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Winter has officially kicked off, and with colder months comes a change in humidity, exposure to indoor heaters, and blustery winds that actually can make skin feel drier and look duller. In order to guard against cold weather-induced concerns like dryness and flaky skin, you may need to make a few adjustments to your winter skin-care routine. Thankfully, combatting wintertime’s cold, dry air won’t require an entirely new, luxury regimen — all you need is a few dermatologist-approved recommendations to keep you and your skin covered until spring.
According to Tiffany J. Libby, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and director of Mohs micrographic and dermatologic surgery at Brown University, rough, dry skin, also referred to as xerosis, is one of the biggest skin-care concerns her clients come across when winter weather is in full effect. “Our skin is a dynamic organ, interfacing with the external environment constantly, so in the winter when the air is cold and dry it can strip the skin of its moisture, leaving it feeling dry, itchy, and irritated,” she said. “Even when indoors, the use of heaters can be drying which can further exacerbate this.”
Kim Nichols, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Greenwich, Connecticut, also agrees that dryness is one of the biggest winter-centric concerns of her clients, but other skin health matters that rise when the temperature lowers include redness, rosacea flare-ups, and UV damage. “It is so important to slather on sunscreen year-round, not just in the summertime,” she says. “Winter sun combined with snow glare can still damage your skin.” Dr. Nichols recommends applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30 to your face, hands, and all exposed areas of skin about 30 minutes before going outside, and reapply frequently (about every two hours) if you stay outside a long time.
If any of these skin-care concerns are on your mind (and your skin), these dermatologist-approved skin-care products are exactly what you need. Below, take a look at some of the most effective formulas for addressing your wintertime skin needs, no matter how chilly the weather gets.
The Allure Best of Beauty-winning SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 is like a cashmere sweater for your skin. It feels buttery and leaves skin with a velvet-smooth texture, plus, Dr. Nichols gives its ceramide-spiked formula two thumbs up for tackling dryness and flaking caused by cold air.
To address dryness from the neck down, Dr. Nichols says to switch over to a richer body lotion like the EltaMD Moisture-Rich Body Creme. This custardy, thick body cream is suitable for dry and sensitive skin types alike, thanks to its fragrance-free, skin-enhancing blend of hydrating hyaluronic acid and moisture-locking mango seed butter. As an added bonus, this body lotion is also infused with niacinamide, an ingredient known for its brightening and acne-addressing properties.
To ease dryness, adding a hydrating serum into your regimen is essential, but you don’t have to splurge on an expensive one to see results. One of our team’s favorite skin-quenching serums is The Inkey List’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum, a 2022 Allure Best of Beauty winner that instantly absorbs into the skin while treating it to hyaluronic acid, which holds 1,000 times its weight in water.
When it comes to moisture-retaining classics, little comes close to the powers of Aquaphor’s Healing Ointment, which is beloved by Dr. Nichols for addressing chapped areas of skin like the lips and feet. This fragrance-free mixture of petroleum jelly, mineral oil, glycerin, and lanolin acts as an emollient to seal in moisture and soften skin without irritating sensitive skin types.
Yes, the Caudalie Premier Cru The Cream is technically targeted towards fine lines and wrinkles. But, considering the fact that this Allure Best of Beauty winner is infused with hyaluronic acid, it’s also the perfect fit for your winter skin-care routine. This pick won our highest accolade in our rich moisturizer category for its custardy texture and intensively conditioning formula.
When it comes to managing weather-induced sensitivity and redness, both Dr. Nichols and James Y. Wang, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Los Angeles, recommend opting for a gentle cleanser with moisture-replenishing ingredients, like the La Roche Posay Lipikar Wash AP+. “This cleanser avoids over-stripping the skin of natural oils, which are needed to protect the skin barrier against the elements,” says Dr. Wang. This face and body wash is infused with a trio of conditioning shea butter, moisture-sealing glycerin, and brightening niacinamide for your best complexion yet.
