Finding a face cream in winter for dry, sore and sensitive skin can be tricky. The ideal cream hydrates while providing a solid base for foundation, but these can be hard to come by. As many with sensitive skin will know, an unsuitable face cream can cause burning rashes and irritation, as well as dry, peeling skin and a nasty bout of eczema. So, to save you the hassle of searching high and low, we’ve rounded up creams that won’t lead to a flare-up. We tested these over a three-day period, to give time for them to work and an incubation period to see if any delayed reaction occurred.
1. Garnier Moisture Bomb 3-in-1 Day Cream: £7.99 for 50ml, Boots
With pomegranate extract, this great-value cream soothes sore skin and provides an injection of moisture that lasts the entire day. The cream is scentless, which will come as a relief to those whose skin often reacts to perfumed creams. However, this cream isn’t suitable for those with combination or oily skin – it is designed for maximum hydration, so should only be used on the specific dry areas.
2. Estée Lauder Hydrationist Maximum Moisture Crème for Dry Skin: £33.30 for 50ml, John Lewis
As with most Estée Lauder products, this cream does what it says on the tin: provides maximum moisturisation. The cream is very thick – too thick for all-over use on combination skin, so for these skin types, only apply on very dry areas (next to eyebrows, cheeks – keep away from the T-zone). It sinks in quickly, leaving your skin feeling silky.
3. Elemis Hydra-Boost Sensitive Day Cream: £35.10 for 50ml, John Lewis
This one is very light, which means it sinks in quickly – ideal for applying just before foundation in the morning. Although that lightness does mean you do need to apply more cream each time than you would others. It has a strong scent of aromatherapy oils – it includes orange blossom that soothes inflammation, also adding a touch of luxury. We think this one would be best for sensitive combination skin.
4. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Fluid: £17.50 for 40ml, Feel Unique
This works well applied at night – we slapped some on before bed and woke up to zero dryness. It is very silky and moisturising without leaving residue on your skin, and it lasts all day without affecting foundation. It is “high tolerance” too, meaning it has been tested on extremely easily irritated skin, so there’s very little chance of a reaction – we found it lived up to that promise.
5. Eau Thermale Avene Hydrance Optimale: £16.50 for 40ml, Escentual
French brand Avene is renowned for its sensitive skin-friendly products, and it did not disappoint with this tinted day cream. Not only does it soothe sensitive skin, but the tint negates the need to wear foundation, providing skin with a welcome break from excess make-up. Enriched with Avene spring water, it is scentless. The coverage was thicker than we expected – it covered blemishes and redness, but this might be one you want to test before you buy.
6. Origins Dr Weil Mega Mushroom Skin Relief: £50 for 50ml, Look Fantastic
We were slightly apprehensive about putting mushroom cream on our face at first, but the results were fantastic. The product feels like it is halfway between an essential oil and a face cream, and provided optimum moisturisation on dry patches. It isn’t very heavy, so would be suitable for combination or oily skin, too. The smell is a bit interesting (as you would expect from a mushroom-based cream – the best way to describe the scent would be “savoury”) but you get used to it after a while. You only need a small amount for maximum coverage, and the price is primarily due to the large amount of oils present in the ingredients, including ginger, jojoba, patchouli, mandarin, olive and heather.
7. Aveeno Cream with Natural Colloidal Oatmeal: £7.29 for 100ml, Boots
In addition to putting this cream all over our sore face, we also used it on our legs and arms (which is doable, considering that the tube provides 100ml of product). It goes to work on tough and sore skin and eczema – once on, it diffuses into what feels like oil, and sinks in after about a minute or so. This is one for those with exceptionally dry skin, as the oil-like consistency once on the skin could wreak havoc on an oily T-zone.
8. Clarins Gentle Day Cream: £40 for 50ml, John Lewis
This gentle day cream provides optimum moisturisation and minimal reside. It is ideal for preparing skin before a make-up routine, and lasts all day long. It sinks in quickly, and the offering is generous – we think it would last you all winter, as only a small amount is needed, and the cream is thick. It blends well and soothes dry, irritated skin. It’s good on all skin types, even oily.
The Verdict: Face creams for sensitive skins
None of the products that made this list irritated our skin. All would be suitable for sensitive skin and varying skin types. For all-round good-value, Garnier’s Moisture Bomb does an admirable job, without the price tag. If you have more to spend, we recommend Estee Lauder’s luxurious-feeling Hydrationist, it isn’t cheap but a little goes a long way so it will last you.
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