A while ago I wrote about three of the best SOS moisturiser creams I’d been trying (pictured above). These were soothing, repairing moisturisers that I’d tested out in an attempt to get my skin back on an even keel. (You can read the post here – that particular ailment episode seems a million years ago now, what with constant school bugs and colds and viruses!)
Two of the SOS repair creams I recommended in the previous round-up were on the pricier side and I promised to take a look at some more keenly priced versions. Here I have three of the best inexpensive face creams for rescuing skin that’s dry and sensitive – whether it’s down to changes in the weather or overly-enthusiastic application of skin peels and retinoids.
Signs that your skin might need a bit of extra TLC? It feels tighter than usual, dryer than usual and has perhaps started to itch or to flake. You might see some redness or it might just be that it feels rough and irritated. Sometimes mine feels as though there are tiny annoying hairs stuck to it; quite a lot of the time it’s because my cat has walked over and rubbed his tail all over my face, but now and then, when on close inspection I see there’s nothing there, I know that my skin is in an angsty mood.
I have a bit more info on what I do in times of facial hardship in this skin routine post here – mainly involving “keeping things simple” and “avoiding strong exfoliating ingredients” but I do find that a week or so using potent skin barrier creams in place of my usual moisturisers works a treat.
And so, my top three beauty buys: (more) affordable SOS moisture creams. The first two are ceramide heavy (ceramides are the fatty acids that essentially make up the outer layers of skin, helping to form a nice strong barrier against the outside world) and the third takes a slightly different route to skin nirvana but all apply beautifully are deeply moisturising and have a non-greasy finish.
Curel Intensive Moisture Facial Cream, £19.50 here*. This cream with lightweight texture, but a deeply nourishing action is heaven in a pot. I have nothing bad to say about it. Dreamily fresh and cool to apply but with a surprising richness as it’s massaged in, it is an excellent all-rounder for those who want a face cream with added repair benefits. Brilliant for very dry, very sensitive skin, but it’s not at all greasy so those with combination skin will also find it pretty comfortable.
Dr Jart Ceramidin Cream, £30 here*. Slightly pricier but still offering exceptional value for money, Dr Jart’s Ceramidin Cream acts like a shield over your skin to help prevent moisture loss, keeping it hydrated and happy. It feels almost medicinal, like an ointment, but that makes me warm to it even more!
I often layer these creams over my go-to serum for stressed-skin days: the Toleriane Dermallergo, £28 here*.
This is a clear fluid that’s been formulated for the most sensitive of skin and it has an instant calming effect. It contains an ingredient developed by La Roche-Posay called Neurosensine which immediately relieves signs of sensitive skin including the aforementioned itchiness and tightness and gives a powerful hydration boost.
The third cream I’ve been testing out is from the same Dermallergo range:
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermallergo Cream, £18.50 here*. There’s a fluid version as well (same price here*) for those who prefer a lighter texture or who have oily or combination skin but the cream is gloriously soothing and gives a long-lasting feeling of comfort. And joy.
(Comfort-and-joy, good ti-i-dings of comfort and joy!)
Just getting into carol-singing mode, don’t mind me.
Let me know if you have any surefire rescue creams of your own, add them to the comments section below and I’ll give them a try. I like the three I’ve picked out in this post because they all work so well as regular, everyday face creams as well as SOS versions – non-greasy, well-behaved beneath makeup and not so pricey that you’re stingy with the amount you apply…
My “current skincare routine” feature is back! In typical Crilly fashion, I stopped doing my seasonal skincare videos and posts because I had bored myself with the same format. My skincare routine, four times a year, documenting any notable product discoveries or weird quirks with my skin – I felt as though I could still be turning out the same quarterly update in twenty years’ time. But it turns out that people like a familiar, regular video format and who am I to argue?
So after a brief hiatus (I missed out spring and summer this year) here’s the autumn skincare routine for 2021, focussing on the fact that my face had a brief meltdown and needed some gentle care and attention. This is why the theme of this feature is really; skincare SOS and creams that aid repair and recovery. I go into this more in my previous post – 3 Best Beauty Buys: SOS Skin Creams – so do take glance at that here for more details, but to summarise: I had a weird stomach bug, woke up afterwards and my skin had gone all strange and bumpy underneath. It was then dry and itchy. It felt rather like I’d overdone it with my retinol but I hadn’t done anything new or extreme.
