Everything you need to keep your skin from drying out in winter

·6 min read
Air Humidifier increasing the humidity in a bedroom for better sleep.
An air humidifier helps to increase the humidity in a bedroom for better sleep and keep skin supple. (Photo: Getty)

By the time the end of the year rolls around, it can feel exhausting to even think about skincare — and that’s in a normal year. In 2020, when so many of us have been spending more time taking care of others, stress-reading the news, or working 24/7, finding the time and energy to care for your skin can feel trickier than ever. But if you only pay attention to your skin once this year, we recommend choosing the start of winter.

As dermatologists, estheticians and skincare TikTok remind us, ‘tis the season to swap out your lightweight moisturizers and barely-there overnight creams in favor of heartier fare. To make it easy, we’ve curated a one-and-done winter skincare routine that addresses everything you’ll need for glowing skin this time of year.

“As the winter months approach, there are certain things that we can do to help maintain our skin,” says Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey. She offers a few suggestions for skincare swaps we can all make to weather the season with healthy, happy skin.

“The cold air can dry out your skin, so it is important to use a gentle cleanser and a good thick moisturizer. If you were using a thinner lotion during the summertime you might want to switch to a thicker cream, adding more moisture to your skin,” she says. Sperling also recommends that when lips dry out, avoid licking them and instead opt for applying a hearty lip balm — more on that below. And even though you’re not on a beach vacation or laying out in the park, she reminds us “don’t forget to use SPF. There is still sun in the winter cold months.”

Ahead, a list of winter skin saviors that will keep your skin nourished and vibrant until spring break. Adopt the full winter skincare routine, or pick and choose your favorites.

A “double cleanse” is just that — a two-step face-washing routine that ensures you remove every lick of dirt or makeup and start your skincare routine with freshly clean skin. Peter Thomas Roth makes the practice easy with this cleanser duo, made up of the Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel and Water Drench Cloud Cream Cleanser. The gentle cloud cleanser melts away makeup and infuses skin with moisturizing hyaluronic acid, while the cooling gel cleanser uses acid and fruit extracts to increase cell turnover.

It’s no surprise why this three-piece skincare set by Josie Maran is rated 5 stars by QVC shoppers. It takes the guesswork out of taking care of your daily skin regimen by arming you with a Argan Milk Clean Skin Niacinamide Cleanser, Pure Milk Serum and Milk Intensive Hydrating Body Serum. Formulated with richly moisturizing ingredients, including niacinamide, glycerin, lactic acid, aloe vera and, you guessed it, pure argan oil, these products will help you stave off winter dryness and dullness from head to toe.

The only thing better than a deeply hydrating serum is a deeply hydrating serum at a drugstore price. This winter mainstay from Olay is formulated with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, which work together to quench dehydrated or dry, seasonal skin. Fans swear by its instantly-plumping effect and tendency to make skin look lit-from-within even when under makeup.

As Sperling reminds us, UV rays are still harmful to skin even when we can’t feel the sun’s warmth. The sunscreen experts at Supergoop have created a broad-spectrum lotion that rubs into skin easily and with no white cast. It’ll keep skin hydrated and protected, whether you’re headed to the slopes or planning on another day working from the couch.

No one wants to get stuck under the mistletoe with chapped lips. This ultra-nourishing treatment is the gold standard for winter formulas, helping to heal and repair dry, cracked lips. Sperling is also a fan: “I love using Aquaphor to help moisturize lips,” she says.

No winter skincare routine is complete without a workhorse overnight mask. Along with hydrating ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, this fan-favorite from Peach & Lily is formulated with brightening black ginseng and acai berry, the latter of which gives the mask its fun light blue shade. The mask’s texture lends itself to layering; depending on your skin’s needs, opt for a thin covering or scoop out a hearty helping. Either way, you’ll wake up looking revived.

It’s not just your face that deserves a gentler treatment this season. In lieu of harsh scrubs or drying soaps, switch to a cream body cleanser that hydrates and softens skin. Ouai started off as a haircare brand, but has expanded its range — and its lovely scents — to the rest of the body. Longtime fans will recognize Dean Street, its floral blend of apricot, rose, magnolia, violet and musk.

Once you step out of the shower, lock in hydration with a big scoop of Philosophy’s shimmering body moisturizers. This duo comes with two 16-ounce jars, so you won’t have to worry about running out until we’re way into 2021. Choose two options from amazing grace (floral and musk), pure grace (crisp and clean soap-and-water) or baby grace (violet, poppy and musk). Whichever you choose, you’ll have enough hydration to maintain skin supple all season long — or, if you’re feeling the holiday spirit, to share with a friend.

“Hand washing in cold weather can exacerbate dry hands,” says Sperling. We hope to leave constant hand washing and sanitizing behind soon, but until then, you and every single person on your list are likely in need of an effective hand cream. The simple, fragrance-free lotion is as solid as it gets, and Necessaire’s chic and simple packaging means it’s a fit for everyone from the trendiest beauty TikTok maven to the skincare newbie.

The ultimate in seasonal skin prep, a humidifier is an investment in nourished, hydrated skin for winters to come. “Humidifiers can be beneficial during the winter. They can prevent skin from drying out and help maintain the moisture of your skin,” says Sperling. This Homedics version has five mist settings to tailor to your preference, an option for warm or cool mist and an essential oil tray to turn your home into an aromatherapy retreat.

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