Cold Weather Skin Care 101

Wake up and smell the pumpkin spice, winter is just a cider donut’s throw away. But just as we prep our homes for the colder months with heated blankets, firewood and plenty of soup-making essentials, we also need to prep the other thing we live in: our skin. 

Growing up in Florida, I never paid much attention to how my skin’s needs changed per season (What is snow?). But now every year when my furnace kicks on it feels like my skin turns into sandpaper. Truth is, the cold, dry air outdoors and hot, dry air indoors can seriously dehydrate our skin, making it prone to irritation and exacerbating any conditions you may already be dealing with. 

10 Cold Weather Skin Care Tips

But there is a lot of cold weather skin care information out there. Like, the Fast & Furious franchise level a lot. To make it easy, I’ve created this list of 10 tips to help you better look after your skin during the winter months:

1. Go easy on the actives.

AHAs, BHAs, retinol … these ingredients do amazing things for your skin. But just like eating Nutella straight from the jar, you can overdo it very quickly. This leaves your skin red, tight, itchy and dry. Stick to one at a time, day or night.

2. Dial down the scrubbing.

Physical exfoliants (scrubs, brushes, sponges, etc.) are too harsh for everyday use because they actually create microtears in the skin (no thank you). Stick to a very fine scrub (no coffee grounds, walnut shells or beads) once or twice a week.

3. Stay hydrated from the inside out.

Chugging water all day will not solve all your skin woes, no matter what the supermodels say. But keeping your body hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and eating water-rich foods (melon, cucumber, bell peppers, etc.) is always important.

4. Use a heavier moisturizer at nighttime.

While we’re sleeping, our skin is repairing itself, trying to undo the wear and tear from sun exposure, our Zoom makeup look or that wine we had with dinner. This is the ideal time to use a richer moisturizer with ingredients like ceramides or fatty acids. 

5. Skip the scalding showers.

A steaming, hot shower is my winter safe place. If I could use my laptop in the shower, that would be my office. But hot water zaps the moisture from your skin and can worsen conditions like acne and eczema. Aim for shorter showers, as cool as you can stand.

6. Consider adding an oil.

Using an oil as a last step in your routine can help lock in moisture, but you need to pick one created solely for skin care (Put down the coconut oil. It will be OK.). It could be a blend or a pure oil like squalene, marula or jojoba, all non-comedogenic options.

7. Add more humidity to your environment.

Anyone else’s skin itchy by the end of the day? Wake up with a stuffy nose or dry throat? Keep moisture in the air with a humidifier to protect your skin. Run it while you sleep and wake up with more hydrated skin.

8. Keep applying sunscreen.

It may be hibernation season, but applying sunscreen should still be a daily practice. Windows are not UVA and UVB blockers so keep slathering it on. Those screens we’re parked in front of all day also emit potentially damaging blue light

9. Mist away dry skin (and stress).

I like to keep a face mist on my desk or in my bag for a quick refresh throughout the day. Find one with a smell you love for a bit of invigorating aromatherapy.

10. Don’t skip the small spots.

We’ve all become well acquainted with hand cream by now, but don’t forget your feet, elbows and knees. Also, keep a saline spray on hand. Dry nasal passages are a welcome environment for the common cold.

You know your skin best. Once you find a routine that’s working for you, stick with it. Consistency will keep your skin happy all winter long and beyond. Share your favorite winter skincare products with me in the comments.

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