As I mention in the post SOS Skin Cream post, the best thing to do whenever the proverbial shit hits the fan, face-wise, is to just pare everything right back. Gently cleanse and then moisturise with something that will help strengthen the skin barrier as well as deeply hydrate. Let’s do a deeper dive into the complete routine – it’s quite different to my default one:
My normal default skincare routine –
My SOS skincare routine –
My skin sorted itself out over the course of about a week and a half and now I’m pretty much back to the default routine, having cautiously reintroduced the retinoids every few days. Here are the products I pared back to – all of them great at any time, but especially if you’ve overdone it with your peels or intensive masks or retinol product or all of them at the same time (yikes):
I’ve been using a lot of the Kate Somerville DeliK8 Cleanser, £34 here*. It’s a beautifully soothing cream cleanser that’s great for angsty skin. The whole range is gorgeous but this is a particular treat.
You know that I love Emma Hardie’s Moringa Gel – I did a whole raving love post about it here. It gets my vote as best luxury cleanser because it’s so suited to both dry and oilier skin. Those who don’t get on with essential oils, avoid, but for anyone who wants a sense-tickling cleanse with something light then this is it!
Beauty Pie Hot Oil Cleanser – here* – is sumptuous and luxurious but (if you’re a Beauty Pie member) doesn’t come with the steep price tag. This is an unscented balm that removes every trace of makeup and dirt and I have nothing bad to say about it! You can find out more on Beauty Pie in this video I made recently.
Please refer back to this post for more details on these, but as a quick reference list:
No7 Hydrating Skin Paste (at Boots here*)
I love this “paste” – it’s actually a creamy, lightweight serum. More towards a light moisturiser than a runny, watery kind of serum but great to layer up under other creams and/or your sunscreen for an extra boost of hydration. If you don’t get on with sticky, tacky hyaluronic products then this is a nice change. Comfortable texture, housed in a metal tube like an oil paint (annoying lid), is fresh and cool on application.
Skinceuticals B5 Mask, online here*
I don’t tend to go in for a lot of moisturising masks – most of them just feel like a good, rich night cream except you then inexplicably flannel them off and rinse them down the sink. This one from SkinCeuticals, however, is one of the weirdest (yet effective) I’ve ever tried. It’s feels like what I can only imagine having a melted jellyfish stuck to your face would be like. It’s melted jellyfish in a tube. (It’s not made from jellyfish, calm down.) It almost seems to repel water so when you try to rinse it off it doesn’t just rinse away, you really have to use a washcloth or flannel. Marvellous stuff and the effects are noticeable.
SkinGenerics SPF30 – at Superdrug here
This sunscreen requires its very own post because it’s so groundbreakingly lightweight, but I want to do some comparison tests first with other weightless SPFs. Quite honestly, though, I doubt any will come out topping the Niacinamide + Osmo’city Moisturising Cream SPF30*. It feels like a water gel (nothing like a cream) on application and then simply disappears. No residue, no tackiness, and – equally as important – no feeling of tightness or dryness. It’s as if you haven’t applied anything at all, yet you have. Admittedly if it was SPF50 then it would be absolute perfection, but for those who want something for incidental exposure or who just hate the feel of other sunscreens so much they are willing to drop down to a 30, I can’t imagine you can beat this for invisible look and undetectable feel.
Just as a by-the-by, the retinol products I’ve been using since returning to the default routine are the Skin + Me (ultra powerful!) daily dose Tretinoin (find Skin + Me here) and the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream (find the range here*). Not together, I hasten to add!
Skin + Me Tretinoin
This one is specifically for me – Skin + Me make creams specifically for you once they know your skin type and skin goal. Which is ascertained via online questionnaire, filterless photos and any additional questions from the team. I’ve been doing some AD work with Skin + Me and so have tried them quite extensively – it’s a great idea and they make it very easy to form a simple, massively effective skincare routine. (Use code RUTH2 to get your first month for £3.50 instead of £19.99.)
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream
An old favourite, this is pokey as you like in terms of effectiveness and is hydrating enough that you don’t need to use any separate moisturiser over the top. There’s also a serum and eye cream in this range but I like the cream for its all-in-oneness for lazy nights! Find the whole range here* – at time of writing there are some good discounts going on!
I’ll be back in a couple of months with my winter skincare routine – until then, if you’d like to browse the historic back-catalogue of skincare routines then they are all here.
Something very odd happened to my skin the other week; I haven’t managed to get to the bottom of the cause because it could have been one of so many reasons (we’re on the “school germs carousel of illness” round here) but I have managed to do some pretty extreme SOS face cream testing. Which obviously makes for a great “best beauty buys” post, so… every cloud, etc.
