Face creams are the powerhouse of any skincare routine. Whether you’re a strong believer in a ten-step routine or have completely pared back your morning and evening skincare lineup, a face cream is almost always a non-negotiable. Face creams lock in moisture, repair your skin’s barrier, support your other complexion essentials, like serums and toners and are generally a helpful step in achieving your skincare goals—no matter what those are.
Face creams soften and moisturise your skin. Though there are sometimes subtle differences between a cream and a moisturiser, they’re typically used interchangeably and refer to the same thing: a thicker formula that’s applied at the end of your routine. Some face creams are a great fit for nearly every skin type but not all of them.
In order to create the best skincare routine possible, you certainly want one of the best face creams in your arsenal, but it needs to meet a few requirements according to your skin’s personal needs. We’ve found some of the best face creams available and put together a helpful buying guide to aid you in the selection process.
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Best face cream: At a glance
- Best overall face cream: Olay 24 Day Face Cream With SPF 30 | Buy now
- Best face cream for dry skin: Weleda Skin Food Original Cream | Buy now
- Best gel cream: Simple Water Boost Hydrating Gel Cream | Buy now
- Best splurge face cream: Drunk Elephant Lala Reto Whipped Cream | Buy now
How to choose the best face cream for you
Here are a few things to think about prior to purchasing a new face cream.
What types of face cream are available?
With the numerous options out there, a better question would be what kind of face creams aren’t available. Luckily, there are so many different formulas that all serve different skincare needs, including relieving dryness, minimising the appearance of fine lines or improving your skin’s texture.
The word “cream” can be deceiving, too. Face creams are available in a wide range of formats, from bouncy gels to liquefied lotions. Though face creams vary in what they’re mainly designed for, at the end of the day they all aim to serve a similar purpose: hydrating your skin.
What features should I look for in a good face cream?
Don’t be discouraged by a bad face cream experience or the overwhelming number of options available. Start with these main features and you’ll be on your way to finding a face cream that works perfectly for your complexion and lifestyle. We highlight each feature listed here in our short product reviews below.
Ingredients: It’s important to pay attention to what’s inside of the face cream you’re considering. Every formula varies and you may want to seek out specific ingredients depending on what you’d like your face cream to do. Perhaps you want a dewier complexion or you’d like to target dryness. Regardless, research what components are best for helping you reach your skincare goals. Be cautious of any allergies you have to any ingredients too and avoid them.
Skin types: Your skin type will largely influence what kind of face cream will be good for you. Oily skin types still need to be moisturised, but the best face creams for those complexions will be different from the face cream formulas suitable for dry and combination skin.
Concerns: Aside from your skin type, it’s smart to think about the skin concerns you typically face. If you’re looking to treat spots and acne, opt for a face cream that has ingredients that will support your skin health rather than exacerbate the issue. Mature skin will also have different needs, as will anyone with eczema, rosacea or psoriasis.
Time: Though it’s not as important as the rest, the time of day you need the face cream will also influence the best type of format and formulation. Night creams tend to be thicker than ones used during the day.
Discover a wide range of quality face creams that will complete your skincare routine and encourage hydrated and healthy skin.
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The best face cream to buy in 2022
1. Olay Collagen Peptide24 Day Face Cream With SPF 30: The best overall face cream
Price: £19 | Buy now from Boots
Collagen is a buzzword in the skincare industry. It’s a type of protein that our body produces naturally, but it does decline as we get older. To support your complexion as you age, a formula with collagen that can actually permeate the skin is a smart move, such as Olay’s daytime face cream. After two weeks of consistent use, this face cream from Olay is built to show a marked improvement in your skin. Though it’s designed for mature skin, it’s great for younger faces too as it helps to prevent signs of ageing.
Tired, dull and dry skin will find relief through this cream that restores dewiness with the help of collagen peptides and vitamin B3. Not only that, but it protects your face from UV rays as well. With its SPF 30, you can rely on this cream as a great daily sunscreen. Just be sure to reapply or use a strong waterproof formula if you’re spending time in the water or an extended period of time out in the sun.
Key details – Best for: Sun protection and anti-ageing; Featured ingredients: Collagen peptides and B3; Format: Cream
Buy now from Boots
2. Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream: The best face cream for dry skin
Price: £14 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Whilst it’s nearly impossible to find a face cream that works wonders for all skin types, we can personally attest that Weleda’s Skin Food comes pretty close. Its thick lotion glides onto skin and defeats the annoying – and oftentimes painful – effects that come with dryness, like flaking and tightness. It’s a perfect pick for winter weather and extremely dry skin types will find that it’s really suitable year round.
