How to take care of your skin during winter months to protect and prevent it from dryness and other damages
Winter skin care is quite different from summer skin care routine. During winter times skin get much dryer and becomes very fragile.
Why skin during winter times is much drier and fragile?
During the winter atmospheric humidity levels are much lower than during summer times; add to these drying effects of indoor heating systems and you are doomed to have much drier skin. Extreme temperatures combined with dry skin make our skin more fragile and prone to impurities.
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12 Tips for the Best Winter Skin Care
1. Start using soap free non-foaming cleansers.
During the winter time you want to switch to cleansers containing neutral pH so they don’t disturb the acidic pH of your skin and cause breakouts. Non lathering soap is actually a very good idea not just during the winter but all year around.
I strongly recommend using double-cleansing method where you first apply cleansing oil to remove dirt, sweat, environmental pollution and other harmful accumulations and then follow up with water-based non-foaming cleansers. By using oil-based cleansers you are protecting your skin from further dehydration and moisture loss.
Here are some examples of non-foaming cleansers:
Philosophy Purity Made Simple – is a creamy liquid that removes surface dirt and oil to get skin clean without foam.
Dermalogica Ultra calming cleanser gel – has creamy texture and very moisturizing.
Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel – suitable for any skin type especially oily one; it removes all pollutions and dirt without drying. Contains papaya and grapefruit extract and has mild exfoliating properties.
Spectro Gel Cleanser For Dry Skin – an affordable drugstore cleanser. It has neutral pH and a minimal list of ingredients.
Glo Skin Beauty Phyto-Active Cream Cleanser –This cleanser contains papaya enzymes for gentle exfoliation and rinses away impurities. It leaves skin looking and feeling smooth, soft and refreshed without completely drying it.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O is a micellar cleanser. Micellar means “waterless”. This cleanser is fantastic for removing makeup, facial creams, foundations or tinted moisturizers. It leaves skin very clean without drying it out. I use this cleanser as a makeup remover, follow with cleansing oil and then finish my cleaning routine with water-based cleansers.
2. Use Skincare Products with SPF even during winter months
A lot of people believe that it’s not necessary to use protection against the sun during winter months. Although it is true that sun during winter months is not as intense as summer sun, UV protection should always be incorporated into your daily routine skin care. You can easily get sunburn because of the sun reflecting off the snow, not to mention the regular exposure to sun while being outdoors.
3. Use Humidifiers all winter long
Humidifiers are a must during winter times. Dry hot air from furnaces can dry our skin out dramatically. Also, dry hot air also affects our respiratory system and is able to dry our mucous membrane in nose and mouth. Many people complain of difficulty breathing during heating seasons and many times dried mucosal membrane is the cause.
4. Use gentle chemical exfoliants and avoid using physical scrubs
Do not use physical exfoliant otherwise known as scrubs during the winter times. Physical exfoliants often use ground-up shells or microbeads which are too harsh for already vulnerable skin.
Instead use chemical exfoliators. Please do not be scared away by the name. Chemical exfoliators contain alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), beta hydroxy acid (BHA) or gentle enzymes which help to dissolve the top layer of dead skin and let it be washed away.
Chemical exfoliators help to remove that skin without causing any physical damage. Also BHAs known for clearing and minimizing skin pores, reducing blackheads and controlling sebum production.
Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant – this gentle exfoliant uses lactic and hydroxy acid in very mild concentration to remove dead skin. It softens top layer of the skin and Infuse it with moisture.
CORSX – AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner – treats flaky skin caused by lack of moisture as well as prevents development of whiteheads and blackheads. It also removes dead cells.
5. Add essence/serum/ampoule to your skin care (if you have not done so yet)
What are serums?
Serums are essential part of skin care. They are usually used right after cleansing and toner application. Serums are made up of very small molecules which easily penetrate into deeper levels of your skin delivering enriched ingredients.
Serums are often packed with moisturizing, whitening, nourishing and anti-aging ingredients.
Essence and ampoule are another names for serum and mostly used in Korean skin care.
Essentially serums, ampoules and essences are the same thing.
