Having combination skin can be a real minefield when it comes to picking your skincare. Should you seek out products that dial down the oiliness or alleviate the dryness? If you focus on one, will you exacerbate the other? Luckily, last winter, it seemed that I finally found my skincare groove. My face was hydrated and plump, and any oiliness was under control. My technique? Light layers of serums and creams—and even nighttime oils when needed—to lock in hydration. But then spring and summer rolled around, and I was back to square one. The oilier parts of my skin were getting out-of-control shiny, and I found myself having to blot every couple of hours no matter which products I applied. And despite the increased oil levels, my skin also felt tight as it adjusted to a warmer climate.
Honestly, I felt like I just couldn’t win, but that was when I began to notice a rise in the popularity of gel and jelly-textured skincare on TikTok. With no other tricks up my sleeve, I thought I’d try to incorporate this lighter texture into my routine too, and guess what: I’ve been totally converted. It turns out that while some social media beauty trends are just fads, switching to gel skincare is the real deal. In fact, even skincare experts are big fans of making the swap.
“The advantage of gels is that they can be very hydrating and quickly absorbed, so they’re perfect for layering,” says Justine Hextall, FRCP, consultant dermatologist. “There is so much interest in actives, and as such, several products may need to be applied. Gel works well for this.”
With the hotter weather in the UK and the continued use of face masks, you might find your oil-based products clogging your pores, leading to breakouts. “Using a lightweight gel that is non-greasy helps to hydrate and protect the skin barrier, reducing dryness and irritation under a mask without being comedogenic,” says Hextall. And in the cooler months, when dryness is more of a concern, she suggests layering gel formulas with a non-gel moisturiser to lock in hydration.
While most skin types can benefit from gel-textured skincare, Hextall advises you check the ingredient list. “If the gel is alcohol-based, then a sensitive skin type will find that astringent irritating. If a gel contains hydrating humectants, such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid, or ceramides, then it will be soothing to most skin types.”
So if this has piqued your interest, then keep scrolling to discover the best gel skincare products.
This cult cleanser melts away makeup and dirt, transforming from gel to milk on contact with water. It uses poloxamer (an ultra-mild cleansing agent) instead of traditional, more drying soaps, so it doesn’t sting your eyes, either.
Both green tea and centella are full of antioxidants and help to soothe and calm the skin, making this gel cleanser a great choice for anyone who deals with redness or inflammation. The addition of glycerin in this gel cleanser is great for keeping the skin hydrated, too.
One of the MVPs in the cleansing gel game, Oskia’s beloved cleanser is a real beauty-editor favourite. It includes vitamin A palmitate to gently resurface dead skin, while vitamins C and E aid in restoring balance and protecting the skin against free radicals.
This is an oil-based jelly texture, so it’s perfect for melting away heavy makeup and SPF. Use this as your first cleanse, and then follow up with micellar water for soft and deeply cleansed skin.
An infusion of rose water and seawater extract means that this gel cleanser is deceptively nourishing, despite the lightweight texture.
Gel Moisturisers & SPF
I’m a huge fan of the original version of this cream, but this one is the perfect switch for summer. It instantly cools the skin and keeps shine at bay for longer.
If you’re not a fan of traditional SPFs—or avoid them entirely for fear of that chalky, heavy texture—then this is for you. The lightweight, gel texture doesn’t leave any white cast at all and absorbs into skin immediately.
If an uneven tone is your main skin concern, then you’re in luck. This jelly moisturiser contains Japanese angelica root to brighten your complexion and help achieve an even glow.
This is a real thirst-quencher thanks to the moisture-retaining glycerin and natural emollient squalane in the formula. It keeps skin looking hydrated all day long, and it’s less than a tenner.
Gel Eye Creams
The combination of ingredients in this high-street eye cream makes it a winning formula for me. Hyaluronic acid, cucumber extract, niacinamide, witch hazel extract and peptides are all in the mix for a soothed, hydrated and brighter eye area.
The ribbons of gel and cream in this eye cream not only look cute but also combine at the pump to create a potent, smoothing formula. And the star ingredient, bakuchiol, gently combats the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
This chic eye contour cream immediately helps to de-puff the eye area thanks to a combination of cornflower and the cooling applicator. Plus, it contains micronised powder to minimise dark circles and illuminate under-eyes.
Gel Toners & Masks
This is coined as a toner but has all the perks of a serum. It fights dark spots, reduces the appearance of larger pores and leaves skin looking brighter.
Are breakouts inevitable for you when your period comes? Try this gel mask, which includes green tea to improve the appearance of inflammation for spots that have already arrived and zinc to regulate sebum production.
Watermelon extract is known for soothing irritation, so pop a thin layer of this gel mask on before bed if your skin is in need of some TLC.
Up next: five products we should all be using this summer, according to skin experts.
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