I know everyone wants to find out how to get and maintain a healthy winter skin, which is not an easy thing to do if you’re living in a cold and harsh climate. But, that’s why we’re here - to share with you every trick there is, every “do” and “don’t”, every essential step for a soft and flawless look even in the coldest winter.
So, you ask what are the best winter skincare tips? This is our answer.
To really understand why you should follow all of the below-mentioned tips and be motivated about maintaining them throughout the whole winter, we believe you need to need to understand what happens to your skin when the climate starts to change and the temperatures go down.
It might not seem like the most interesting paragraph, but trust me: you don’t want to skip it. It will give you context and help you make much more sense of everything we’ll be discussing later.
Our body can only live in homeostasis (an optimal and consistent internal environment) which is why it’s always doing everything it can to maintain it.
This is why, when the temperature in the external environment changes, our body must adjust so that the internal environment stays unaffected, and it achieves it with thermoregulation (maintaining this optimum temperature).
And, this goes both ways. When it becomes too hot, we sweat (among other things) so that our internal temperature doesn’t get too high. Besides, skin problems arise when it’s really hot too, so you can check out our article to find out the best skincare tips for summer days.
When it becomes too cold, we shiver, and a process of vasoconstriction of the skin’s cells begins in order for the body to prevent heat loss. This leaves a lot of consequences.
Low temperatures can cause hypothermia, winter rash, dry skin, irritations, and inflammation, and make your skin more prone to conditions like eczema, wrinkles, fine lines, and cracks.
Cold wind and wind, coupled with low humidity can overdry the skin, make it more sensitive, flaky, itchy, and red.
Here’s how to prevent this:
Recent research in the British Journal of Dermatology gave us scientific proof that climatic factors influence skin health. More specifically, the researchers analyzed the natural moisturizing factor and the texture of the skin in 80 volunteers during winter and summer. The findings confirmed that during winter the natural moisturizing factor of the skin on the face is reduced, making the face drier and more textured. The results shed light on the importance of using season-appropriate skincare products and modifying your skincare routine. Generally it’s recommended that you use products with emollient formulations.
So, even though our skin, just like our body, loves consistency, when the environment drastically changes, we need to be prepared to change products and habits. Your aim is to help your skin better adjust, rather than making things worse.
And, no worries. You can always go back to your favorite skincare products once the temperature starts to rise.
If you don’t like changes, then think of it like two constant seasonal skincare routines. One for winter and one for summer. Find, what fits you best in one season and another, and stick with that.
If you have dry skin, I’m guessing you already have a gentle and fragrance-free, creamy or gel-like type of cleanser. If that’s the case, this is one step you can take off your mind, because you’re already set. But, in most cases, people with oily, acne-prone or normal skin are used to bar-soaps or stronger products, which can now work against you.
Here’s a handy guide on how to choose the best cleanser for your skin type. Make sure you buy one that works well on for dry skin, even if you don’t normally have dry skin!
For people with dry skin, for whom winter is particularly hard, don’t fall in the temptation to skip cleansing. Instead, go for a highly-concentrated oil-based type of cleanser, which can be really nurturing for the skin.
The first thing you can change is the exfoliating timeline. Maybe you had a habit of exfoliating your skin in the morning before work. This can be a problem since your skin will be vulnerable and exposed to the frosty air outside your home. For example, a better practice might be to exfoliate your skin before going to bed or when you are planning to stay at home.
The second thing you can change is the type of exfoliants you use. Swap your physical exfoliants for chemical exfoliants. Physical exfoliants can be too harsh on your, now, more sensitive winter skin, and cause irritation, damage, or even more dryness. Chemical exfoliants, on the other hand, can be gentler on the skin and won’t make your skin flaky.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize, and then moisturize some more. As we mentioned, as science has confirmed, cold weather strips away your skin’s natural moisture and makes it really dry.
It’s important that you don’t skip cleansing and toning before you apply a moisturizer. With the first two steps, you hydrate your skin and you use the moisturizer to lock the water inside the skin’s cells.
This is why in winter, moisturizers are your best friends. You can moisturize your skin, as many times as you feel the need. If you're still skeptical about moisturizing every day, check out our article on the 9 amazing benefits of moisturizing your face daily.
And if, at the end of the day your skin still feels dry оr flaky you can consider using a heavier moisturizer. Some of the moisturizers on the market today meant for normal to oily or acne-prone skin, with light formulas, might not withstand the cold, drying, winter air.
Next time you’re getting out of the shower and your skin is still damp, consider using a sheet mask to additionally moisturize your face, while you are getting dressed or just relaxing.
Sheet masks are best for providing additional hydration and to trap the active ingredients inside the skin cells.
Ceramides are very common active ingredients in the sheet masks. They work to block out the environmental factors (in this case the cold) that can disrupt the lipid layer and protect the natural barrier of the skin.
In other circumstances, you might look the serum as something optional and not really necessary, but in winter it just might make the difference between soft, radiant skin and a flaky, red, and dull complexion.