Incorporate application of this skin care product into your morning and evening skin care routine for extra moisture and nutrients delivery.
Remember that although serums are excellent and necessary for skin care, they always have to be followed by heavier creams and/or moisturizers. Serums are very light and penetrate deeply into your skin; applying heavier creams after serums will take care of skin outer layer, lock moisture in and create a protective barrier on the surface of the skin.
Dr Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Brighten and Firm Vitamin C Serum – packed with Vitamin C which is a very strong anti-aging and brightening ingredient.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum – contains hyaluronic acid which boosts hydration. This is a very lightweight product which does not leave greasy feeling on your skin.
Botanics Hydration Burst with Clary Sage Light Serum – suitable for sensitive skin. It reduces inflammation, restores the skin’s barrier while delivering moisturizing ingredients.
Mario Badescu Herbal Hydrating Serum – infused with ceramides, ginseng and gingko extracts which hydrate and invigorate your skin.
6. Extra moisturize your skin during winter months
Usual a lightweight summer moisturizers are not suitable for winter times. You want to switch to heavier creams that contain less water and more emollients and occlusives.
Look for moisturizers that contain fatty acids and ceramides. Both ingredients help to lock in moisture maintain skin protective barrier
As already mentioned, moisturizing your skin is extremely important during winter months, however NEVER use moisturizer right before leaving your house out to the cold weather. Apply moisturizers at least 1 hour before leaving the house.
The reason is that moisturizers contain water and if you apply water containing product onto your skin and immediately go outside, wet tiny water particles will freeze and become tiny icicles. Those icicles will dry your skin and can even cause microscopic damages to it.
Osmosis Immerse Moisture Boost – it is an excellent moisturizer for dry damaged skin. It is very fine and able to penetrate to very deep layers of skin and reinforces skins natural lipid barriers. It contains an emu oil, calendula oil, red raspberry seed oil, vitamin E, lemon essential oil, lavender oil and bergamot oil. These botanicals produce soothing and calming effect, reduce inflammation and irritation while boosting the skin’s natural healing processes for enhanced recovery.
Aquaphor Healing Ointment – its multi-purpose ointment restores, protects and soothes dry skin, cracked hands and feet, and heals chapped lips.
7. Use Cold Creams
What is a Cold Cream?
Cold creams were very popular a while ago; many of our grandmothers, mothers and older aunts used those creams all the time.
“The name Cold Cream comes from the cold feeling the cream leaves on the skin on application”
Generally cold creams consist of four main ingredients: water, oil, emulsifier and a thickening agent.
Cold creams are excellent during the winter times due to their heavy composition, oil and emulsifier base.
They are great to apply before leaving the house into the cold weather.
Pond’s Extra Rich Dry Skin Cream – rich and creamy formula cream that is designed for protection and extra hydration. It significantly reduces dryness of the skin and suitable for sensitive skin type.
Weleda Everon cold cream – designed for dry and extra dry skin. This cream is an excellent protection during extremely cold weather.
Avene Thermale Cold Cream – this cream combines Avene thermal spring water, pure white beeswax and pharmaceutical grade paraffin oil. This cream has excellent moisturizing, nourishing properties while adding exceptional protection from harsh winter temperatures and dryness. Avene Cold Cream is suitable for the whole family.
Try beyond belief vitamin C moisturizing cream.
8. Add facial oils to your skin care routine
What are facial oils?
There are different types of oils:
Essential Oils – oils produced from fragrant plants or their parts
Carrier oils – oils produced from non-fragrant plants
Synthetic oils – mineral oil
For the purpose of this article I will be discussing carrier oils. Carrier oils are applied directly to the skin.
Carrier facial oils are an excellent source of moisturizing. Oils molecules are quite large and only affect outermost layer of the skin, which is excellent for creating a strong protective barrier during winter times.
I add 1 or 2 drops of an oil to my creams. Sometimes I just use oils and skip cream part all together.
Cranberry seed oil is my latest favourite oil. This cold pressed oil is produced from the seeds of the super fruit. It is loaded with fatty acids including omega 3 and 6, contains Vitamin E, absorbs well into skin and gives it great hydration. I am not too crazy about the smell though, however, this oil is so good for my skin I can live with the smell.
