Winter can be a bummer for a lot of reasons (frigid temperatures, less daylight, no beach time), but for many of us the most annoying part of the season is the havoc it wreaks on our skin. From dry areas to chapped lips to random patches of itchy redness, winter can bring out the worst in even the most glowing complexions. And, it’s not enough to swap in a heavier moisturizer and call it a day. If your skin is experiencing the unfortunate side effects of cold weather, we have the steps your winter skincare routine might be missing.
Humectants are ingredients that draw water from the air and into the surface of the skin, so they’re great at treating the root cause of dry, dehydrated skin. Some all-star humectants include glycerin, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, amino acids, and urea. An easy way to add humectants into your routine is to layer a hydrating toner, gel, or serum under your regular moisturizer. You should notice smoother, more plump-looking skin as your skin’s moisture levels begin to increase.
Here’s the thing: No matter how good you are about moisturizing, your skin will still feel dry if you don’t lock all of that moisture in. The key to resolving the persistent dryness and flakiness that comes with winter is to finish your routine with occlusive ingredients that keep water from evaporating from your skin. Waxes, silicones, butters, and petrolatum are all examples of occlusives to look out for on labels.
Redness and itchy spots popping up? Inclement weather can often lead to patches of inflammation and irritation—even flare-ups of eczema or dermatitis. If you’re dealing with occasional bouts of red, itchy skin (around the folds of your nose, for example), keep a soothing, multipurpose balm or spot treatment on hand to dab on as needed. If you’re prone to eczema, look for one that’s free of essential oils or fragrances, which may lead to more irritation.
With winter, comes flakes—and not necessarily the snow variety. As the weather becomes colder and dryer, you may notice your scalp getting itchier and flakier. Treat the skin under your hair to a little TLC with a scalp treatment to help clear away dandruff and product buildup and soothe irritation. A good scalp treatment should include a combination of moisturizing, exfoliating, and antifungal ingredients to treat dandruff and scalp itchiness at the root.
Sometimes, all it takes to bring your skin back from the brink is adding in a facial mask once or twice per week. Even oily and acne-prone skin can benefit from the extra boost of moisture a good mask can deliver. Most masks are formulated to have an immediate effect on the skin, so you can enjoy the short-term satisfaction of smoother, bouncier skin right away while maintaining your skin’s health with regular use over time.
Just because the days are shorter (and cloudier) doesn’t mean you can skip out on sun protection. Even running out for coffee or commuting to work exposes you to damaging UV rays, so it’s important to keep loading up on broad-spectrum SPF like it’s summer. Try opting for a sunscreen-moisturizer hybrid that hydrates as it protects, giving you yet another layer of much-needed moisture.