With thousands of different moisturisers on the market, it's hard to know where to start when it comes to choosing one to suit your skin.
A good skin-care regimen includes daily moisturising and sun protection to fight free radicals and fend off ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. The most effective way is moisturising after cleansing and toning so that your still-damp skin will seal in moisture.
It’s important to know your skin type to make sure you’re putting the right products on your face. Very dry skin probably won’t benefit from a water-based product; drier skin will appreciate heavier moisturizers to soak up as much moisture as possible.
Choosing the right products starts with knowing what you're trying to achieve with it. All skins benefit from a moisturiser, even oily or acne-prone skin. Oily skins simply need a more lightweight, oil-free formula. Drier skin types will usually benefit from a richer, denser cream. If you have sensitive skin, you'll need to seek out uncomplicated formulas that are fragrance-free. If you have dehydrated skin you want to seek out products containing humectants (hyaluronic acid or glycerin, for example), which trap moisture on the skin. If you have either normal or combination skin, start with all-round moisturisers designed to do a little bit of everything and judge from there.
Make a Decision on Anti-aging
"Anti-aging" is often more about branding and marketing rather than any huge difference in ingredients. To an extent, moisturiser is moisturiser, whether you're 20 or 70. There are specific ingredients that are popular for antiageing, but even they can be beneficial to other people too. Retinol, for example, works on wrinkles because it helps to resurface the skin: this can be just as useful for those with acne scarring. In many ways, it's never too early to use antiageing products; just be aware that those formulated for mature skins (which tend to be drier) may be too rich for many younger skin types.
Decide If You Want Any Additional Benefits
If you're planning to wear your moisturiser during the day, you may want to ensure it has a broad-spectrum SPF built in for some level of daily protection from the damaging and ageing effects of the sun. Maybe you're looking for a tinted moisturiser so you can skip foundation? Perhaps you simply can't be doing with a day and night cream, and you want a suits-all formula you can use for both. Identify this before you go any further, as it means you can rule out anything without those extras.
Make Your Choice: Science or Nature?
Ideally, the best brands harness the best of both worlds, combining active natural ingredients with extensive research and scientific breakthroughs. But in truth, most of them market their products one way or the other. Now is the time to decide which is for you. Are you more interested in natural ingredients, essential oils, and recycled packaging, or do you want to embrace the science? How you feel about this may help you narrow down your options to specific brands. You'll also need to consider your ethics: does your choice need to be soil association approved and have the leaping bunny symbol to show its cruelty free?
Give It a Fair Trial
It's tempting to just collect a load of samples and try them all before committing to a product, but this isn't always the best way because you'll never be able to use a sample for long enough to make a real decision. By all means, take some samples home to test the scent and texture, but don't expect to get much more from a few days of testing. If you've found something that's within your budget, it meets your requirements, and you like the smell and texture and the way your skin feels after you apply it, just go ahead and buy it! You won't really know how well a product truly suits your skin until you've used it for a month or so. Assuming you haven't had an allergic reaction or very strong flare-up, persevere and see how your skin feels once it's had time to go through its full regeneration cycle (about four to six weeks).
If you're really struggling to understand your skin's needs, consider making an appointment with a dermatologist. Though that will come at a cost, their expert recommendations could save you from buying dozens of moisturisers that aren't right for your skin.