In case the excitement of autumn and everything that comes along with it has made you forget, consider this your friendly reminder: Winter is coming. And since the shift between seasons inevitably arrives sooner rather than later, these 11 winter skin care tips will keep you and your skin care routine prepared no matter how frigid and blistery the weather gets.
Winter is a glorious time of year (especially if you're fond of peppermint mochas, holiday shopping, and snuggling up in blarfs, aka blanket scarves), but the not-so-glorious weather itself can pose real threats to your skin. "Winter climate brings low humidity due to the dry, indoor heating conditions," explains Dr. Sue Ann Wee of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC over email. "This low humidity can have a drying effect on skin, and dry skin is more susceptible to cracking, irritation, and infection."
If you don't take action and switch up your skin care routine to fight off winter weather, your skin will be rough, patchy, and thirsting for some TLSC (tender loving skin care, that is) that it deserves. Don't let it get to that point, and follow these 11 tips to change your skin care routine for winter instead.
1. Avoid Long, Hot Showers And Baths
While a long, hot, and relaxing bath might sound like the only thing your body needs after spending an ungodly amount of time outside in cold weather, Wee advises against it. "Avoid long, hot showers/baths as prolonged water contact can leach out the water-soluble, natural moisturizing factors out of the skin, contributing to dry, irritated skin," she says.
2. Layer Your Skin Care Products
Another way to avoid water drying out your skin is to create multiple barriers by layering your skincare products. "Ceramides, lipids and cholesterol help form the top layer of the epidermis and hot water removes the surface lipids, allowing the moisture to leak out of your skin, causing dryness," further explains Dr. Dendy Engelman, Dermatologist and Dermatologic Surgeon at MDCS, over email. "So although initially it can moisturize, when the lipids are gone, water can actually dry skin even more." She recommends applying different layers of products, like skin boosters, mists, and moisturizers one after the other, instead of using just one single heavy cream, to fight against further dryness to the skin.
3. Use A Humidifier
The one thing you despise in summertime may just be your saving grace in the winter: humidity. "Wintertime cold temperatures and indoor heating cause low humidity which can dry out skin," Wee says, so "consider using a humidifier to keep indoor air at normal humidity levels."
4. Use Hydrating Face Masks
Anti-Oxidant Hydration Gel Masque, $120 for 20 Packs, Diskincare
If for some odd reason you needed to be convinced to do a face mask (any reason to do a face mask is a good reason, amirite?), here's your wintertime-specific reason: "Use a mask to boost hydration and give your face extra attention," says Engelman. She recommends masks that have botanicals, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter — all ingredients that promote hydration and moisture — to ensure your skin stays plump, soft, and smooth.
5. If You're Early, Switch Your Moisturizer Ahead Of Time
"Switching to a more robust moisturizer, such as an oil or ointment based moisturizer can help keep skin more hydrated during winter," Wee says. So, before winter hits research a new go-to moisturizer that can prevent water loss from skin, like "petroleum-based ointments such as Vaseline petrolatum jelly." Avoid gels and lotions, Wee adds, since those products have more alcohol and preservatives that may irritate and/or dry out your skin.
6. If You're Late, Ask Your Derm About Barrier Repair Creams
Depending on where you live, winter might already be in full effect. If that's the case for you, Wee says you shouldn't be shy about asking your dermatologist about barrier repair creams — AKA skin care magic that can prevent more damage to your already winter-worn epidermis. "Studies have shown that barrier repair creams such as Epiceram can moisturize the skin and repair the skin barrier, but these require a prescription," Wee explains. Speak to your dermatologist directly about what kind of moisturizer would work best for your specific skin type and needs.
7. Use Cooling Products
Dry skin is one major affect of winter weather on your largest organ. But it doesn't stop there, because another just as annoying and frustrating affect is skin redness. Although, Dr. Engelman says adding a cooling beauty product to your routine can relieve redness significantly. With a cooling product (such as SkinCeuticals’ Redness Reducing Gel, above), "blood vessels constrict causing the appearance of broken or enlarged capillaries to visibly reduce," she explains.
8. Don't Forget SPF
Even though it may seem like the sun has forgot all about you in the dead of winter, don't be mistaken; the sun's UV rays are still around, and yes, they can still damage your skin. "Although it’s cold outside, there is UV radiation all year round, and snow-covered ground can significantly increase UV radiation exposure due to reflection," Wee explains. Basically, don't factor SPF out of your winter skincare routine just because it's not summer.
9. Stay Hydrated
Even though the list of delicious winter libations goes on and on, your skin can benefit from some restrain on the pumpkin spice lattes and just drinking good ole' H20 instead. "Our bodies are made of 70 percent water, which keeps our cells plump and healthy," Engelman says. "If you’re not drinking enough, your body (and your skin) gets dehydrated.
10. Stay Active
While this tip isn't exactly directly related to skincare, staying active even when the weather is less than pleasant can aid your skin in cold conditions. "There is such a thing as Seasonal Affective Disorder which is thought to occur when daily body rhythms become out-of-sync because of the reduced sunlight," Engelman explains. "Exercising helps your body release endorphins, otherwise known as your feel good hormones... and also helps boost circulation which translates to glowing skin."
11. See A Dermatologist
Let's say that in addition to the way your skin reacts to wintertime weather, you also have another skin issue like eczema, rosacea, or even acne. If that's true, and this all sounds a little overwhelming, Wee recommends speaking to a professional directly about what changes in your routine will work best for you. "It’s best to see a dermatologist who can design a winter skin care regimen based on an individual’s skin type that also addresses any underlying skin conditions," she says.
Reading this, it may seem like this winter is endless even though it hasn't quite yet officially begun. But at least with these 11 winter skincare tips, your skin won't have to suffer through the frigid season. You might still have to brace yourself every time you walk out the door, but at least with these tips in your skincare routine you can do it with hydrated, plump, and glowing skin!