Skincare woes top the list of reasons why I hate winter.
Blistering winds and sub-zero temps wreak havoc on my skin, and by this time of year, I’m ready to throw in the towel and hide out in my apartment until spring.
I know I’m not alone, though. Nearly everyone deals with some sort of winter-related beauty problem, be it chapped lips, dry skin, redness or dullness. While it seems these beauty concerns are unavoidable, they’re not — at least, not entirely.
Similar to how your wardrobe changes seasonally, your skincare routine should, too.
But, simply swapping out lightweight moisturizers for richer ones isn’t enough; your beauty cabinet should see a complete overhaul, with products designed specifically for protecting your skin from the elements.
If this all seems a bit confusing, it’s because it is.
Unless you’re a dermatologist, it's tricky to determine which ingredients lock in moisture best, or soothe the redness caused by harsh winds.
That’s where we come in.
We've recruited top skin guru Dr. Harold Lancer (dermatologist to Kim Kardashian and Victoria Beckham) to teach us everything there is to know about winter skincare needs.
From which ingredients to seek out, to the best products to add to your beauty arsenal, our comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about cold-weather beauty.
Follow our advice, and come spring, you’ll be looking as fresh as a damn daisy — even if they haven't bloomed yet.
1. Dry Skin
The Sitch: Dry, chapped skin tops the list of most common beauty concerns during the cooler months. That’s because once the temperature drops, so does the humidity. This, in turn, effectively strips the moisture from our skin (and blasting the heat only makes it worse).
Doctor's Orders: To combat dryness, Dr. Lancer suggests “adding in products that contain ceramides, which help to improve and maintain skin’s barrier function, as well as hyaluronic acid, [to] boost moisture levels.”
Ceramides are often used to treat eczema because they replenish the skin’s natural lipids and restore its natural barrier, preventing future damage.
Hyaluronic acid, on the other hand, is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the air to the skin. In fact, each molecule can retain over 1,000 times its weight in water, which, when applied topically, makes for some serious hydration.
What This Means For You: Those itchy, dry splotches are in serious need of some TLC.
The Fix: Look for products with a high concentration of the acid, like L'Oreal Revitalift Daily Volumizing Concentrated Serum ($25), for optimum moisturizing potential.
The Sitch: It looks like it's snowing on your face because your skin is so flaky.
Doctor's Orders: If you’re finding your skin is flaky, Dr. Lancer suggests “scal[ing] back on exfoliating acids (glycol, lactic, and fruit acids) or retinoids.” While these ingredients make wonderful exfoliants, they may be too harsh when combined with winter’s frigid, drying winds.
Instead, look for products with lightweight oils to create a hydrating barrier that keeps your skin from succumbing to the elements.
What This Means For You: Unless you're a snake, ditch the chemicals to shed all that scaly skin.
Plus, it’s non-comedogenic — it won’t clog your pores — and organic. Any similar facial oil will have comparable benefits; but peek at the ingredient list to make sure there aren’t any harsh chemicals to counteract the oil’s soothing properties.
The Sitch: It's totally grey outside and so is your skin. You can't even achieve that "glow" from cuffing season.
Doctor's Orders: The number one thing you can do to combat dullness is exfoliate. Dr. Lancer suggests minimizing the usage of chemical exfoliants, so look for a facial cleanser with microbeads, which are gentler than natural exfoliants like crushed seeds.
It’s best to exfoliate a few times a week. On the other days, wash with a creamy facial cleanser that's preferably sulfate-free. Though sulfates produce a better lather, they can strip too much from the skin.
What This Means For You: Slough away dead skin to reveal a healthy, youthful glow.
The Fix: A good bet? Neal’s Yard Wild Rose Beauty Balm ($70), which includes rejuvenating patchouli, antioxidant-rich rose hip seed oil, and starflower, known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
It's pricey, but so is Botox.
The Sitch: Rudolph isn't the only red guy in town anymore.
Doctor's Orders: Redness in the winter has two causes: irritation and sunburn. As Dr. Lancer explains, “Just because it's winter does not mean you should forgo the use of sunscreen. Make sure [to use] an SPF of at least 30 every day."
What This Means For You: Follow Mom's advice and always use protection.
The Fix: Look for daily moisturizers with sunscreen, such as Fresh Black Tea Age Delay SPF 20 ($65), which includes nourishing natural ingredients, like black tea and lychee seed extract, to fight free radicals and repair damage.
Another great pick is Sephora Collection Intensive Instant Moisturizer ($22), which contains Vitamin E and white tea extract, both of which repair damage and protect against environmental damage (you’ll need to get your SPF elsewhere, however).