Even the most stout-skinned of us need to brace our faces against harsh winter weather. If your skin is sensitive, you’ve probably come to fear winter like the zombie apocalypse. And unfortunately, it’s not just Jack Frost’s nose nips that put our skin through the ringer. The colder it gets out, the harder we pump the heat indoors. Our days then consist of going from cold to hot to cold. This constant switching from bitter cold to incredibly drying convection heat and back to bitter cold again can severely stress and deplete skin. Here are some tips and tools to give skin the extra protection it needs in winter.
- To begin…In summer, we leave the house in nothing but a tank dress and sandals. DONE. In winter, it’s a hat, gloves, scarf, sweater, parka, etc. In the same vein, if you leave your house in winter with your face “wearing” the same old products as it does in summer, you’re leaving your face incredibly under-protected. too exposed to the elements and environment.
- Expand your product arsenal. Using a (gentle) cleanser, toner, scrub, serum/essence, balm, oil, cream and SPF is NOT excessive for winter months. When you use each product—and how much you use—depends on your skin’s needs. Experiment with different combinations to see which makes your skin the happiest and look its best. If you apply a product and see your skin is drinking it in, add another. Your skin obviously needs it. One caveat: Try to keep your SPF as a standalone product, and don’t have it be the first product you put on clean skin, as it will only clog pores. Apply a toner and at least a serum first, so a layer is created between the SPF and your skin.
- Calm down with the cleansing. At this time of year, your skin needs every drop of moisture it can get, so don’t strip it twice a day with an industrial strength cleanser. As much as you may love a soapy, foamy, bubbly face wash (I know I do), switch to a gentler cleanser, at least until April. You can’t go wrong with B. Kamins Laboratories Vegetable Cleanser, or for a more luxe choice, try Sapelo Skin Care Seaweed Cleanser. For a real moisture surge, use a cleansing balm. In the winter (well, all year round, really) we love Cosmetics 27 Cleanser 27 by M.E. SkinLab and the cult favorite Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. Both balms are silky, gentle, all-natural and full of high quality botanical ingredients that not only deeply cleanse skin, but also nourish and repair it.
- I love—LOVE—my steamy (read: scalding) showers…especially on a cold winter morning! You too? Well, as good as we know that hot water feels, we must resist the temptation to stand under a scalding shower stream to warm ourselves up. As I’ve aged, I’ve really seen—and felt—the toll that super-hot (and therefore super-drying) water has taken on my skin…from scalp to sole. The skin on my legs and tops of my feet, where the water hits most often, seems impossible to keep smooth and dewy these days. So keep the shower water warm—tepid even. If you can’t tolerate the tepidness for an entire shower, aim for at least a portion of it. The most beneficial moments to turn down the temp would be when you’re rinsing off shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.
- While you’re in the shower, exfoliate. Everywhere. I know I’m entering broken record territory here about exfoliating; I only mention it in EVERY SINGLE BLOG POST. But really, exfoliating regularly will TRANSFORM your skin—face…body…all of it. Lavido’s Gentle Exfoliator Peeling Cream for face is super-gentle, with Oyster Shell Powder and Pomegranate Peel Grains to provide a subtle scrubbing action. For body, Glytone Body Wash, with—you guessed it—glycolic acid, is the gold standard exfoliating wash. It is definitely not a “green” product, though, so if you want to stay away from chemicals, the Sasawashi Mesh Body Scrub Towel, Yu-be Foaming Skin Polish Body Scrub and Mio Skincare Double Buff Dual Enzyme Exfoliator are solid exfoliator choices that provide manual, as opposed to chemical (like Glytone), exfoliation. Yu-be Foaming Skin Polish and Mio Skincare Double Buff can both also be used on your face. Don’t forget your scalp, too! Does your scalp dry up once temperatures drop? Philip Kingsley’s Exfoliating Scalp Mask is brilliant. Not just for a healthy scalp, but for the overall quality of your hair. Healthy scalp=happy, beautiful hair.
- Even in winter, use an acid. Work a peeling/exfoliating product into your routine 1-2 times a day (only once at night if your skin is particularly sensitive/reactive). Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads are my hands-down favorite. They come in several different “strengths”, so even those with sensitive skin can use them. Follow your peel pads with a spritz or cotton pad soaked swipe of a hydrating toner (we know you read our recent blog post on toners, right?!) before applying your serum. Quick note on toners: This is the time of year to avoid all alcohol-heavy products. They are incredibly drying and irritating, especially after an AHA product.
- Multimask! Though you should continue to use face masks year round, opt for more hydrating ones in the winter, as opposed to detoxifying clay/mud/charcoal based ones. If you have combination skin that still breaks out occasionally in winter, you can always multimask! Use a deep-cleansing/detoxifying mask on your T-zone and problem areas, like Binchotan Facial Cleansing Mask then a moisturizing mask on cheeks and drier areas. Winter is also the perfect time to work a hydrating sleep mask into your skin care routine. And honestly, any creamy mask can be a “sleep mask”, just apply before bed and leave it on overnight. The best of the best? Celeb (and royalty) favorite, Heaven Skincare’s Bee Venom Mask.
What are your cold weather skin care hacks? Let us know in the comments!