Charlotte Tilbury's New Magic Water Cream Gave My Combo Skin a Hydrated Glow

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Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream Refillable Gel Moisturizer

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream jar on gray bedding

Star Donaldson

What We Like
  • Works well as a hydrating primer

  • Locks in moisture

  • Suitable for dry and combination skin types

  • A little goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • High price point

  • Watery texture may not work for everyone

Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Water Cream is the lightweight, gel-like answer to the original Magic Cream formula. While the original is more suitable for normal to dry skin, the Magic Water Cream is a good solution for oilier skin types. It boasts a hydration-forward formula with the same results, but a less heavy feel than the original.


Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream Refillable Gel Moisturizer

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream jar on gray bedding

Star Donaldson

We put the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

Whenever Charlotte Tilbury launches a new product, the beauty world stands at attention. With a roster of cult-favorite products like the Hollywood Contour Wand and the Hollywood Flawless Filter, the brand has really set the standard for a radiant, hydrated makeup look. Creating the CT glow starts with the Magic Cream, known for its luxe feel, long-lasting results, and incredible primer abilities. Now, Tilbury has done it again with a new spin on the cult fave: Charlotte's Magic Water Cream, which claims to hydrate skin for 100 hours with Waterlocking Fusion Technology, reduce the appearance of pores, and improve texture and tone. But does it stand up to the original? Read on for my full review of the iconic makeup artist's latest innovation.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream

Best for: Dehydrated and combination skin types.

Uses: A moisturizer that deeply hydrates skin and primes it for makeup.

Hero ingredients: Aquaporin, niacinamide, squalane, peptides

Price: $100

About the brand: Charlotte Tilbury is known for creating innovative makeup and skincare products that create a radiant, glowing finish. Before the launch of her brand, she earned acclaim in the industry as a celebrity makeup artist. Now, several of her products are considered cult favorites, used by makeup artists around the world.

About My Skin: Combination and acne-prone

With my combination skin, it can be a little difficult to find products with finishes that help my skin stay matte or glow in the right places all day long. In my T-zone and chin, I get progressively oilier throughout the day, but my cheeks and most of my forehead are on the dry side. In addition, I deal with breakouts that cause my skin to be sensitive to comedogenic formulas, plus I'm prone to tons of hyperpigmentation. I tend to gravitate towards full-coverage formulas, but I know that any strong beat starts with good prep. As a combo skin girl, The Magic Water Cream seems like it was made for those who felt that the OG magic cream was a bit too heavy but still wanted the award-winning hydration and priming effects.

The Feel: A gel cream that melts into skin

Close-up of Byrdie editor Star Donaldson's hand with swatch of Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream

Star Donaldson

In the pot, the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream looks very thick and creamy—compared to the original, it definitely has a looser texture, but it's still stiff when you pick it up. On the skin, it feels creamy and rich, but it immediately melts into a gel-like texture. It’s totally fragrance-free, and once on my face, it felt almost cooling. I only needed one fingertip of product to cover my entire face, and as soon as it reduced into a gel texture, I could see the glowing hydration that it brought to my skin. It leaves a smooth, satisfying, almost satiny texture behind without being sticky or tacky.

The Ingredients: Powerful hydrators and calming agents

There's a reason this product calls itself the Magic Water Cream—it's packed with innovative, deeply hydrating ingredients that leave skin moisturized, glowing, and primed for makeup. A few standouts are as follows:

  • Hydagen™ Aquaporin: This water protein transports moisture between skin cells to support skin hydration from within.
  • Niacinamide: One of the most popular solutions for achieving a calm and clear complexion, niacinamide enhances brightness, reduces signs of aging, and can help reduce breakouts.
  • Squalane: This emollient ingredient calms inflammation, supports skin barrier health, and works well alongside actives like retinol.
  • Replexium™ Peptides: In case you haven't gotten in on peptides, you might want to: This trademarked take reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improves the skin’s barrier.

How to Apply: Before makeup

The Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream is specifically intended for use before makeup application. I used a fingertip-sized amount of the product and applied dots all over my face, then rubbed it in before applying my foundation. I find that this product doesn’t soak in super quickly, so you have a minute for the hydration to sink in before moving on to the next step.

The Results: The primer I've always wanted

Byrdie editor Star Donaldson's skin before and after applying the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream

Star Donaldson/Byrdie

Charlotte Tilbury’s new Magic Water Cream fits easily into my daily skincare routine, right before I apply my base makeup. This formula is a gel-based water cream, whereas the original Magic Cream has more of a creamy texture. Because it's lighter, I find that my skin soaks it up a lot easier and stays hydrated without looking oily midday. Still, it boasts the same skin-enhancing benefits and simple application technique as the original—my skin looks more even, calmer, and plumper after application. Best of all, it blends in evenly and doesn’t pill on top of my skincare like other gel primers I’ve tried. Overall, it’s a luxurious primer that provides a glowy finish and keeps my skin looking hydrated all day long.

The Value: Expensive but can be worth it

When it comes to Charlotte Tilbury’s cult following and the extreme popularity of the original Magic Cream, you know what you’re getting yourself into. This product is valued at $100 for a 1.7-oz. jar, with refills available for $90. That’s undeniably pricey, especially compared to other primers and facial creams on the market—but it's also the same price as the original. If you felt that the original was too heavy for you and weren’t stifled by the price, this iteration is a good option. It’s also worth noting that you need very little product to cover your entire face. I’ve had the Magic Water Cream for over four months, and I haven’t even reached the midway point with semi-regular use.

Similar Products: You've got options

Tatcha The Water Cream Oil-Free Pore Minimizing Moisturizer: For a slightly less expensive version, this moisturizer ($70) works similarly to the Magic Water Cream to hydrate skin, minimize the look of pores, and tackle uneven skin tone. While I view the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Water Cream as more of a primer, Tatcha's The Water Cream is recommended for daily and nightly use as more of a general moisturizer. 

Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb Hydrating Moisturizer with Squalane: When I think of a water cream, this product from Belif ($38) is what comes to mind. This is the more budget-friendly option here if you're looking for a good moisturizer, but it does melt very quickly into the skin, so it doesn’t have the tackiness that makes for a great primer.

Final Verdict

Charlotte Tilbury’s answer for instant, long-lasting nourishment under makeup, the Magic Water Cream promises 100 hours of deep hydration, pore appearance reduction, and a calmer, more even skin texture and tone. Ideal for anyone who felt like the original Magic Cream was too heavy for their skin type, this cream effectively hydrates while reducing the appearance of fine lines and improving barrier function for more radiant-looking skin. 


  • Product Name Magic Water Cream Refillable Gel Moisturizer
  • Product Brand Charlotte Tilbury
  • Price $100.00
  • Weight 1.7 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Squalane, Propanediol, Pentylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Glyceryl Glucoside, Niacinamide, Mannitol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Carbomer, Camellia Oleifera (Camellia) Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Sodium Gluconate, Sodium Hydroxide, Tocopherol, Beta-Glucan, Sodium Hyaluronate, Backhousia Citriodora Leaf Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Plumeria Rubra Flower Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-11, Citric Acid, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-9, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate.

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