Rain aside, the recent drop in temperature has got me smiling more intensely/annoyingly than a slimy salesperson who’s just hoodwinked another old lady into buying a cleaning product she probably doesn’t need, and definitely won’t ever use. Don’t get me wrong, summer was fun — a little too fun, some might argue — but I’m excited to hang the swimmers up, put the Aperol Spritz down, de-sand my entire life, and get to know my Uniqlo turtleneck collection a little more intimately. One thing that concerns me about the change in season, however, is the effect it has on my already thursty skin.

My face is less smattered with freckles during the colder months, which, as a pursuer of #flawless and even skin, is a desirable side effect. But what it lacks in freckles, it makes up for in dry, parched, patchy, red skin, hence my quest to find the perfect moisturiser that really does what it says. I gave a whole bunch of them a whirl, and my face is feelin’ pretty juicy and plump as a result. But did they all keep good on what they promised they’d do for my epidermis? Only time reading through the below reviews will tell…

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream


What it promises: Intense hydration!

What I found: First thing’s first, I loved this moisturiser. My skin reached that perf level of glowing, and sufficiently hydrated without becoming oily or shiny. My face loved it, my neck loved it, and it tickled my sense of smell’s fancy. I found it to be a tad too thick for my skin as a daytime moisturiser, especially when the temperature was soaring up in the thirties. Also, because I walk everywhere and don’t always wear breathable clothing, I require a moisturiser that’s incredibly lightweight. As such, I limited usage to the nighttime and was v pleased with the results.


Murad Hydro-Dynamic Quenching Essence


What it promises: To quench my skin’s thirst!

What I found: This smells divine. The first time I used it, I put a small dab of it on the back of my hand in the office, and aside from my appendages feeling instantly baby-like, and soft, and beautiful, I creepily kept going in to smell my hand throughout the day (weird, yes, but you’ll understand once you’ve tried it). Good smells don’t equate to porcelain skin, though, so I put it to the real test: using it on my sensitive/dry face for a fortnight. The cream is lightweight and as smooth as a pair of Ginia silk pyjamas, and I actually looked forward to waking up (a rarity for me) and going to bed (even more rare), because it meant I got to use this heavenly product. Would 100% buy again.


Aesop Elemental Facial Barrier Cream


What it promises: To protect my skin from the elements!

What I found: If Sydney’s latest spat of godawful, rain-heavy weather is anything to go by, it seems like the weather gods knew I was about to test a product that promises to shield your skin from the elements and decided to provide the right conditions. Um, thanks, I guess…?

If you’ve got red, sensitive skin, and are privy to harsh conditions, then stock your shelves with Aesop’s Elemental Barrier Cream. It comes good on its promise of protecting your skin, uses copper PCA to eliminate redness, and has a nice buttery finish. The smell ain’t bad either.


Kate Somerville Wrinkle Warrior


What it promises: To tell my wrinkles to GTF off my face!

What I found: I would buy this moisturiser based on the name alone. When I say it, I imagine that my wrinkles are going into battle with tiny little wrinkle warriors, and that the little warriors are driving my wrinkles out of my face with tiny little pitchforks. In essence, that’s pretty much what this moisturiser did. I came off the back of trialling it with super-fresh, super-rejuvenated skin. While I’m glad I’ve led a lol-filled life, I’m not super stoked about all the evidence of it stacking up on my face. I found my fine lines and pores were significantly less visible after using Kate’s moisturiser.


Darphin Intral Redness Relief Recovery Cream


What it promises: To calm redness!

What I found: If your skin is like mine and has zero chill — causing it to constantly oscillate between light pink and straight up rouge — then you need to introduce it to Darphin Intral Redness Relief Recovery Cream right now. This is some next lev’ product. There are very few brands we reach for when we have sensitised skin, a breakout, or any type of redness. The goal is finding something that’s not too fragranced, and that’s on the natural plant-based side of the spectrum. When I recently had a case of over-sensitised skin from trialling one too many retinol serums, this was my saviour. It’s green in colour, and contains the darphin calm complex (which relieves inflamed skin), vitamin E (which strengthens and helps to hydrate), and bran extract (to smooth and firm skin). The French truly know what’s up when it comes to skincare.


Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet


What it promises: To calm dehydrated skin!

What I found: Every time I reach for this in my cabinet, I instantly get the urge to leg it to Messina and order every flavour of sorbet under the sun. Outside of constantly testing my (shaky) willpower, using Caudalie’s Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet has been satisfying in the same way that waking up hungover af and being handed a massive glass of ice-cold water is. Extremely. The gel-cream formula ticks all the natural boxes, too, with organic grape water and chamomile coming together to calm and hydrate.


Dermalogica Super Rich Repair


What it promises: To provide heavy-weight moisture!

What I found: I’ve pretty much always got a dry ol’ patch of skin on my forehead that most things can’t fix, which makes applying foundation/life in general a nightmare. Dermalogica is the golden exception to this rule. If your skin is hella parched, you’ve got fine lines (or even more established ones), and you want your skin to appear as if you’ve just knocked back 3L of water, this is the ultimate cream that does what it says. And it does it while you sleep. Win!

I found this to be a little too heavy-weight for daytime wear on my 25-year-old skin (see above for other reasons why I skip heavy duty creams during the day). However, if you’re in your early-to-mid 30s, are concerned about ageing, and have normal to dry skin, this should be your BFF both morning and night.


Eve Lom Brightening Cream


What it promises: To hydrate and brighten!

What I found: This is the holy grail when it comes to helping out dry, red skin. If you have either of those things, then this deserves a spot at the front and centre of your beauty cabinet. When I used it, I could literally feel my skin lapping up all the nourishment and moisture, as if it had never known such hydration in its life. It also feels super luxurious and expensive (which it sort of is), and that is the golden ticket for me when it comes to moisturisers. Don’t freak out too much over the price tag: you don’t need much to cover your entire face, so it lasts a long time.

This was truly love at first touch.


Words, Madeleine Woon. Photography, Sarah Adamson