For those who have suffered from eczema, moisturiser is like oxygen, as essential as toothpaste or socks. The dry and flaky skin this condition creates can not only make you feel self-conscious but also uncomfortable, itchy and irritated – both physically and mentally. Therefore, finding a product that soothes, repairs and heals is essential.
Eczema breaks down the skin’s natural barrier, making it less able to regulate its own moisture levels. Therefore, the skin needs to be continuously hydrated to help protect it. This is where moisturisers come in, as they work to replace the natural oils the skin is struggling to produce, and form a protective layer on top, to make sure they stay inside.
When looking for a moisturiser, ingredients to look out for vary depending on what your skin needs – we found that oats, borage seed oil and rose water always work wonders. For this reason, we’d also recommend testing out pure ingredients – The Ordinary has a great range of pure pressed oils – to see what your skin likes. Additionally, if you have particularly sensitive skin that is prone to flare-ups, we would suggest patch testing any new product before going for broader application.
We used each product twice a day for roughly three days to give it a good shot at working its magic. In the short term, we found that many of the products below reduced redness and increased skin elasticity, and some even healed sore skin to a point where it looked and felt pretty close to “normal”.
Of course, the experience of putting on the lotion, cream or balm is important too – if it’s not pleasant or feels like a chore, you’re less likely to spend time slathering it on. The texture is extremely important here: too thick and it’ll sit on top of the skin like a waxy coating, but too thin and it’ll be absorbed and gone in a flash.
We also considered scent, as many products designed for sensitive skin leave out unnecessary fragrance to avoid irritation. On the one hand, it’s a treat to find a deliciously scented lotion suitable for eczema, but on the other, you don’t want anything too overpowering.
While different remedies work for different skin types, we think we’ve found something to soothe the mildest to the most severe eczema.
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Bria Organics relief repair replenish skin cream
Described as “highly moisturising” this intensely rich cream seriously delivers. With the texture of whipped butter, it is a supremely oily mousse that manages to pack in borage seed oil, jojoba seed oil, rosehip fruit oil, sunflower oil, chickweed extract, and of course, shea butter. Oh and some vitamin E, too. And that’s literally the entire ingredients list. Nothing but intensely nourishing natural ingredients your skin is crying out for.
This is no lotion and it does sit on the skin – as any oil would – for a period of time as it is absorbed. However, we found this comfortable and it felt like slow-release nourishment. We found it a perfect night treatment for the face and driest patches of skin to keep them supple. We also loved the Bria Organics relief repair replenish balm which is even richer – though we’re baffled how this is achieved – and is perfect for smoothing on to dry eyelids, lips or chapped elbows.
Aveeno daily moisturising lotion
There’s a good reason Aveeno’s daily moisturising lotion has been called a gamechanger. First and foremost: it truly works. While many creams and lotions we reviewed soothed, calmed and reduced the itchiness of eczema, few were able to actually reduce or even heal sore skin like this lotion. On top of that, it’s so purse-friendly that you’ll never have to ration yourself when it comes to application – you could fill a bath with the stuff and it wouldn’t break the bank. A creamy and shiny formula, Aveeno’s daily moisturising lotion becomes translucent when spread over the skin and absorbs quickly, leaving skin feeling slightly damp for around a minute, then supple and soft. Though it’s labelled unscented, our tester found it had a sweet almond smell.
Pai Skincare polly plum calendula and jojoba comforting body cream
Of all the moisturisers we tested, this was our favourite when it came to scent. Soothing calendula – a member of the daisy family – and jojoba combine for a rich floral scent, perfectly complemented by Pai’s camellia and bergamot body wash. Moisturisers designed for dry skin can often be medicinal or sterile-smelling, so this was such a treat. This lotion went on particularly well after a shower; otherwise, it felt a little heavy, leaving the skin slightly waxy – but highly moisturised – for a substantial amount of time after use. We also loved the pretty, easy-to-squeeze tube, and beautiful packaging in tissue paper. If you want a lovely product that feels high end (rather than like a pharmaceutical “treatment”), Polly Plum is for you.
Balmonds skin salvation
You’ll want to warm this waxy balm between your fingers before applying, and our tester was initially daunted by its hardness during a particularly cold week of testing in February. That said, once melted between your fingertips, this balm quenches thirsty skin perfectly. Like other moisturisers for eczema we reviewed, this 100 per cent natural formula contains primary ingredients of olive fruit oil and beeswax, but also includes less mainstream ingredients including hemp and safflower oil, as well as nettle and chamomile extract, all of which have a long history of being used to soothe eczema in herbal medicine. We found its smell not unpleasant exactly, but it reminded our tester of a greenhouse full of luscious green plants. Balmonds says that it is suitable for babies from six weeks, and can be used on all areas of the body.
Kiehl’s Crème de corps body moisturiser
Despite this moisturiser not being marketed at specifically dry or eczema-prone skin, we had read rave reviews from people with eczema. The light, slightly sticky pale yellow lotion absorbed quickly into our tester’s skin with minimal manual labour, making it a good option before getting dressed or during the day. We loved the smell of shea butter and the wide array of oils – sesame seed, olive fruit, apricot kernel, sweet almond and sunflower – packed into this bottle. On its signature word-heavy packaging, Keihl’s promises to deliver “elegant skin texture” and while we’re not too sure what this means exactly, we sure did like it. Our only gripe was the tiny opening to squeeze out the product, which led to a misshapen bottle sat on our tester’s dresser.
