As with a spin-off of a popular TV show, the next iteration of a beloved skin-care product has a lot to live up to. It has the potential to be a timeless nod to its predecessor and achieve success in its own right (à la Melrose Place or Vanderpump Rules) or it could become a major flop (remember Joey? Yeah, we didn’t think so).

Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Water Cream, by Allure editors’ standards, is a hit — a new incarnation of the brand’s original Magic Cream that we didn’t know we needed. “It’s been 10 years since the launch of my iconic Magic Cream,” says brand founder and makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury. Her reason for creating this water-enhanced version of it now is simple: These days our skin is more dehydrated due to our environment and “on-the-go lifestyles.”

I was both excited and skeptical of the Magic Water Cream. The original was one of my favorite moisturizers and I thought it would be hard for the brand to top it, as well as follow through with its seemingly lofty claims (which we’ll get into later). I put it to the test on my extra-dry, thirsty skin and tapped my fellow editors and skin-care experts for their thoughts too.

Meet the experts:

  • Kelly Dobos is a cosmetic chemist with expertise in skin care who is based in Cincinnati.
  • Mona Gohara, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in Hamden, Connecticut.

In this story:


According to the brand, both the Magic Water Cream and the original Magic Cream were developed for use on all skin types and with makeup layering in mind. Beyond that, though, the two moisturizers are very different: The Magic Water Cream is fragrance free, while the original has a subtle floral scent; and the Magic Water Cream has a bouncy texture, somewhere between a gel and a cream, while its predecessor is emollient and on par with a traditional, rich moisturizer.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream

The biggest difference between the two is the new cream’s ability to deeply hydrate skin — fast. Tilbury calls this a “targeted solution” for thirsty skin, which, as dermatologists have taught us, can manifest as tight, dull, and flaky, but also congested and extra-oily. The new cream — which went through 60 iterations and was tested on Tilbury’s many celebrity clients — is formulated with aquaporin-boosting technology. This leads us to…

The Ingredients

A quick biology lesson: Aquaporins are proteins that naturally occur in your skin cells’ membranes and are critical to your skin’s health (and ultimately how radiant, plump, and firm it looks). “They allow specific materials into and out of the cell, like glycerin and water,” says cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos. “The right levels of water and glycerin are essential to proper skin hydration.”

The Magic Water Cream contains what the brand calls “waterlocking fusion technology,” a blend that includes glyceryl glucoside and beta-glucan to boost the skin’s aquaporin function. “Glyceryl glucoside can increase aquaporin activity,” says Dobos. “There is a synergistic effect between glyceryl glucoside and the glycerin in the formula, boosting hydration from within the skin.”

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