When it’s cold outside, it’s tempting to stay inside. And for beauty maximalists, in particular, wintertime offers the chance to embrace being antisocial and try some products and procedures that call for rest and recovery.
If you’ve heard people talking a lot about Morpheus—and then quickly realized they weren’t discussing a character from The Matrix—this might be your cue to try the microneedling procedure known as Morpheus8. Kim Kardashian has used it to tighten her stomach, calling it a “game changer” on Instagram. Morpheus8 combines microneedling with radio frequency to address the loss of elasticity, loose skin, and scars (especially from acne) and boosts collagen formation. For best results by spring, doing three sessions is ideal, advises Loretta Ciraldo, MD, and you’ll need at least two to four weeks between each session.
Maybe you’ve tried Fraxel or Clear + Brilliant lasers, but Lara Devgan, MD, suggests opting for the erbium laser, which she calls a “skin reset.” It brings “significant improvement to sun and age spots, and softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says. Typical downtime includes one to two days of mild to moderate redness and five to seven days of dry skin—and also calls for completely avoiding direct sun exposure (Devgan even recommends wearing SPF indoors). Providers can adjust the laser to work for different Fitzpatrick skin types, and Devgan calls it “worth it,” with clients seeing a resurfacing and rejuvenating glow after about four weeks post-treatment. (Many of her patients will schedule this two or three times a year.) Following the laser, use a product like Dr. Lara Devgan Resveratrol Night Cream, which contains green tea and resveratrol, the plant-derived antioxidant, to help soothe the skin barrier.
Sock season is also the time to tackle varicose or spider veins, if you find them pesky. Sclerotherapy can address the larger of these red, blue, or flesh-colored veins, often better than lasers can, says New York City dermatologist Elena Jones, MD. Jones (who is also known as Pharrell’s skin doctor) explains the process: She injects a solution such as concentrated salt or glucose with small-gauge needles into each vessel, which helps the veins “stick together.” Sclerotherapy is minimally invasive but can cause up to six months of bruising and discoloration; do it now and you can wear shorts by summer.
Or consider a lip lift during your winter hibernation. During this increasingly popular procedure, a surgeon uses a small incision to reduce the space between the nose and lip, which can provide the appearance of up to a 20 percent volume increase, says Andrew Jacono, MD. He says that the procedure is ideal for people who like the look of fuller lips, but prefer something more natural and long-lasting than injectables. A lip lift takes 45 minutes, with a virtually undetectable scar (it’s hidden in the curves of your nose), and recovery time is about five to seven days.
Dermatologists generally agree on two things: sunscreen and retinol. “Retinol is perhaps the best-studied ingredient we have to stimulate collagen production, improve the appearance of wrinkles, and even [out] skin tone and texture,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD. But the weeks-long adjustment period to retinol, which includes redness and flaking skin, is known colloquially as the “retinol uglies.” If you’re interested in trying a prescription retinoid, December would be a good time to begin the process. Or you could try an over-the-counter retinoid serum, like Beauty Pie Youthbomb Double Retinol Action Skin Overhaul Serum, which combines a microencapsulated form of retinol that reduces irritation, with niacinamide for a brightening benefit.
A version of this story appears in the December/January issue of ELLE.
As ELLE’s beauty editor, Margaux wants to try it all and do it all…and she does. She’s not afraid to chop, slather, dye, swipe, inject, and more—and if it’s worth your time and money, she’ll rave about it here.