Winter skincare: The best budget and bougie moisturisers for the colder months

Composite of products against lavender background with peach swirly line design
We've done the hard work for you. Photo credit: Photo illustration - Newshub; Images - Supplied / Sourced from brand website

It's that time of year where the temperature drops, the wind picks up and alfresco evenings sipping Aperol are replaced with hermit-like hibernation, waiting for the next season of Love Island to begin. 

It's also a time where the elements are particularly harsh to our skin: icy winds, the cold, and dry air caused by indoor heating can all wreak havoc on our delicate dermis, leaving it as withered as that poor plant on the desk you haven't watered in weeks.

When the weather is working against you, it's time to up the ante when it comes to skincare: think moisture, moisture, moisture. We want to be locking in hydration, healing parched patches and strengthening the skin barrier to keep the complexion healthy and happy, even when the very air you breathe is trying to turn it into desiccated coconut. 

And if there's one thing I know all about, it's how difficult it can be to find a moisturiser that works for your skin type without causing breakouts or, you know, breaking the bank. There are so many on the market at a vast range of price points, it can be hard to know where to start. Will the budget cream break me out? Will the expensive one be a waste of money? It's treacherous terrain to navigate. 

As a general rule of thumb, the oilier among us should typically steer clear of thick, greasy creams with added oils, and the dryer should look for rich, hydrating formulas. Regardless of where you are on the spectrum, ingredients like hyaluronic acid are a good bet to help retain much-needed moisture during the cold, dry months, while ceramides, or fatty molecules, help maintain a healthy skin barrier. 

So without further ado, here are our picks for the best moisturisers this winter, whatever your skin type. As we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis, the products are separated into 'Budget' and 'Bougie', so there's a moisturiser for every bank balance. 

The budget

Bondi Sands Moisturisers, RRP$21.99-$23.99

For those who favour a lightweight formula, may I introduce you to Bondi Sands' Whipped Moisturiser? This everyday cream (RRP$21.99) is ideal for those who like their products to absorb quickly - making it a great pick for prepping the skin before makeup. It's also enriched with sunflower seed oil, desert lime extract and rosehip oil to boost hydration. While I'd recommend this or the Light'n Dreamy Gel Moisturiser (RRP$21.99) for daytime, the Sweet Dreams Night Moisturiser (RRP$23.99) is a richer cream more suited for overnight. It's enriched with all the goodies, from hyaluronic acid to squalane, to leave the skin nourished. Plus, all are non-comedogenic, meaning they're suitable for the acne-prone among us. 

Bondi Sands Daydream Whipped Moisturiser
Bondi Sands Daydream Whipped Moisturiser. Photo credit: Supplied

Frank Body Super Ceramide Night Cream, RRP$27

This affordable cream is touted as a deeply nourishing, rich formula designed to restore the skin barrier overnight, packed with ceramides, squalane, and niacinamide. Ceramides work by binding the cells together to reduce water loss, making it a great ingredient in the wintertime for boosting hydration. Meanwhile, niacinamide can be a godsend for those with dull, inflamed skin, helping to reduce redness and increase brightness.

Frula Beauty Super Hydrating Moisturiser, RRP$22

Another budget buy, Frula Beauty is available in supermarkets at a very bank-friendly price, but this local brand packs a punch. For the dry, I'd recommend using this as a daily moisturiser - it's enriched with hyaluronic acid and jojoba, rosehip, evening primrose and sunflower seed oils for ultra hydration - and for the oilier, perhaps try this overnight to avoid any shininess or makeup slippage throughout the day. It also features a native ingredient, kawakawa leaves, which help to calm, restore and nourish dry, itchy and inflamed skin.

kit: Melatonin Night Balm, RRP$50 

This melatonin-enriched night balm is touted as a rejuvenating sleep-in treatment featuring carefully curated botanicals. The formula has been designed to firm, smooth and hydrate the skin overnight, and features the powerhouse Japanese grape extract to help fortify the skin barrier and increase moisture while you sleep. 

