I can always tell when winter weather has arrived just by the way my skin behaves. The signs come in the form of small dry spots that form on my cheeks or excessive dryness around my T-zone area. I really can't avoid it, but after a lot of skin-care trial and error, I've found exactly what works to make up for the immense moisture loss my skin experiences as temperatures drop. Many think that more oils and lotions are enough, but they couldn't be more wrong.
I spoke with one of beauty's most knowledgable dermatologists, Dr. Jeremy Brauer, about why our skin reacts the way it does in the winter, and what we can do to fix it. I also detail my tried-and-true skin care routine that helps me weather the storm (no pun intended).
Yes, you still need to wear sunscreen.
"One common misconception is that you don’t need to wear sunscreen during the winter months because the sun isn’t as strong," Brauer says. "It’s true that UVB rays are weaker this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you can pass on sunscreen. UVA rays, which cause sun damage (pigment and wrinkles) and skin cancer, are present year-round, so even if it’s raining or snowing outside, you’re still at a risk. It’s always a good rule of thumb to select a 'Broad Spectrum' UVA/UVB protective sunscreen such as ISDIN’s Eryfotona Actinica."
Read your product labels and look for hydrating ingredients.
"To maintain and improve skin barrier function, look for products with ceramides and glycerin, which aid in moisturization and prevention of dryness. Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, also helps improve moisture in the skin."
Use thicker moisturizers than you would in the summer.
"Winter months call for thicker moisturizing agents to keep skin from flaking and protect from redness. The cold, dry air outdoors and dry indoor heating can definitely take a toll on your skin. Applying both a serum, such as Skinbetter Science Alto Defense Serum, and a thick moisturizer is often the key. In the spring and summer, I recommend applying more lightweight products. Warmer months generally mean higher humidity, so for normal, combo, or oily skin, continue to moisturize, but use a lightweight product to avoid creating excess oil production."
But don't overdo it.
"Yes, it’s possible to overmoisturize," Brauer says. "Some people think the more you moisturize, the more effective it will be, but that’s actually another misconception. Overmoisturizing can result in occlusion, which presents itself in the form of whiteheads and blackheads, bumpy skin, and excess oil."
Switch to a gentler cleanser, especially if you have sensitive skin.
"Cleansers that will keep skin hydrated, such as those that are hyaluronic acid–based, are likely your best bet for the dry winter months," Brauer said. "If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to use a soothing gentle cleanser. Make sure that the exfoliator you use does not strip skin of its natural moisture and dry it out."
I have combination skin that shifts drastically to dry in the winter months. Because of that, I've had to find the perfect products to avoid a less than desirable appearance of dry, scaly skin. These are my six go-tos that my skin starves without.
Nyakio Sweet Almond Cleansing Oil Balm, $28
8 Faces Boundless Solid Oil, $88
Lancome Miel-En-Mousse Foaming Cleansing Makeup Remover with Acacia Honey, $40
Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel Cream, $13
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra™ Intensive Hydration Serum, $52
Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum, $48