Day creams are the knickers of the beauty world. Something we put on every morning, pretty much like clockwork. But of course, they’re not all created equal – some are your M&S briefs, others your Agent Provacateur luxury frillies... Nowadays, some offer SPF protection, shielding effects against pollution (and even ‘blue light’ from computers, in some cases) – while others simply offer a good skin drink. Personally, what we want from a day cream is a sense of comfort, an ease of application – and a good canvas for make-up. With these trials, we always pick testers whose complexions are ‘matched’ to the products – to give them the best possible chance of success. No true beauty steals in this category, alas – although the Avène (which also won Gold last year) won’t break the bank. (Do scroll down for some more great creams, BTW – loads did REALLY well in 2019.)
GOLD (JOINT) & BEAUTY STEAL AWARD Avène Hydrance Light Hydrating Emulsion
A really good all-rounder, was the verdict of our testers. (Although not quite moisturising enough in the depths of winter, some commented, when the central heating’s ramped right up.) This is at the lighter end of the moisturiser spectrum, however – but a great choice for the many of you out there with combination skins as it has a mattifying effect via ‘sebo-absorbing microspheres’. Like all of the Avène range, it features their soothing Thermal Spring Water; we know the range to be particularly well-tolerated by touchy skins.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘Very happy with this product for my dry sensitive skin. It’s a lovely light hydrating cream and my skin felt nourished and hydrated, soft and calm almost immediately. It sinks in quickly and my make-up went on smoothly and I had no dry patches. I would definitely buy this’ • ‘I liked how my skin felt it was moisturised and hydrated yet didn't feel greasy to the touch immediately after using it. I have found that some non-greasy moisturisers or matte creams don't give the comforting feeling that a thick cream can, but this product did that. I liked the fresh lightly floral fragrance’ • ‘After trialling this light fluffy cream my skin looks and nice and smooth and hydrated. It’s easy to apply and a good size for a travel bag’ • ‘This light fluid cream went on very smoothly and easily, and felt lovely on my face. My skin felt soft and moisturised. For me it feels slightly richer than the name. It was a little over-moisturising for me when used for a period of time but a lovely product nevertheless’ • ‘The first 24 hours of use left my skin looking plumped, soft and healthy. I loved how my skin didn't look mattified or greasy, but just like a baby's complexion. I tried it on one side of my face and this side looked and felt as if it was taking the cream into the skin rather than leaving it on the top. I was delighted with how my make-up went on and seemed to adhere to the skin much more. After using for a while I think my criss-cross lines look fainter and the deeper lines less noticeable. I loved that I was able to apply this cream over my eyes without them puffing up; it really helped the fine crows feet too’ • ‘This is an ideal summertime moisturiser for me as it sinks in beautifully and never makes my face shiny. It’s very reasonably priced too.'
£13.50 for 40ml - click to buy
GOLD AWARD (JOINT) BeautyLab Skin Perfecting Moisture Cream
Originally created (in London) for celebrity facialists, and now available at a network of salons and stores globally, the BeautyLab range now features over 130 different products which as they put it, employ 'cutting edge skincare science, integrated with smart technology; sophisticated products abundant in natural actives, oils, gemstones, peptides and proteins to work in synergy with skin.' In the case of this tall, pump-delivered deeply hydrating cream, suitable for dry and ageing skins, ingredients include 'anti-ageing tripeptide microspheres', hyaluronic acid and vitamin A, along with liquid white diamond (which they tell us has 'thermal, electromagnetic properties', and ruby 'for its high energy and promotional healing'. Leaving the hyperbole aside, testers did find it a bit of a gem.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘Within 24 hours my skin was brighter and smoother with a tighter texture and a lovely glow. It sinks in immediately. With regular use I do feel it has tightened my skin, and for sure its brighter, tighter, more radiant, smoother – all over gorgeous. I have had many comments over the last few months about how well my skin looks. I love this product, everything about it from the packaging, to the texture, to the application - it really is a wonderful product. The only criticism I have is that if it came into contact with my eyes, it left them feeling tingly!’ • ‘This cream is very quickly absorbed and has a mattifying effect on my skin. It does a good job of plumping and hydrating skin. My face now looks smoother and more even toned. A taxi driver said I didn't look my age! For me, this was a gradual relationship rather than an instant love in. After using for a week I notice my skin was looking smoother and better hydrated, and, now further on, the tone (pigmentation) has become more even’ • ‘My skin definitely looks more radiant and luminous. I still have fine lines, but dare I say it - not as pronounced! I would definitely buy this or ask Santa to gift it to me’ • ‘I do very much like this product, which has given my skin an additional glowiness (is that a word?); it appears visibly brighter. It sank into my skin well with no tackiness or residue, so it’s easy to apply make-up afterwards’ • ‘Leaves skin feeling hydrated, smooth, silky soft and more radiant - it acts really well as a base for make-up, almost like a pre-primer primer!’
