it apart from more bog-standard creams, as it actually helps skin become less dryness-prone. How is it different from the basic Cerave Facial Moisturising Lotion, £12 for 50ml? The latter has the addition of skin-balancing niacinamide and has fewer occlusive, so is better if your skin is oily, but this is a great buy (you get five times as much) for everyone else.
Best cheap and vegan moisturiser for ageing skin: B. by Superdrug Protect Defence Sun Cream SPF50, £14.99 for 50ml
A light-feeling lotion made up of humectants and light oils and waxes, it disappears into skin which makes it great for top-ups during the day. Which is perfect as this has age-fighting powerhouse SPF50, which should be topped up regularly. There’s also skin-loving vitamin E, so this is a great age-busting basic moisturiser that’s vegan, cruelty-free and sustainably packaged to boot.
Best cheap moisturiser for blotchy skin: The Elements Skin Balancing Cream, £9 for 50ml
High in azelaic acid which is brightening, calming and anti-bacterial, this will tackle pimples as well as age spots and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. So: great for teens as well as menopausal breakouts, and also for those with dark skins concerned about post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The texture is sort of dry and thick (azelaic acid-rich products tend to be) yet-light-feeling with a matte finish, but seed oils make it an efficient moisturiser. It offers protection as well, thanks to a host of anti-oxidants.
Best cheap moisturiser for natural skincare-aficionados: Weleda Skin Food Light, £13.50 for 75ml
Packed full of seed oils, butters and waxes, this rich lotion-cream is not one for oily skins despite its texture being a lot lighter than the original Skin Food cream. A long-standing favourite of make-up artists to bring a glow to parched model skins, it’s supremely nourishing but one to avoid if you’re sensitive to fragrance. Responsibly sourced and packaged and with no synthetic ingredients, it’s the most planet-friendly option of the lot.
Best-value cheap moisturiser: Creightons H2O Boost Hyaluronic Day Gel, £5.69 for 50ml
Proving that quenching, lasting moisture can be truly affordable, this fresh, weightless gel doesn’t just disappear into skin but leaves a silky finish that gives an all-day moisturised feel, even in parched conditions. It has light lipids and lots of glycerin, plus a host of other humectants to really suck in that water, including marine algae extracts known to help quench as well as support elasticity. The water-fresh scent is quite noticeable, so do make sure that’s not something that will irritate your skin.
Best cheap multi-purpose moisturiser: Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré, £13 for 30ml
A ‘cult’ cream loved by makeup artist for its primer-like, velvety-smooth finish, this is a sort of liquid cold cream and can therefore also double up as a cream cleanser. High in mineral oil and waxes (like any cold cream), its lotion texture belies its richness, so beware if your skin is oily. Despite being touted as a ‘calming skin treatment’, it’s scented, so it won’t be calming to all skins. A perfect three-in-one for travelling too.
Best cheap tinted moisturiser for dry skin: Nivea Tinted Day Cream SPF15 24H Moisture, £4.19 for 50ml
A rich basic moisturiser with skin-conditioning vitamin E, it has a gentle tint that gives pale skin a healthy radiance and makes it look more even. There’s an SPF15 too for anti-ageing protection that’s relatively sufficient during the winter months. If you like the texture and the scent, why pay more?