Just as your footwear or layering needs change from one season to the next, so too does your grooming regimen. What works best in spring and summer, isn’t always what works best in fall and winter. Colder, dryer temperatures compromise your skin—as do the longer, warming showers. And while summer is no cakewalk with the constant sun and humidity, its challenges are quite different from winter.
If you’re skeptical of this, then consider how quickly your hands or lips chap in winter. Pay close attention, and you’ll notice the skin on your face feels rougher and drier, looks duller, and might even break out more frequently.
Your hair and facial hair go through the cycle, too. Have you ever experienced beard itching or flaking in winter? Another good example. (Though, for this article, we’ll focus on your face and its skin.)
So, as we transition with the fall towards winter, here are a few things to consider in regards to your skincare regimen. Making the following alterations should ensure your skin stays resilient, soft, strong, and nourished all winter long, until sunny days are here again.
Take short, mild showers
We addressed this above, but those long, hot showers in winter are actually quite damning on your skin. Sure, they seem inviting, but they strip the oil out of your face far past the point of comfort (and from the rest of your body, and your hair, too).
Couple that with the bone-dry, cold air outside, and your skin is going to be totally void of any sustenance. So, keep showers short, and turn the temperature down to a milder range.
Keep cleansers gentle
This might already be a perennial routine for you, but it’s imperative to use a gentle cleanser in winter. You want something that adds vitamins back into your skin while it extracts grime and excess oil, as opposed to a cleanser that renders skin totally dry—especially since you’ll be cleansing at least twice a day.
Try this: Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Cream Cleanser, $26
Swap moisturizer for balm (but don’t swap out SPF)
Don’t skirt on the SPF during colder months—since the sun’s UV rays don’t fly south for the winter. They’re still very much present, and they can fry your skin (and significantly “age” skin) even when the sun is obscured by clouds—and especially at higher elevations. However, instead of wearing an SPF moisturizer, you should swap in a dense balm, which works overtime to trap moisture inside the skin and shield it from cold, dry air and piercing winds. It also assists in any active recovery that your skin may need, as balms tend to be more heavily concentrated with nutrients. If your facial balm doesn’t have SPF 30+ in it, then apply a separate facial sunscreen over the balm to guarantee protection. And yes, still wear sunscreen indoors.
Try this: PCA Skin Silkcoat Balm, $50
Amp up the exfoliation
Since drier skin leads to rougher, duller complexion—and often more clogged pores—it is imperative to exfoliate in winter. Hopefully you do it twice a week to begin with, but if not, colder seasons are the time to build the habit. Exfoliation will give you smoother, softer, and brighter skin while keeping dead cells from clogging pores. Whether you choose a physical scrub or chemical exfoliant is up to you; just be sure to follow the instructions carefully, ideally opting for an exfoliant that gently sloughs or dissolves dead skin cells. (As opposed to a DIY peel, which aggressively sheds layers of cells, often past the point of need.)
Try this: Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub, $18
Do a weekly moisture mask
Regardless of your success in cold weather, it’s smart to give skin a weekly moisture boost. Do this by wearing a leave-on moisture mask overnight, or a rinse-away one for 10-20 minutes, or a hydrating sheet mask for 10-15 minutes (which you typically need not rinse away). Whereas cleansing masks suck out grease and gunk from your pores, these moisture masks plump skin with nutrients. They’re usually powered by hydrating, fortifying serums, so they seep deep into your skin to work correctively and give skin a plumping, firming, radiating finish.
Try this: Clark’s Botanicals Deep Moisture Mask, $69
Wear dense overnight creams, and sleep with a humidifier
Believe it or not, the bedroom is one of the places your skin is most susceptible to winter’s effects. That’s because you just remain there, passed out in the often bone-dry room, letting the environment extract moisture from your skin until your mug is as dry as everything else. So, it’s important to apply a dense night cream at the end of your bedtime skincare regimen, to trap in moisture for at least 8 hours. Also, the more nutrients the night cream has, the better it can sync with your sleep cycle to rejuvenate and replenish your skin—regardless of the season.
Secondly, by sleeping with a humidifier in the bedroom, you can ensure that your skin loses less moisture to its environment. It’s like sleeping in a jungle (especially if you have the heat cranked up), and in a strange twist of events, your skin might never look better.
Try this: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, $58
While you transition your skincare routine, make sure that you are properly layering all your skincare products with our guide.
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