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While winter brings about a bevy of cozy activities—cocoa by the fire, building snowmen, or ice-skating in the park—it also ushers in a season that’s not so kind to our skin. Though we often bundle up our bodies to stay warm in the colder months, our faces are frequently left exposed to the harsh outdoor elements.
The combination of frigid air and brisk wind can take its toll, leaving our skin both dry and dull. Indoor heaters don’t do us any favors either, further exacerbating the lack of moisture.
When skin is extremely dry, it becomes more fragile, making it more prone to redness, itchiness, and flaking. It’s important to offer extra nourishment to our skin during the winter months to help maintain moisture and elasticity. But it’s not quite as simple as adding a single face cream to the routine and calling it a day.
Many skin-care products—from milky cleansers to soothing serums—can combat dry skin, and when layered together with a face cream, they can work in tandem to build up hydration and seal it in.
Winter Skin-Care Staples
Just like we change up our wardrobe for the colder season, it’s important to change up our skin-care routine as well. There are certain products that can make a huge difference in keeping skin hydrated in the wintertime.
Here are a few items you can either swap out with your current ones or add into your existing routine that will help keep those winter skin woes at bay.
- Swap out a foaming cleanser for a cream-based one. Foaming cleansers are great for washing away makeup and impurities, but they can also strip oils from the skin. Using milky or cream cleansers is a great way to boost hydration since you’re adding moisture while you wash your face.
- Switch from an oil-reducing astringent to a hydrating toner. Astringents are effective for combating greasy skin in the summer months, but they are much too drying for wintertime use. Changing to a hydrating toner balances the skin without drying it out.
- Add a facial serum to your routine. Serums are lighter in consistency than moisturizers, so your skin really drinks them up. They are made to be the first step in your routine and can penetrate deeply into the skin’s surface, delivering powerful ingredients. By applying one that contains a hydrating ingredient like hyaluronic acid, you’re adding another layer of moisture to your skin before sealing it in with moisturizer.
- Trade a lightweight moisturizer for a thicker face cream. Making the change from a lightweight moisturizer to a richer cream helps keep the skin protected from the harsh weather and dry indoor air and also preserves its elasticity. For those with oily skin who fear a thick cream may be too greasy, we’re diving deeper into products designed for specific skin types below.
While it’s true there are five basic skin types (normal, dry, oily, combination, and sensitive), and they each require different products to address different concerns, there is one crucial product that all skin types need in the winter months: moisturizer.
An ideal product will contain both an emollient that helps strengthen the skin barrier and a humectant that draws and seals in moisture. Of course, not all moisturizers are created equal, so choosing the right one will depend on your specific skin type.
- Sensitive Skin: Look for a moisturizer that doesn’t contain any fragrances or dyes, since those can irritate your skin. Simple formulas with soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal (versus active ingredients like Vitamin C) are your best bet. For added sun protection, opt for one that contains SPF.
- Dry Skin: An ultra-rich formulation that contains moisturizing ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid will help counteract severely dehydrated skin. You can also look for creams that contain occlusives like glycerin or shea butter, which form a protective layer on the skin and lock in moisture.
- Oily Skin: An oil-free or gel-based cream containing hyaluronic acid is a great option. These are lighter in formulation than a heavy cream, but still hydrate your skin without clogging your pores. Avoid products that can leave skin feeling greasy, and opt for a fast-absorbing, lightweight product.
- Normal/Combination Skin: A moisturizer that hydrates dry areas but doesn’t add greasiness to already oily spots sounds like a tall order, but there are all-in-one formulations out there. You want to look for one that’s oil-free and noncomedogenic or won’t clog pores, which will deliver moisture without exacerbating the oily areas.
Personalize Your Winter Skin Routine
If you fall more on the “skin-care newbie” than “skin-care junkie” end of the spectrum, it can feel a bit daunting to choose which products are right for your winter routine. OLAY has developed a helpful online tool called Skin Advisor that will analyze your skin and recommend a personalized regimen based on your results. Essentially, it drastically reduces the guesswork in getting started.
First, you start by uploading a selfie. The tool analyzes five skin aging zones on your face—forehead, eye area, under eye, cheeks, and mouth—and asks questions about any specific skin-care concerns you may have as well as what kind of products you currently use.
It then analyzes your skin and recommends a personalized skin-care routine based on your “skin age.” and skincare preferences
After uploading my image and completing the assessment, I was impressed with how accurate it was at addressing my problem areas (I’m looking at you, puffy eyes and dark circles) and recommending products to specifically target them.
Some of the items suggested to me, like the Brightening Eye Cream, will be clutch for year-round concerns, but the ones that I think will work specifically for a winter routine are:
- Regenerist Collagen Peptide 24 Cream Cleanser: Because I have mostly oily skin, the tool recommended this cleanser as it gently exfoliates and is lightweight. And since it’s a cream-based product, it won’t be too drying in the winter months. Bonus: it is free from fragrance, parabens, phthalates, and synthetics dyes.
- Deep Hydration Vitamin B3 + Hyaluronic Acid Serum: This was recommended to me because I stated I like products that have a “light feel” on the skin. OLAY’s tagline for this product is “Drench and quench,” and they state it’s like “a cool drink of water for your skin.” It contains hyaluronic acid, which is a moisture magnet that will keep skin hydrated in the colder weather.
- Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer: After specifying that I was looking for a moisturizer that had anti-aging properties, the tool recommended this product to me. According to OLAY, more than three million jars sell every year, so it must be doing something right! It’s a cream-based formula that was designed to “deliver moisture 10 layers deep into the skin’s surface,” making it an excellent choice for winter skincare.
I highly recommend trying the Skin Advisor tool yourself and seeing what products are right for your skin. Whatever your results, the main takeaway is that there are easy skin-care swaps or product additions you can make to amp up your skin’s hydration levels in the colder season.
All skin types need moisturizer—choosing one formulated for your specific type is essential to combating dry skin in the wintertime. Here’s to hydrated and glowy skin all winter long!