Baobab seed oil – is another great skin oil. It is an excellent source of fatty acids including Omega 3 and 6, it prevents skin from free radicals damage; it is anti-inflammatory and has soothing properties. This oil is excellent for sensitive and mature skin.
Jojoba oil – although it is called an oil, it is actually a liquid plant wax. It creates perfect protective barrier for the skin. Jojoba oil is used to treat sores, acne, psoriasis, chapped skin. It is rich in fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins and suitable for any skin type.
9. Use Retinol Containing Products
Winter is the perfect time of the year to start using retinols on a regular basis.
What is a retinol?
Retinol, simply put, is a Vitamin A derivative. It has a long list of benefits: it is a very potent anti-aging product, it can unclog pores, boost collagen, fade age spots, treat and prevent acne, speed up cells turnover, and reduce fine lines. If you wish to know more about retinol, please, read my post by following this link.
Retinol will make your skin photosensitive, that is why it is not recommended to use retinol during summer times when sun is very strong. That is why winter is and excellent time for retinols. However, you have to use SPF even during winter times and especially when you are using retinols and acids (AHA and BHA).
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion – contains 2% of retinol. It is very potent product which showed significant reduction of wrinkles after regular use. When I started using this product I had flaky skin especially on my nose. I would advise to start with products that contain smaller retinol concentration.
SkinMedica Retinol Complex .25 – contains 0.25% of retinol. It is a very good product to introduce retinols into your skin care without any irritations and flaky skin.
RoC Retinol Collection Cream – cream contains retinol to fight lines and deep wrinkles while leaving the skin feeling smooth and healthy
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule – retinol-infused ampoule (aka serum) that uses a yeast ferment along with peptides and soothing chamomile . It can be used all year around and a very good anti-aging and moisturizing product.
10. Use Overnight Sleeping Masks
What is a sleeping mask?
Sleeping masks, also called sleeping packs, are unique skin care products.
As the name suggests, they are applied to skin before the bedtime and kept on overnight. Sleeping masks are different from night creams as they are packed with active ingredients. Night creams are designed to be used on a daily basis, sleeping masks are rather used as a boost to your skin. Please, read my extensive post on sleeping masks vs night creams by following this link.
So, sleeping masks will deliver extra moisture, anti-oxidants and nutrients to your skin. You can use sleeping masks up to three times a week during winter times (during summer times use sleeping packs once or twice a week).
11. Hydrate yourself
Drink plenty water to promote internal body hydration. Also take some supplements including Omega-3 which improves skin’s natural barrier function by improving hydration and reducing inflammation.
12. Take good care of your lips during winter times
Do not lick your lips while outdoors, that will cause dryness and chapped lips.
Apply ointment based lip balm before leaving your house and always have extra lip balm in your pocket. Also apply lip balm before going to bed.
An excellent lip care product is organic raw honey. It smoothes lips and even heals cracked lips.
a) use raw honey as a mask: just apply it to lips and leave on for 15-20 minutes, than gently wash it off.
b) use it as a natural overnight treatment – apply to lips and leave overnight.
Hemp Heavy Duty Lip Balm – currently this is my favourite lip balm. It is very nourishing and softening. It is infused with hemp seed oil which is rich in essential fatty acids. It creates excellent protective barrier on the lips while moisturizing it at the same time.
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask – is a very popular lip care product among many, many users. It helps dissolve dead skin cells making lips look younger. It also moisturizers lips while you sleep making them firmer and hydrated.
You can also apply skin oils and butter on your lips. Shea butter is excellent for moisturizing and creating protective barrier on your lips.
Winter time presents many challenges to our skin. Extreme cold temperatures combined with dry hot air that is used to heat up buildings and houses can cause our skin to become very dry and fragile. However, with the right care it is possible to keep our skin healthy and glowing. Winter can also give extra perks to our skin such as an opportunity to use Retinol and chemical acids and enjoy benefits that they bring to our skin. After all, winter can be fun and if we live in places where winter lasts almost half a year, we might just enjoy the best of it.