There are certain skin care practices that you should follow year-round for a clear, healthy complexion, like applying plenty of daily SPF, removing your makeup before bed, and generally keeping your hands off your face. But once chilling temperatures are in the picture, beauty buffs are forced to switch things up when it comes to the daily routine and take into account some of the winter’s best skin care tips.
Why the need to reevaluate your products and skin care regimen during the winter? Well, the loss of moisture in the air coupled up with seemingly meaningless lifestyle changes like taking hot showers and cranking up the heater can unfortunately result in dry, flaky, itchy skin (seemingly no matter how much moisturizer and hydrating serum you apply). From the types of formulas and skin care ingredients that you use to the temperature of your shower, there are a multitude of ways to combat the negative effects of winter weather. Sure, it can be frustrating to cope with the skin care woes that the PSL-filled season leaves behind, but plump, hydrated, luminous skin can be part of your future with a few tips and tricks.
Below, TZR tapped the industry’s top dermatologists and estheticians to learn the their top eight skin care tips for winter — plus, what to avoid.
1. Ditch The Hot Water
A long, hot shower is often what makes getting out of bed on a cold, foggy morning worth it, but the bad news is that it’s probably drying out your skin. Just like washing your hair with scalding hot water can strip its natural oils, showering with hot water can do the same for your skin. You may notice bouts of itchiness, irritation, and skin inflammation, especially if you’re already prone to inflammatory skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, Miami-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare, notes that the healthiest water temperature to bathe or shower in is tepid or close to room temperature. Any hotter and you’ll risk not only damaging the skin barrier and losing hydration, but also increasing skin redness and sensitivity, she says.
2. Don’t Skip SPF
Your skin is exposed to UVA/UVB rays year-round, and even if the sun may not feel or seem as hot in the winter, you’re still at risk for potential skin damage, says Vanessa Hernandez, celebrity facialist and founder of Los Angeles-based VH Skincare. “UVA rays’ strength remains constant all year long and can cause premature aging, loss of skin elasticity, photoaging, and wrinkles,” she notes. “While UVB rays may be less strong during winter months, they can still cause sun burns if you are exposed at a high altitude — for example, when going skiing.” That means using a SPF 30 or above sunscreen every day is still a must to keep your skin protected.
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3. Swap Lightweight Lotions For Thicker Creams
The lightweight moisturizer that felt breathable and comfortable in the summer heat likely won’t cut it in the winter, especially to help prevent transepidermal water loss (or TEWL). “The difference between the consistencies of a lotion versus a cream has to do with the balance of oils and water,” says celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and author of The Pro-Aging Playbook Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank. “Creams contain more oil and are therefore a thicker, more moisturizing substance. The greater the oil content, the better the absorption through the skin barrier will be.” Bottom line: your skin will be more well-equipped to deal with the seasonal change.
4. Apply Skin Care Products To Damp Skin
“It’s essential that you pat dry and massage in a water-trapping oil or lotion within two to three minutes of getting out of shower,” Dr. Loretta tells TZR. “Applying moisture-trapping [products] while the skin is still a bit damp offers enhanced penetration and effectiveness of the product. Also, both occlusives, like ceramides and lipids, as well as humectants, like glycerin and hyaluronic, work best when there is more water on the skin, so you’ll see better results when these products are applied to damp instead of dry skin.” For best results, after washing your face, lightly pat your skin without removing all the water.
5. Avoid Over-Exfoliation
“During the colder winter months, the air is dryer, and typically not as much heat is brought to the skin (aka — you’re sweating less). This means less of your natural oil production is breaking the surface of your skin,” explains esthetician and founder of The OC Esthetician Geneva Stockdale-Shaw. While exfoliation certainly has its place in a skin care routine, it’s important not to overdo it to ensure you’re not disrupting your skin’s moisture barrier. Stick to exfoliating your skin twice a week, and opt for lactic acid as your exfoliator of choice (as it’s one of the more hydrating of the AHAs) or enzymes, which are effective at dissolving dead skin and debris on the surface of your skin, says Stockdale-Shaw.