Sunscreen is the biggest non-negotiable product in your skin-care routine, so treat your skin to the very best — which is actually this under-$20 drugstore sunscreen, according to Dr. Nichols. The CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 is a mineral-based formula that guards the skin against UV rays while hydrating it with a powerhouse duo of ceramides and hyaluronic acid.
Dry, chapped hands can happen to just about anyone during the winter, so keep your paws moisturized with the Allure Best of Beauty-winning Evolvetogether Hand Cream. This delightful formula intensely moisturizes with glycerin and antioxidant vitamins B5, C, and E without leaving a greasy film behind. It comes in three different scents that smell oh-so luxe, including the warm, spicy Havana, rose-forward Monaco, and lavender-vanilla Provence.
Dr. Libby says the Bio-Oil Dry Skin Gel is packed with skin-conditioning additives to smooth and soften your face and body all winter long. “It’s an intensive moisturizer, formulated with only 3 percent water, with the rest of the ingredients being emollients like shea butter, humectants like glycerin and urea, and skin barrier-supporting and soothing ingredients like vitamin B3,” she says.
Another winter go-to for Dr. Libby is the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream. This conditioning concoction contains a mix of emollients and humectants like glycerin, glyceryl stearate, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E for maximum moisture retention.
When your lips are feeling chapped and dry, Dr. Libby says to whip out the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. This ever-iconic lip mask has won Allure Best of Beauty and Readers’ Choice Awards for its vitamin C- and shea butter-rich blend that smooths and softens lips overnight, and even Dr. Libby says she “can’t live without it.”
Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser is tough on buildup, makeup, and grime, but super gentle on tired, sensitive, and dry skin. It cleanses via Poloxamer, a powerful but kind cleansing agent that won’t strip your skin; rosewater to soothe; and comfrey root extract, a healing herb that comforts stressed skin. It also contains pro-vitamin B5, a naturally-occurring moisturizer, and aquaxl, an ingredient that plumps the skin and improves barrier function to prevent moisture loss. It’s massaged onto dry skin as a jelly; then once water is added, it transforms into a milky consistency.
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you; your skin can actually become duller in the winter months. To brighten your complexion while sloughing away dullness-inducing dead skin, exfoliate about once a week with The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, which has received much buzz in the skin-care community for its potency and price tag. This 10-minute at-home peel promotes cell turnover to reveal radiant, happy skin.
For a heavier oil option, consider Sunday Riley’s Juno. It’s formulated with a complex blend of antioxidant-rich, highly moisturizing botanical oils, including blueberry seed oil, chardonnay grape seed oil, and broccoli seed oil. It feels thick on the skin, but in a comforting way, and takes a good 15 minutes before it’s completely soaked up. Apply before bed, in the early morning, or try adding a couple of drops to your foundation for a more hydrating base.
Seal your winter skin-care routine with a sturdy cream, which should be applied after toners, oils, and serums. Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream is a unique option because of its proprietary hydropatches that suck moisture from the air to your skin. The formula further moisturizes with rose and plum seed oils while angelica leaf helps retain that moisture, hyaluronic acid plumps, and rosewater calms and nourishes.
Another great winter pick-me-up is Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Hydra-Gel Eye Patches. Thirty pairs are delivered in a jar that’s been filled with a luxe blend of hyaluronic acid to plump, ceramides to strengthen and lock in moisture, hydrolyzed collagen to promote elasticity, antioxidants to brighten and protect, and pro-vitamin B5 to hydrate and soothe.
Reach for Kiehl’s Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Mask if you have seriously stressed skin that needs an instant pick-me-up. This five-minute gel mask feels cool against your skin and contains ultra-soothing ingredients to calm, brighten, soften, and generously moisturize. As the product name makes obvious, it contains hand-picked calendula petals, an anti-inflammatory superhero ingredient that reduces redness and swelling; and aloe vera, a longtime soothing, hydrating fave.
Treat your skin to more Allure-approved essentials:
- Here’s Why You Need a Body Butter in Your Skin-Care Routine
- The Best Niacinamide Products for Your Brightest Complexion Yet
- 15 Shea Butter-Spiked Products for Soft, Supple Skin
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