In the BBC program The Truth About Looking Good, Cherry Healey and industry professionals discussed what beauty products actually do, conducted experiments to see whether they were worth the effort, and tested how products rank against each other based on the ingredient list. Spoiler alert: the price of the product doesn't always indicate efficacy.
Among multiple experiments conducted, some valid, some with slightly more questionable requirements, three moisturisers were put up for trial to test hydration. A group of 25 volunteers were split into three groups and had their skin hydration levels tested before and after the experiment. Each volunteer (blindly) used either Nivea Soft Refreshingly Soft Moisturising Cream (£1.60 per 100ml), Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturiser (£24 per 100ml), and Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré Nourishing Moisturiser (£27 per 100ml, though the show claimed it was more expensive than this). The volunteers were asked to apply one of the three moisturisers twice a day for three weeks on only half of their faces.
Much to everyone's surprise, it was the cheapest option, Nivea Soft, that came out on top, leaving the skin most hydrated. Clinique came next, with Embryolisse in third pleace. The reason Nivea performed so well on the hydration test? Glycerin. Glycerin is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture to the outer layer of the skin; it also absorbs its own weight in water, increasing hydration levels. This prevents dryness and protects the skin barrier.
How do you work out how much glycerin is in your favourite beauty products? It's pretty simple: the higher up ingredients are on the list, the more that product contains.
Although Nivea came out on top in this particular test, that doesn't mean to say creams like Embryolisse don't work, or have benefits beyond just hydration. The cult French buy has been a firm favourite among the editors at POPSUGAR UK for a long time. There are other factors that come into play when looking for a moisturiser for your skin concerns like pigmentation, sensitivity, and acne, as well as scent and texture.
At the end of the experiment the scientist claimed that "using a moisturiser is not going to have that long-term anti-ageing effect." This may be true scientifically, but don't let this stop you from using it daily. It forms a short-term layer on your skin to protect your skin and helps improve the look and feel of the skin on a daily basis. These moisturisers don't aim to drastically improve your skin condition in three weeks, but I guarantee using some sort of moisturiser will make a difference.
The Truth About Looking Good made valid points about the benefits of topical retinol for anti-ageing, and emphasised the fact SPF is key to keeping skin looking youthful and reducing sun damage. Sun damage is one of the top factors that cause wrinkling and premature ageing. This is why you need SPF everyday, even if you hate how it feels.
So, when it comes to moisturiser, let this be a lesson to us all: the most expensive isn't always the best option, and you should always read the packaging if you're looking for a specific ingredients!