A brief word on what happened to my skin before I dive into the three best SOS face creams I tried: it was suddenly bumpy, one morning – the sort of texture you’d have if you were suffering from breakouts that hadn’t come to a head yet, but all over my face from the cheeks down. Not small raised bumps or spots, but the sort that almost feel like crocodile scales. There was some visible redness. All of this manageable, but then the dryness and itching started.
The dryness and itching felt very much like a reaction to a strong retinoid, but I hadn’t tried or done anything new and so that was unlikely. Anyway, I wasn’t going to spend my week being all Poirot about it – I would obviously take more notice if it happened again or on a regular basis – I just wanted to get my skin back on an even keel.
And so I implemented my SOS Skincare routine, which is just a very pared back version of my usual one, minus the “actives” (no acids, no retinoids, no super-strength antioxidants) and with a gentler approach to cleansing. I tend to use creamier textures, soft washcloths and moisturisers that intensely hydrate as well as aiding skin barrier function.
(If you keep hearing the phrase “skin barrier” and wondering what an earth everyone is banging on about then let me briefly enlighten you with an explanation cobbled together from bits of information from own mind and some basic facts from Wikipedia. The skin barrier is sort of like the brick wall between the outside world and the inside of you. It’s the very outermost layer of the skin, it’s watertight and it protects your skin from – buzz phrase incoming! – external aggressors. “Raaaaah!”
For some reason I’ve always imagined these external aggressors as angry people trying to get into a pub that closed half an hour early with no explanation. They’re all carrying rounders bats and trying to smash the windows. In reality the phrase refers to things like pollution and cigarette smoke and UV rays – anything on the outside that your skin is not so keen on having on the inside.
Anyway, it’s massively important to keep the skin barrier healthy and functioning – if it isn’t, problems can mount up because it all goes a bit haywire. Redness, itchiness, tightness, dehydration, breakouts: an absolute circus of skin concern delights to deal with.)
I’m going to go more into my whole routine in the upcoming Current Skincare Routine: Autumn 2021, because for this post I wanted to focus on the SOS face cream saviours. Great for skin that’s suddenly very sensitive and needs some serious care and attention, they all moisturise deeply and give a helping hand to the skin barrier so that faces that feel as though they’re falling off can piece themselves back together.
The three best beauty buys I’ve picked are all amazing for skin that’s been through the mill – perhaps you’ve overdone it with your retinol products, or you’ve used a glycolic peel too often – and equally effective for bringing life back to dry, flakey skin that is rebelling against the changes in weather. You can watch the video version or scroll on down to keep reading…
1. DR. JART+ Cicapair Cream, at Amazon*
This is the most affordable – and user-friendly – of the three. It’s the lightest in texture and sinks in quickly with no greasy residue. Great beneath makeup, it is instantly soothing on itchy, tight skin and the perfect choice if you want a powerful rescue remedy without the rich texture.
2. Medik8 Ultimate Recovery Intense, at Amazon*
This is far richer and more intense in feel but I think it’s my favourite of the three favourites! The tube is user-friendly with a hinged lid, the cream is easy to apply and not stodgy but gives an instant, satisfying feeling that you’ve been basted with something miraculous. It has been formulated for post-treatment skin so it’s a no-brainer option for those who have overdone it with their peels or have started on a new strength of retinoid.
3. Murad Intense Recovery Cream, at Amazon*
This beauty of a skin repair cream has the firmest, most buttery texture and those with the driest skin (think Jacob’s Cream Cracker dry) will love it. It has the reassuring colour of some sort of 1950s hospital ointment but I do find it slightly annoying scooping it from the jar as it’s so firm, it goes straight under my nails. A non-idiot would find and use one of those plastic spatulas to make life easier but I’m too lazy to rootle through my weird-things-I’ll-never-use-drawer.
Eucerin Aquaphor, at Feel Unique*
If your skin feels rough and dry and vulnerable and you just want to shroud it in the equivalent of a suit of armour then Aquaphor is your friend. It’s slightly less refined than the above options, because it does leave a residue, but quite often that top layer of slick is very comforting, especially if your skin is so tight it feels as though it might crack. (We’re talking quite extreme skin situations today, aren’t we?) You get a 45ml tube of this for £9 – they also do a huge tube – which makes it a great all-rounder rescue cream to keep in the bathroom cabinet.