You dont want to strip your skin of crucial oils and moisture any time of year, but in the winter this is especially important. Cleansers or body washes without harsh surfactants are gentler than basic bar soaps, and therefore don't strip away the natural skin barrier, says Dr. Belkin. So be sure to sub in mild, extra-gentle face and body washes in the winter months to restore a natural moisture balance. He also suggests avoiding taking showers or washing your face with scalding hot water, which can be tempting when it's freezing out. Ideally, you rinse with lukewarm water, pat dry, and then apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp, he says.
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate is our mantra from December to March. Its key because it buffs away dead skin cells, allowing the precious products that come next (were talking serums, moisturizers, and lip balms) to be more effective. A few times a week (twice if your skin tends to be sensitive, every day if yours can tolerate it), cleanse your face with a physical exfoliator that has a gritty texture to physically slough away anything lingering on skin's surface. If your skin is ultradry, Dr. Belkin warns that physical exfoliation can be irritating. Instead, opt for a chemical exfoliator that uses chemicals like AHAs and BHAs to penetrate the skin. Alpha-hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid and lactic acid) can be moisturizing even while exfoliating, and beta-hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid) are also gentle exfoliants and safe for sensitive skin, says Dr. Belkin. And lest we forget the most commonly chapped area of our bodies in the winter, you should also keep a gentle lip scrub on hand to buff away any flakes on your mouth that may prevent balm or color from adhering.
Our winter skin savers:
- For your face: Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator (physical exfoliator) + Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment (chemical exfoliator)
- For your lips: Sara Happ The Lip Scrub
- For your body: Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Body Polish
In general, those of us who don't tend to think about moisturizing most of the year need to be more on top of it in winter, says Dr. Belkin. He recommends slathering on products with occlusive moisturizers (ingredients that prevent water loss like petrolatum, silicone, vegetable oil, beeswax, and ceramides) and humectants (ingredients that attract moisture like glycerin, lactic acid, and hyaluronic acid) daily. The same goes for moisturizing the body, he says. Frequent spots with flaky, dry skin are the back and the lower legs. Ideally, choose a moisturizer with lactic acid to both moisturize and exfoliate dead skin at the same time. We argue that this might be the most important step in your revamped routine. Moisturizers not only make your skin look better, they actually make your skin work better: when skin cells are hydrated, they repair themselves and turnover more rapidly. So slather upwell see you on the other side (of winter, that is).