If the thick moisturiser is a bit too much for warmer months or oilier skin types, the brand has a light version that’s equally as effective. Fans of more natural and organic formulas will appreciate the composition of this particular face cream that can wipe out dehydration and irritation. What’s more, this isn’t just formulated for your face. Hands, feet and the rest of your body will benefit from its ingredients. Regardless, it’s still gentle (yet potent) enough to work as purely a facial moisturiser.
Key details – Best for: Excessively dry skin and all skin types; Featured ingredients: Chamomile, pansy, and calendula; Format: Thick cream
Buy now from Cult Beauty
3. Simple Water Boost Hydrating Gel Cream: The best gel cream
Price: £5 | Buy now from Boots
If your heart is set on a lighter weight consistency, it’s worth opting for a gel cream. Though these delicate formulas can sometimes be known to leave a greasy or sticky residue, they’re still reliable picks for deeply hydrating your skin, at least when it comes to Simple’s Water Boost Hydrating Gel Cream. The budget-friendly formula combats dryness caused by a wide range of factors, including pollution and stress, without leaving your complexion with too much moisture or oil.
It’s primarily concocted for dry skin, but sensitive skin types shouldn’t have any problems using it either as it’s free from strong, potentially irritating chemicals. As mentioned, it doesn’t have a heavy texture, so it perfectly serves the purpose of a good day cream, infusing the skin with plant extracts and minerals thus leading to supple and soft results. For something slightly thicker, there is even a night cream version.
Key details – Best for: Super dry skin; Featured ingredient: Plant probiotics; Format: Gel-cream combo
Buy now from Boots
4. Drunk Elephant Lala Reto Whipped Cream: The best high-end face cream
Price: £52 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Comfortable spending a little more on your face cream? Drunk Elephant is a fan-favourite brand for a reason and though it sits at a higher price than others, it pays off. Most of us love the feeling of a thick face cream but don’t enjoy anything that leaves our complexions feeling excessively greasy. The brand has found the perfect happy medium. The whipped cream feels lightweight in the hand and on the face but provides the same effects of a good thick facial moisturiser.
Inside the formula is a hearty mix of ingredients that are all superstars in their own ways. There are six oils featured, including hydrating marula oil, as well as vitamin C and fatty acids for soothing, nourishing and restoring the dewy, glowy skin that may have been hiding for some time.
Key details – Best for: Dull, dehydrated skin; Featured ingredient: Ceramides and a combination of oils; Format: Light, whipped cream
Buy now from Cult Beauty
5. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream: The best reparative face cream
Price: £14 | Buy now from Look Fantastic
Your complexion can go through phases and some days are better than others. For the times when you need major relief and aren’t sure how to troubleshoot irritated, upset skin, First Aid Beauty is a good starting place. It can be tough finding a cream that won’t worsen skincare issues (including atopic dermatitis and psoriasis), but this one fits the bill. It’s suitable for sensitive, acne-prone and dry skin types, helping to repair your skin’s barrier and get it back to where it once was.
Though it provides a burst of immediate moisture, it fortunately won’t cause greasy, oily residues or feel heavy on your face. It has a nice lineup of ingredients, including shea butter and ceramides, that are all destined for soothing and bringing instant relief. Depending on your skin concerns and usual behaviour, this can double as a day and night cream and be applied as often as your complexion needs.
Key details – Best for: Skin in need of tender loving care; Featured ingredients: Shea butter, eucalyptus, oatmeal and ceramides; Format: Cream
Buy now from Look Fantastic
6. Lumene Nordic C [Valo] Overnight Bright Sleeping Cream: The best night face cream
Price: £23 | Buy now from Look Fantastic
Your day cream is squared away, but what about the formula you lather on at night? Skin in need of extra hydration will find this cream from Lumene extremely supportive. Best for evening use, the ingredient list is chock-full of well-known components like hyaluronic acid, as well as more unique bits like cloudberry seed extract. It also features the classic fan-favourite vitamin C. Altogether, it heals your face overnight and aims to heal and nourish your skin’s barrier.
Vitamin C is renowned for its ability to break you out of dullness spells and help with skin tone and appearance. It promotes radiant, dewy skin and will work hard to contribute to a smoother, healthier-looking complexion while you sleep. Despite its thicker consistency, many shoppers with oily and acne-prone skin types were able to handle it just fine though everybody is different—just test to see what’s best for you.
Key details – Best for: Overnight repairs and dry skin; Featured ingredient: Vitamin C, cloudberry seed extract, hyaluronic acid and Arctic spring water; Format: Thick cream
Buy now from Look Fantastic