How we test moisturisers

Making sure your daily moisturiser lives up to its claims.

We never run dry testing moisturisers

How can you tell a face moisturiser is doing the job it says it will? We test a range of popular brands in lab conditions so you know where to put your money.

Need to find a moisturiser that works for your skin? Use our moisturiser reviews to find one that does the job at the right price.

Our expert testers

With more than 30 years combined experience in our laboratory, we are proud of our expert testers. They've seen all types of hype come through the labs, but one thing never changes – a product that claims to moisten – should actually moisten! We test many elements of a moisturiser, but our focus on these basics means that when it's time to buy, you can be sure the moisturiser you buy does its job well.

On top of this, many of our testers sit on Standards committees, both national and international, so we keep up to date with how labs and manufacturers are changing the standards and to give consumers a voice in this forum, where sometimes only government and industry are represented.

How we choose what we test

Why do we choose one moisturiser over another to test? There are a number of reasons, but our priority is to test what you'll see in the stores. That means we might not cover that one brand that has one model that's sold 100 samples in Australia, and instead focus on the big brands so you can at least see the moisturiser before you buy it to make sure you're happy with it.

How do we know what's in retailers? We check current market figures to see what's selling well – typically this means all the big brands in Australian retailers and online. We'll also include models that you've requested – if a lot of members want it, we'll test it.

When we know what you want, our buyers go out and use your member fees to buy the moisturisers from a variety of retailers, then bring them in as is – this means we get what you get so we can be sure the results are what you'll find rather than potentially 'tweaked'.

How we test

Each group of volunteers per product is more or less similar: women with normal/healthy skin, smokers and non-smokers, aged between 25 and 66 years with skin type "normal to dry".

Every product is tested on 22 volunteers initially. In total the panel reaches 528 women. 

Measurement of moisturisation is done by corneometry. The corneometer measures the skin's (epidermis) electric capacitance (capacity measurement). This is directly linked to the degree of hydration of the skin. Generally, we say that the more the skin is moisturised, the higher the capacitance, as water stimulates the movement of the ions.

Test criteria explained

Hydration (50%)

One arm receives the tested moisturising cream and the other arm receives a standard cream. On each forearm, a specific untreated area is also examined. The test is randomised; it's not always the same arm that receives the standard. The standard used is a former commercial product, sold as a moisturiser and still used by the lab in many tests of cosmetic products because it shows a good reproducibility and keeps good moisturising properties; this standard product is formulated internally by the lab. The standard has been used by the lab since 1985.

The untreated area is necessary because although the duration of the test is short, climatic conditions (relative humidity and temperature) can vary (but mainly between day and night) and thus may influence the status of hydration of the skin. The result of the untreated area is used as a reference for the initial value to exclude any variation of the hydration degree of the skin not due to the product.

The control of the untreated area is important in order to assess the moisturising effect of the product due to the product itself i.e. without external influence. Climatic conditions are not the only ones to be considered as even over a short period hormonal changes can affect the moisturisation degree of the skin, like food, etc. The subject is instructed to apply the creams twice a day (in the morning and in the evening).

Ease of use (30%)

Cosmetic qualities of the moisturising creams are assessed through a questionnaire provided to 30 women testing the products during one week, once a day. Each woman is asked to evaluate eight products. In total, the test required the participation of 220 women.

Questions covered ease of application, consistency of texture, fragrance during application, absorbed easily, stickiness, greasiness and oiliness of skin.

Smoothness (10%)

This is a cosmetic perception of the moisturising cream dealing with smoothness, but is likely to be more valued than many of the other ease of use factors, so has been separated out to weight it more heavily.

Moisturising feeling (10%)

This is a cosmetic perception of the moisturising cream dealing with a feeling of being moisturised, but is likely to be more valued than many of the other ease of use factors, so has been separated out to weight it more heavily.

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