11 Cheap Moisturisers That Feel So Expensive on the Skin

A good moisturiser is a skincare staple. Second only to a great cleanser, a moisturising cream is an important step in your routine to ensure you’re flooding your skin with hydration and vital antioxidants. Plus, a good one will act as the final step in protecting your skin against environmental aggressors during the day and will help your skin cells recharge and rejuvenate overnight.

The problem with many moisturisers, however, is that they can be the most expensive element of a good skincare routine. Moisturisers often have clever active ingredients and luxe textures, so you can expect to pay a little more, but that doesn’t mean you should have to.

There are now some seriously amazing dupes out there from more affordable brands, all of which offer high-quality products without the enormous price tags.

Not all moisturisers are created equal, but blowing your budget is not essential.

Keep scrolling to shop 11 high-end moisturisers as well as their affordable alternatives.

La Mer’s classic moisturiser is a beauty icon and always will be, but it’s definitely on the pricier end of the scale. Formulated with the brand’s iconic Miracle Broth, it promises to smooth and soothe skin while delivering a stellar glow.

If it’s a super-rich, comforting cream you’re after, Nivea’s original Creme is widely considered a good dupe to La Mer. No, it might not have the same luxe feeling, but it does carry similar nourishing benefits. Incredibly gentle and seriously hydrating, it’s a great option for drier, mature skin types.

Every skincare routine craves vitamin C—the ultimate antioxidant for brightening and protecting skin from pollution. This Origins cream has a lovely light gel texture and is formulated without pore-clogging oils, making it great for oily skin types.

While Origins’s vitamin C moisturiser isn’t as pricey as some options on this list, it does run over £20, which isn’t a sustainable expense for many who use their moisturiser morning and night. To help keep costs down a little, this option from The Body Shop is equally as brilliant. 

Rose is a great ingredient for sensitive or dry skin, and Sisley’s beloved gel-water cream is divine. In fact, it’s considered to be one of the most popular moisturisers amongst celebrity facialists and makeup artists thanks to its instantly plumping, glow-boosting finish.

Sure, Sisley’s cream is great, but very few have the budget to blow £140 on a moisturiser. To reap the skin-loving benefits of Black Rose, try this Pixi Rose Ceramide Cream, which is very similar in texture and scent. 

If you suffer from blemishes and breakouts, you still need to moisturise. However, finding a suitable formula can be a challenge. Dr. Barbara Sturm’s clarifying cream aims to control excess oil and moisturise without clogging pores. The brand is a favourite amongst celebs such as Emily Ratajkowski, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Hailey Bieber, so you know it’s good.

If you don’t have the extra cash to spend, La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo + is also an iconic lightweight lotion for acne. In fact, this stuff is so good that dermatologists often recommend it for patients prone to aggressive breakouts.

Another ingredient every skincare routine benefits from is hyaluronic acid. This lightweight cream delivers a plumping glow without any greasiness.

The truth is hyaluronic acid isn’t an expensive skincare ingredient, so you shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get cushiony-soft, hydrated skin. See, for example, Neutrogena’s version, which floods skin with moisture.

Skin that needs a little TLC would benefit from a targeted moisturiser that repairs and protects. Tata Harper’s Repairative Moisturiser contains a bunch of vitamins and antioxidants to protect skin from potentially damaging aggressors.

Weleda’s Skin Food Light offers the same cushiony, glowing results as the above moisturiser, just without the intense (and pricey) antioxidant protection.

Oily skin still craves moisture but in the form of a super-lightweight texture. Opt for a gel moisturiser that will hydrate yet never feel heavy, such as Clinique’s Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly.

It might not have the same luxurious packaging or texture of the Clinique Jelly, but Bioderma Hydrabio Gel Cream is a winner for oily skin that needs some hydration.

Loved by the likes of Victoria Beckham for its antioxidant, skin-loving benefits, Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream undoubtedly has been one of the most talked-about skincare products of the last few years. But £215 is a lot of cash to part with for a moisturiser. 

If you love super-rich, nourishing creams that also contain antioxidants, look no further than this wonderfully affordable moisturiser. It contains deeply hydrating squalene, youth-promoting peptides and aggressor-busting vitamin E.

Sunday Riley’s C.E.O. moisturiser is a cult favourite amongst beauty editors and skincare buffs thanks to its lightweight but powerful antioxidant abilities. It also boosts hydration and glow and isn’t thought to cause irritation as seriously as many other vitamin C formulas might. If you can afford to part with the cash, this is a great moisturiser to try.

However, if you’re after a more affordable non-irritating vitamin C cream, this 99% natural, 100% vegan moisturiser makes for a great substitute.

Makeup artists regard this as one of the best moisturisers for prepping the skin before makeup. It really makes foundation glide on flawlessly and has a whole roster of vitamins (B, C and E) and hydrating hyaluronic acid to leave skin plump and hydrated. If you have the budget to buy this regularly and want something to prepare your skin for makeup, I highly recommend investing in this moisturiser.

Price shown is members’ price. We’ve sung our praises about Beauty Pie, and this moisturiser is one of the brand’s best sellers. Not only does it have a similar consistency to Bobbi Brown’s Vitamin Enriched Face Base, but the list of active ingredients is also pretty similar. Plus, if you’re a member, it costs just a fraction of the price.

Lisa Franklin’s line of expert skincare is ideal if you live in a city where pollution is high. (Smog and smoke are not conducive to happy skin.) This moisturiser not only feels great on the skin, but it helps to shield skin from environmental damage.

A more purse-friendly alternative is Nip+Fabs Anti-Pollution SPF 30 Moisturiser. While I would always recommend wearing a dedicated SPF underneath your moisturiser, it gives an extra layer of protection against UV rays and pollution, too.

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.

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