£45 for 50ml - click to buy
SILVER AWARD Wildsmith Active Repair Copper Peptide Cream
In spring 2018, an exciting new nature-meets-science skincare range – Wildsmith – asked us to conduct a special Beauty Bible trial on their soon-to-be-launched products. This proved to be a total star in the collection, which was created initially for use in the spa at the much-talked-about, just-opened Heckfield Place hotel in Hampshire. The range is also available on-line, where you’ll find this rich, whipped (and pricy) cream described as a ‘super-charged moisturiser’, incorporating copper peptide and a high-spec hyaluronic acid. (This cream has since become a real favourite of Jo’s, too.) It can be used day and night.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘I really like this soft silky cream and loved the beautiful natural scent; it really felt like it was working when I used it. The first time I used it my skin looked plumper and less greasy. I had to leave it a little longer than my usual moisturiser to sink in before I applied my make-up. After using this for a few weeks, my skin looked and felt fresher, more vibrant and younger; fine lines faded somewhat’ • ‘I loved the glow this gave and it certainly helped the texture of my skin. I hadn’t expected to be a great fan of this product as I usually prefer oils rather than creamy moisturisers but I was mistaken!! I like it very much and would certainly buy it’ • ‘I’m intrigued by the fact it contains copper peptides as I have been looking for a copper peptide serum. My skin tone looks more even with using this; it looks plumper and feels softer. I am sure the dark spots on my face have faded a little’ • ‘Even on my oily skin this was wonderful. I even think my skin has become less oily from using the range. I just have an oily forehead after a long day now rather than my whole face being shiny. That is in itself a minor miracle…. My skin is more supple and there are no new wrinkles. Two friends have described my skin as radiant and fresh’ • ‘After using this luxurious feeling cream for a few weeks, my skin looks fresher and more dewy, feels velvety and fine lines have faded. It’s also a very good base for make-up, giving a smoother finish. My skin looks and feels so much better overall. A real treat.’
£125 for 50ml - click to buy
BRONZE (JOINT) AWARD Temple Spa Moisture to Go Balancing Moisturiser
Another great choice for combination skins (and for men, Temple Spa point out), balancing skin via microspheres that soak up excess oil, alongside light silicones which allow the complexion to breathe while delivering a smooth, silky, make-up ready finish. At the same time, it’s quenching enough for dehydrated areas, incorporating ‘anti-ageing Mediterranean ingredients’, including extracts of oregano, tomato and sunflower oil.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘My skin felt very soft and silky immediately I applied this lightweight cream/gel moisturiser. It seems to mattify my T zone; there is definitely less shine since I have used this. Nearing the end of the trial my skin looks good and there is an improvement in some fine lines and wrinkles. People have said I don't look my age – I would buy this’! • ‘Loved the texture, not too thick and not too runny, and the lovely herbal scent. It left my skin looking better than before, improving the texture/tone and making it softer and smoother. What more can you ask?’ • ‘I was surprised how much I liked this multi-tasking moisturiser. It is very lightweight and absorbs rapidly. It’s perfect for combination skin, like mine. It claims to treat oily areas, absorbing excess oil, and to rehydrate and balance dry areas. I agree 100%. My skin texture felt smooth, hydrated and firmer. Would be suitable for all ages and skin types’ • ‘Wild horses wouldn't stop me buying this! Within 24 hours I had decided this is the product for me going forward. My skin felt moisturised and calm without feeling overloaded. I can at times feel as though my skin very quickly goes greasy; this definitely reduced the appearance of oiliness and shine, as it promises. It just felt perfect and I love how it makes me feel. Thank you, thank you for sending me this product’ • ‘I would buy it for the comfort it brought. The scent was very natural and almost herby, very nice’ • ‘So many products state that they can handle combination skin and even things out. So many products are wrong. This one just works.’
£38 for 50ml - click to buy
BRONZE (JOINT) AWARD Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré
Another fairly reasonably-priced winner (just the wrong side of a tenner), French pharmacy brand Embryolisse describe this as their '24-hour miracle cream'. More than just a day cream, it multi-tasks as a primer, make-up remover, repairing mask, after-shave and babycare product. Where we'd slightly take them to task is the fact they maintain this offers 'a combination of ingredients of natural origin, rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins' – yet the second ingredient after water is mineral oil. Leaving that aside, it nevertheless impressed testers.
OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:
‘This reduced the dryness of my skin, leaving it more supple, hydrated and smooth, not plumper as such but I could feel a difference. Make-up went on smoothly after’ • ‘This promises to be a multi-tasker – primer, moisturiser and cleanser, leaving complexion dewy, soft and prepped for foundation. I loved it as a primer in particular (didn't get on with as a cleanser though might be useful for holidays). My make up stayed on all day and still looked fresh’ • ‘I could use this thickish cream as moisturiser and primer and only needed to wait a few moments to apply foundation and then loose powder. I will definitely buy this. I tried using it in different other ways as suggested in the instructions and found it's a great product. My skin feels well looked after!’
£13 for 30ml - click to buy