Medik8 smooth body exfoliating kit
Gentle exfoliators for dry and sensitive skin are few and far between so we were thrilled to try this duo from Medik8. We found the exfoliator perfect for drier, slightly scaly bits of skin such as on arms or legs that needed gentle buffing in the shower, aided by the textured mitt, which worked wonders. Medik8 recommend putting its exfoliator onto dry skin then buffing it off in the shower, though our tester found this slightly harsh and preferred it on damp skin. The product has the texture of fine sand and, while gentle, should not be used on broken skin, so is best for mild eczema sufferers only. Therefore, we steered clear of more delicate patches of skin, such as the flexor surfaces (inside of elbows, back of knees) and face. The retexturing AHA exfoliating lotion had the longest list of ingredients of all the moisturisers we tested, but also some that weren’t found in any other products. Such ingredients are urea – which breaks down the protein keratin in the outer layer of skin, and mild AHA’s (alpha-hydroxy acids) lactic acid and salicylic acid. While we were slightly nervous to use such potent ingredients, our testers’ skin loved them and, true to Medik8’s sell, felt totally renewed and retextured, with an incredibly soft surface. Remember, after applying AHAs to the skin, it is essential to wear sunscreen for at least a week.
Lush dream cream body lotion
Oat milk is the number one ingredient in this luscious lotion, designed to be slathered liberally across your whole body, so naturally, we were big fans. After a week of daily full-body application, our 240g tub was only a quarter reduced and we doubt you’d use it up too far ahead of its two-month expiry date. With other primary ingredients including rose water, organic extra virgin olive oil, and cocoa butter, this lotion balances richness with a fast absorbency leaving skin supple for hours afterwards.
We found that immediately after application, our dry skin felt deeply moisturise and remained soft for at least 12 hours. Cracked and sore skin started healing and didn’t itch as much. We weren’t major fans of the scent – it’s earthy and almost salty, and could overpower more subtle perfumes – but it could appeal to those who prefer less traditionally feminine fragrances. It’s also important to note Lush’s ethical credentials here. Once you find your dream moisturiser (see what we did there), it’ll be a relationship for life, so the brand’s pot recycling scheme bags this cream extra points.
La Roche- Posay Lipikar Baume AP+M
We’ve long had French skin-care brand La Roche-Posay on our radar, so we just had to try its newly formulated Lipikar Baume AP+M, updated with some new ingredients. Microresyl and aqua posae filiformis limit the growth and over-proliferation of staph (Staphylococcus aureus), a usually harmless bacteria that lives on the skin. Those with eczema do not produce enough natural antibiotics to fight staph, resulting in an abundance of this natural bacteria, which can cause skin flare-ups. And that’s where the staph-fighting Lipikar Baume AP+M comes in.
This was one of the densest lotions we tried, with our tester really having to put some welly in to get it rubbed in. On application, this shifted some dead skin cells – not a good choice before getting into clean sheets – but a positive result in achieving softer, smoother skin. While it did feel a little tingly used on the face, the Lipikar Baume AP+M left our tester’s torso feeling well moisturised long after application. We were also impressed by value here, the sizeable 400ml pump lasts a long time, particularly given the density of the baume, meaning a little goes a long way.
Dermalogica calm water gel
Our most expensive moisturiser per ml, we had high expectations of this popular brand with a cult-like following. When first squeezed out of its little bottle, this partially translucent white gel feels so thin and watery we were perplexed at what good it could possibly achieve. Don’t be fooled, though: it is transformed into a soft, weightless barrier that secures moisturiser inside once rubbed into the skin. Refreshing and cooling, this is a unique formula that felt immensely calming to apply. A pea-sized amount was ample to cover our tester’s entire face and neck – always remember the neck, folks. It’s ideal for locking in moisture under a drying foundation or against pollution.
CeraVe Facial moisturising lotion AM , SPF 25
TikTok users have raved about CeraVe products for their results and accessibility, and its somewhat sterile-looking formulas are shaking up the beauty world. After CeraVe’s SA smoothing cleanser with salicylic acid cleared up our editor’s acne in two weeks, we had to find out if there was a miracle product in the range for those of us with eczema. First of all, we loved the utility-focused packaging of this face cream – it’s easy to pump out exactly the right amount, and the soft bottle means you’ll get out every last drop. SPF can sometimes feel prickly on raw, inflamed skin, yet this went on with absolutely no irritation, even around the eyes. SPF is essential for all skin types, but particularly for delicate skin and if you’ve been using AHA’s, such as those found in the Medik8 smooth body exfoliator kit. While our tester didn’t find that this lotion made a huge difference in reducing redness or healing eczema, it’s a great option to ensure sensitive skin is protected from the sun without exacerbating irritation.
Apothe.co intensive honey and oatmeal moisturiser
This delightful little pot of honey and oatmeal moisturiser is designed for the face, and we’d hope so too because 60ml isn’t going to get you too far anywhere else. With anti-bacterial and hydrating honey, anti-inflammatory pomegranate extract, and that golden ticket ingredient of oatmeal, this very gentle lotion felt delicious to apply. Possibly due to its packaging in an amber glass jar – which looked lovely in our bathroom cabinet, might we add – this delicate lotion always felt cool to the touch, and soothed redness and irritation around our tester’s dry eyes. If you’re looking to treat an eczema-suffering loved one, look no further.
The Verdict: Moisturisers for eczema
For simplicity, potency and quality of ingredients, we awarded our Best Buy to Bria Organic’s relief repair replenish skin cream, which felt like a deep treatment for the sorest, most flakey patches of skin, which were noticeably improved after just a few days of use. If you’re looking for something for your entire body, we’d recommend Aveeno’s daily moisturising lotion for its delicious smell and value.
We were also blown away by Medik8’s smooth body exfoliating kit. In our tester’s 27 years of managing eczema, no product has achieved such dramatically smoothing results after just one application. However, we would only recommend this to friends with mild eczema and remember that sunscreen is essential for a week afterwards.
For more products that are kind to your skin, read our review of the 10 best moisturisers for sensitive skin
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