Lanolips 101 Dry Skin Super Cream, RRP$22

This multipurpose cream for the face and body has been touted as an ultimate saviour for dry skin, but be warned: if you're acne-prone, perhaps give this one a miss. It has triple the lanolin of standard creams, with a rich, whipped, creamy texture. As an emollient, lanolin is considered a very effective ingredient for moisturising due to its conditioning properties. It works in tandem with sweet almond oil, shea butter and vitamin E to hydrate, soothe and soften the skin. Fans of the cream tend to recommend using it sparingly on particularly dry patches, rather than all-over moisturiser, but do what works for you. 

Weleda Skin Food Light, RRP$24.90

While I was initially a little worried the light version of Weleda's fabled Skin Food would prove too rich for my sensitive, acne-prone skin, I needn't have been concerned. This lush cream doesn't break me out, leaves my skin smooth and silky soft, and has become a staple in my skincare routine. A thick, rich night-time moisturiser? Tick. A nourishing body cream to heal dry patches? Tick. A day cream that makes a great base for makeup? Also tick. The formula is designed to regenerate the skin's protective barrier, combining organic sunflower oil with the calming extracts of pansy, chamomile and calendula. There's also the classic Skin Food for very dry skin. 

Top row: Frula Beauty, Lanolips, Bondi Sands; Bottom row: kit; Weleda; Frank Body.
Top row: Frula Beauty, Lanolips, Bondi Sands; Bottom row: kit; Weleda; Frank Body. Photo credit: Photo illustration - Newshub; Images - Supplied / Sourced from brand website

The bougie 

Clinique Moisture Surge™ 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, RRP$30-$159

This gel moisturiser is oil-free and quickly absorbed, but still serves up to a whopping 100 hours of hydration (according to its clinical testing). Its lightweight, gel-cream texture makes it an ideal choice for those who tend to avoid heavy, thick creams, but it doesn't compromise on moisture: it's formulated with hyaluronic acid, activated aloe water and aloe bio-ferment, all of which are hailed as game-changers for moisture retention. It also makes a lovely canvas for makeup application. 

Dermalogica Phyto Nature Oxygen Cream, RRP$200

I introduced this moisturiser into my routine a month or so ago, and I feel like I can already see a noticeable difference in the appearance of my skin. The bottle states that it contains oxygen-optimising phytoactives - whatever that means - but in a nutshell, it's super hydrating, soothing and feels beautiful on the skin. It's lightweight enough to wear as a daytime moisturiser (plus it sits nicely under makeup) and is hydrating enough to use as a night cream over serums. 

Emma Lewisham Supernatural Face Crème Riche, RRP$158

This incredibly rich, luxurious moisturiser is packed with high-performing, scientifically proven ingredients designed to deeply moisturise and plump the skin. It has a fairly strong fragrance, which I'd guess not everyone will be a fan of, but if you need intense hydration, this cream will be your go-to. It is formulated with saccharide isomerate, a hydrating hero that enhances the skin's production of hyaluronic acid, as well as phyto-lipids.

Emma Lewisham Supernatural Face Creme Rich .
Emma Lewisham Supernatural Face Creme Rich . Photo credit: Supplied

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, RRP$64-$108

Light in texture but heavy in hydration, this cream can be used day or night due to its ultra moisturising but lightweight, non-greasy and wearable formula. Uniquely formulated for all skin types - even sensitive skin - this cream has amassed a cult following, and for good reason. Key ingredients include glacial glycoprotein - which protects the skin from changing temperatures while facilitating water retention - avocado oil, and squalane to help replenish the skin barrier.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro™ Whipped Cream, RRP$112

This award-winning rich and restorative cream features a blend of six cold-pressed African oils and ceramides to deliver hydration that lasts. It's another product that strikes the all-important balance between thick and creamy but non-greasy. Those with normal to dry skin are said to benefit the most from this formula, which according to Drunk Elephant's clinical trials, is proven to increase and sustain hydration over time. 

Left to right: Kiehl's, Drunk Elephant, Dermalogica, Clinique, Emma Lewisham.
Left to right: Kiehl's, Drunk Elephant, Dermalogica, Clinique, Emma Lewisham. Photo credit: Photo illustration - Newshub; Images - Supplied / Sourced from brand website

The above products have been independently selected by Newshub Lifestyle. In some cases Newshub Lifestyle has been supplied with samples to review.