Make sure you apply your serum before you apply a moisturizer. This way a clean skin will absorb the active ingredients from the serum after which the moisturizer will lock the in.
Another way to prevent dry, irritated and red skin is to use natural oils or gentle natural moisturizing ingredients in your skincare regimen.
The good thing about natural ingredients is that they are safe, gentle on the skin and you can use them as much as you want - just make sure that the oil in question is low on the comedogenic scale so it doesn’t clog your pores.
Showering with really hot water is always bad for the skin. And while in summer you might not notice significant effects, in winter, the hot showers can create cracks in the outer most layer of the skin, especially if you’re not moisturizing the skin properly.
I understand that there aren’t a lot of things that are more satisfying than a hot shower after a cold day, but unfortunately, the hot water evaporates really, really quickly making it dry and completely exposed to the air. If the air is cool or cold the drying effect intensifies and you can even feel your skin cracking or peeling off. This can make eczema symptoms more aggressive or create conditions for developing eczema.
To avoid damaging effects shower with cooler water temperature, keep your bathroom door closed until you moisturize and make sure you moisturize the skin as fast as possible.
Low humidity in the air is the main culprit for drying the skin, making it itchy and red. So, investing in a humidifier that will help you to control the humidity levels in your home, can be really beneficial for your skin. I mean, you can’t control how harsh will your weather get, but you can control your home environment.
The cold makes us crave hotter days and after being exposed to really low temperatures your body will want to compensate fast and feel warm. But, please resist the temptation to crank up the heat! This can be really counterproductive for your skin. This can make the air in the room even drier and cause additional complications to already sensitive and irritated skin.
Instead, set the thermostat at a cool yet warm setting (ex. between 68°F to 72°F) and you’ll maintain healthy skin.
Sunscreen is not only for the hot, summer days when you can feel the burning sensation on your skin if you’re sitting in the sun for too long. Did you know that The Skin Cancer Association (SCA) placed sunscreen as one of the essential outdoor products in winter? Yap, according to the SCA 80% of the sun rays can penetrate the clouds and the sun's reflection off the snow is strong even on cloudy days. This is why the recommendations are to always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Plus, you can prevent aging symptoms by using sunscreen regularly.
The downside to all that warm clothing is that most of it is irritating to the skin. The heavy and rough material can irritate the skin and cause inflammation, a lot more redness around your pimples and a rash that can severely damage dry and sensitive skin if you don’t resist the urge to scratch it.
Instead, wear light layers made from soft, breathable materials and wear your heavier, warmer sweaters on top of them.
Don’t forget about your hands! Be sure to protect them from cold winter air with gloves or mittens.
This is one of the worst things you can do, if not the worst thing you can do to your skin. We know that our modern, dynamic life pressures us to do things fast and not waste time so much that we feel like we don’t have it. So, it’s quite understandable that many people go outside with their hands still wet, their hair not dried completely, and their face still moist from washing. Once the water molecules that are on our skin get in contact with the cold wind they cool down and enhance the coldness which can seriously damage your skin.
Instead, use lukewarm water to wash your face and hands, and make sure you dry them completely before going out.
Eat right, stay hydrated, and get regular eight-hours sleep.
Keep yourself away from alcohol, cigarettes, and unhealthy highly-saturated food. Smoking and drinking dehydrates the skin and makes it even more vulnerable to the cold weather. The best way to build resilience against the harsh environment is to make sure you receive all the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal skin function.
Drink plenty of water and sleep for eight hours. While we sleep the skin renews and repairs itself for the damage it received during the day. In winter, this is something you can’t go without.
This is not the most essential tip, but it’s definitely one that can be very helpful and relaxing. Professional facial massages with strong and potent products can surely give your skin that boost it needs it to fight off inflammation, bacteria, and eczema.
Regular facial massages will make your skin smoother, softer, even out your skin tone, and bring back the natural glow.
In winter the lips usually suffer the most. Most dermatologists confirm that chapped lips during winter are one of the most common skin problems out there. They are quite sensitive, so licking sore lips can make the problem a lot worse and make them susceptible to conditions such as “lick eczema”.
Instead of licking your lips, always wear a lip balm or a moisturizing ingredient such as petroleum jelly or shea butter.
Don’t use products that contain alcohol or fragrances in their formulation.
The hands are also at a high risk of becoming chopped and sore during winter months. Frequently washing the hands and using soap can strip away the natural oils of the hands.
Always wear gloves when going outside or in really cold places and start using an oil-based liquid soap, in order to prevent overdrying.
Use soft and warm socks and don’t let them get wet in the snow or rain. If you do get wet, then go and change as soon as possible. There’s nothing worse than to leave wet clothing on your skin for a long period of time. This is how you’ll get a cold and your skin will become rough, cracked, and even painful.
Now that you know how the cold weather affects the skin you can start changing your skincare routine, your habits, and your lifestyle in order to protect it from the harsh and damaging environmental conditions during winter months.
If you want a beautiful and flawless look on your skin, you need to be ready to invest some time and effort to nourish and care for it.