6. Develop a Lip Care Routine
Though chapped lips can occur year-round, you’ll most likely experience it in wintertime. The cause? Moisture loss brought about by licking your lips, irritation from products, lack of moisture in the air, and prolonged winter activities like skiing. A good lip care routine doesn’t have to involve multiple steps and products, and Dr. Frank says you can get by with two steps: exfoliation and hydration. Lip scrubs exfoliate and remove dry skin while lip balms re-introduce hydration. “Shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, coconut butter, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, and cocoa butter are all beneficial ingredients for the lips,” says Dr. Frank.
Also, Dr. Loretta warns against using lip products that include fragrance, as these can cause or worsen chapping. “If you love color on your lips, try mixing [your lip product] with an ointment or essential oil and apply with a lip brush,” she notes.
7. Use Makeup-Skin Care Hybrid Products
Developing a proper skin care routine should always be the go-to if you’re looking to combat dry skin, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of makeup-skin care hybrids. “Many makeup products are infused with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamins, antioxidants, and even peptides to help give the appearance of natural, healthy, glowing skin,” Hernandez tells TZR. “Because there tends to be less moisture in the air during the winter months, it’s important to take all the hydration you can get, so using moisture-rich makeup is a good option.”
8. Invest In A Humidifier
Definitely add a humidifier to your list of wintertime must-haves. Hernandez notes that keeping one by your bedside table will keep your skin more hydrated and supple in general, especially for the more delicate areas like your lips and eyes. Not to mention, a humidifier may help you breathe better, which will lead to better beauty sleep.
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The key to leveraging your wintertime SPF? Go for one that has hydrating ingredients. This one from Everyday Humans is a serum-like option that boasts ingredients like hyaluronic acid and green tea extract for supple, hydrated, protected skin.
A hydrating moisturizer that doubles as a firming treatment? Check. Shea butter improves skin elasticity while a blend of retinoic esters help support collagen and cellular turnover.
This exfoliating mask calls out lactic acid and fruit enzymes as its hero ingredients for yielding radiant skin, minimized signs of aging, and overall more even texture.
Want another protective layer over your moisturizer for those extra freezing nights? This luxe occlusive balm is rich in botanicals to lock in moisture and soothe dry, irritated skin fast.
Blurring the line between makeup and skincare is this skin tint from YSL, which offers light to medium coverage and 24-hour hydration à la hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
Tackle dry, parched skin in minutes with Curel’s thick yet non-greasy hydrator. It contains an advanced ceramide complex to prevent itchy, tight skin that often comes with the season — plus, it offers relief for over 24 hours.
A tinted balm that feels like a full-fledged lip treatment? You can have both with this formula, which contains full spectrum hemp extract (which is great for fighting inflammation) plus shea, cocoa, and kokum butters.
Infused with hydrating ingredients, such as the brand’s proprietary moisture veil technology as well as jojoba and Abyssinian oil, this luxurious lip mask forms a velvety barrier to help prevent and repair chapped lips. Plus, the mirror on the bottom of the tub makes for easy application when you’re already snuggled in bed.
Winter can wreak havoc on your hands, fingers, and nail beds, which is why an ultra-hydrating hand cream like this one from La Chatelaine is a nightstand must. It’s infused with all of the top hydrating contenders like shea butter, vitamin E, and argan oil. The result: soft, smooth hands come morning.
Using full-machine H13 HEPA filtration, hygienic humidification, and Air Multiplier technology for whole-room purification, the latest from Dyson tackles cracked, dry, dull winter skin.
The mist-free and anti-mold technology make this compact and easy-to-clean humidifier one of the best investments you can make in your skin this winter. Keep it close to your bed to maintain skin hydration while you sleep.