Here's How To Keep Your Skin Looking Great During Harsh Winter Weather
Keep that epidermis from cracking when the temps get cold.
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Unless you’re one of the rare few humans — or, perhaps, cyborgs — who’ve been blessed with near-perfect skin year-round, you’re probably well-aware of the havoc that winter can wreak on your pretty face.
The wind, freezing temperatures, and lack of moisture that winter months bring can all take a toll, causing even generally “normal” skin (i.e., not too oily, not too dry, not eczema- or acne-prone) to dry out quickly.
While the effects of changing weather will obviously vary based on region — shoutout to extreme Northeast winters! — in general, if you reside in a windier, colder, and/or more arid area during the wintertime, you’ll probably want to reassess your current skincare regimen. By making some small tweaks and looking for a few key ingredients, you may be able to effectively combat the forces of Mother Nature.
“One of the biggest things is to ‘listen’ to your skin,” advises
Dhaval G. Bhanusali, MD, FAAD, a New York–based dermatologist.
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"You tend to notice when things start changing and may have slight dryness or irritation, particularly in places like the lips or under eyes where the skin is thinner," he says. " Whether temps drop from 90 degrees to 70 or 70 to 35, your skin can react, and it’s important to start nurturing it so it continues to function as it should — and protect you!”
As with introducing any new skincare product into your routine, you may have to experiment with finding the ones that work best for you. Below are some dermatologist-recommended tips for winter-proofing your face, no matter your skin type.
Opt for a less-drying cleanser.
Dr. Bhanusali advises his patients to switch to more gentle cleansers — you’ll want to avoid drying ones with ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid. You might want to make the switch to oil cleansers once the temperatures start to dip, as Anthony M. Rossi MD, FAAD, assistant attending at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, suggests. “They help to cleanse the skin without overdrying,” he says. “
Knours Oil to Foam Facial Cleanser is great, or Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Oil. For really sensitive skin, Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser is very mild.”
Try a thicker moisturizer.
If your skin veers toward the dry side normally, as winter approaches you can start to apply an even thicker, richer moisturizer as needed, like good ol’
Vaseline (we see you, Mom!) or even Aquaphor, says Dr. Bhanusali. You can also try using a moisturizing mask as an all-day hydrator; Dr. Rossi recommends Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask, but for a more affordable all-day option, we like the Fresh Rose Face Mask.
Incorporate hyaluronic acid.
“I like products that have hyaluronic acid, given its ability to retain water better than any other ingredient out there,” Dr. Bhanusali says. He recommends
Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost gel moisturizer, a quick-absorbing formula that works well under makeup. (The Hydro Boost line also includes an eye cream and cleanser at wallet-friendly prices.)
Use a nighttime oil.
argan oil at night can be particularly beneficial for those with acne, explains Dr. Bhanusali, because it helps decrease oil secretion while still providing your skin with hydration. “I personally think it’s even better for the face than the hair,” he says. Dr. Rossi echoes this sentiment and recommends Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate (great for dry skin) or Sisley Rose Oil (if fine lines are a concern) as additional options for a nighttime oil.
Cut down on retinol.
“You may want to cut down on the retinol if it feels like it’s too drying and making you flake,” Dr. Rossi says. If any of your regular products include retinol, he advises limiting the use of the ingredient to once or twice a week during the harsher winter ones. If you’re looking to target fine lines, you can swap in an antioxidant serum, like
SkinCeutical’s Serum 20 AOX+, for your retinol-based products.
Get a humidifier.
Without sufficient moisture in the air, your skin is likely to be zapped of the hydration it needs. “Sixty percent or more humidity is helpful for dry skin,” Dr. Rossi says. “Adding a humidifier to your bedroom or office will really help, especially when the heat is on during the cold months.” For one that won’t break the bank, try
When all else fails: See a dermatologist.
If you’ve got acne-prone skin and you’re having trouble finding products that work for you throughout the winter months, Dr. Bhanusali recommends
Skin Medicinal’s compounded retinoids, available only at dermatology offices. “Dermatologists select prescription ingredients and create a compound that’s specific to a patient’s skin,” he says. “The end result is a prescription medication that helps with acne but also can tackle some of the other issues like dryness.”
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