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Skin Care Tips for Dry Skin During Colder Months

With winter quickly approaching, the skincare routine necessities of #hotgirlsummer seem to fall to the wayside. Forget glowing body oil and sun-kissed skin; winter is all about indulging in that extra holiday cookie and time indoors under lots of cozy blankets (and maybe a cup of cocoa) as the snow sparkles outside your window. Bonus points if you’ve got a crackling fire, too!

Winter skincare is still a good idea, though, even if it doesn’t look like your summertime skincare routine might have. Instead, you’ll likely find your winter skin needs protection from the dry air and cold days. The best way to do that is with products that restore your natural skin barrier and prevent the cracks, dryness, and itchy skin that all too often come with cold weather. No need to panic, though—we’ve got you covered with all the tips and skincare essentials you might need to combat dry winter skin and all that comes with it.

Know the signs of dry skin.

When it comes to common winter skin woes, dryness is a top concern—even oily skin can suffer from winter‘s dry air. Some sorts of dry skin are obvious, whether it’s brought on by colder weather, dry air, or irritation. However, you may not always realize that you’re dealing with dry skin in cooler months, especially if you aren’t looking out for it.

Instead, you should make sure you’re aware of any symptoms of dryness well before they hit—and the best time to learn them is right now! Your skin may feel dry to the touch and have more noticeable fine lines. You may have a distinct itch or find your skin becomes rough and flaky, with signs like redness or inflammation that make your symptoms all the more frustrating. In more severe cases, your dehydrated skin may burn or sting, peel, become infected, or otherwise worsen. You may also notice that you have dry, cracked lips, too, if you’re dealing with widespread dehydration beyond the limits of your skincare regimen.

If you deal with a skin condition like eczema, you may be painfully aware of symptoms like these no matter the season. In addition to making adjustments to your skincare routine in the colder months, be sure to follow any advice offered by health care professionals and apply any ointments, face oils, or other products your dermatologist or esthetician recommends to promote healthy skin. When in doubt, consult your dermatologist to rule out other skin conditions like acne or rosacea.

Moisturize, especially after cleansing.

Of course, maintaining skin hydration is crucial year-round, not just amidst harsh winter weather and the dry, cracked skin that results from it. But the low humidity and frigid temperatures of the winter months make it all the more crucial to include moisturizer in your daily routine.

This is, in part, because winter brings along cold and flu season, too. Especially in the aftermath of COVID-19, we’re all well aware of the importance of washing our hands to prevent germs like those that cause the flu. This is why it’s often most obvious that your hands are dealing with dryness and irritation. However, they aren’t the only bit of your skin that deals with cleanser on a regular basis—you undoubtedly use face washes and body wash to get clean, too. Of course, you shouldn’t skip out on washing your hands or other body parts to save your skin's surface from winter's itch. On the contrary, this means you should opt for a lotion, cream, or oil that promotes rich moisture, restores the skin barrier, and encourages your skin’s natural elasticity alongside benefits like creating smoother skin and fighting fine lines or wrinkles. Alternatively, you might prefer a cleansing oil to both clean and hydrate the skin.

You may also decide to swap out your typical products as an extra effective way to keep your skin healthy and hydrated despite frequent cleansing and dry winter air. Switch out your typical cleanser, whether it’s gel or cream, for a more gentle cleanser that’s made for sensitive skin or to maintain the skin's protective barrier this time of year. Look for ingredients like natural oils (including essential oils as well as avocado oil, coconut oil, argan oil, or olive oil), mineral oil, aloe, avocado or avocado oil, evening primrose oil, shea butter, or oatmeal in everything from eye creams and thick moisturizers to night cream and sleep masks. Do you know the antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins in your favorite products? It’s worth looking into. You may also opt for fragrance-free options to avoid irritants or allergens that might make your skin even drier, and opt for humectants instead, which help your skin retain an adequate amount of water.

Reach for your Karmic Cleanse gentle exfoliating cleanser for all the benefits of fruit enzymes, CBD, and other powerful ingredients, then follow it up with a bit of High Glow radiance facial oil and Second Nature calming facial moisturizer. Are you facing other skin issues? Try some DIY or natural skincare products, like petrolatum (vaseline) as a lip product or a custom-blended face oil made from your go-to natural ingredients.

Treat yourself to indulgent skin treatments.

To protect your skin as the seasons change to the dry winter months, you might want to indulge in some extra luxurious treatments in addition to your typical skincare routine. Work to restore the protective layer, or epidermis, and ceramides, lipids, or fatty acids, while repairing the skin's protective barrier, even if it means reaching for a different product once the weather changes. 

For instance, one of the best adjustments you can make this time of year is to upgrade to a thicker, richer moisturizer that can help make the most of however much moisture is held on the surface of the skin. In fact, turning to thick products is a winter skincare tip that the pros swear by. Ceramides, for instance, promote a healthier, more hydrated complexion despite the inevitably of winter itch and dryness. A lot of people may fall into the trap of using the same skincare products—and, by extension, the same amount of moisture—year-round. However, the best way to prevent and care for dry winter skin is to change your skincare products and regimen with the seasons. No matter how well a certain product works in the warmer months of the year, it might not be the best choice come cold weather.

You might also turn to a moisturizing face mask, and additions like a lip mask or lip balm, body oil, eye cream, and other products meant to target this particular skin condition. Just take extra care to ensure you don’t turn to hand cream, body lotion, or other non-facial formulas when you scrub and moisturize your face—though those can certainly benefit your body in other areas, non-facial products can clog pores and otherwise irritate your skin.

Keep up your SPF habit.

Any dermatologist will tell you that sun care should be a crucial part of your skincare regimen year-round. In fact, if sunscreen is the only thing making up your skincare routine, you’ll still see results, to some degree! Your go-to sun care essentials can block UV radiation, including UVA and UVB rays, which can harm your skin, especially the delicate skin of your face. Even on a dreary day, it’s crucial to invest in sun protection, preventing free radicals and sun damage in all its sneaky forms. 

Making SPF a permanent part of your daily skincare sets comes with a host of benefits. Not only can it help protect you from skin cancer, but sunscreen will prevent sunburn (it might seem less threatening, but you can still face sun damage in the winter months!) and premature signs of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles. So, even if you haven’t been practicing proper sun care for a lengthy amount of time, it’s better late than never. Of course, SPF shouldn’t be the only way you care for your skin, but it’s one of the most important steps in your routine year-round.

Simplify your skincare routine.

Of course, you don’t want to set aside your favorite skincare products through the winter months, and you might even add a few thick products to your lineup to make the most of whatever moisture they can provide. At the same time, though, your go-to skincare ingredients can all too easily irritate your dry skin, especially if winter air is already taking its toll.

For instance, your favorite exfoliator is a crucial step in your skincare process. It can help your skin get the nourishing benefits it craves from other products, like your favorite moisturizer or balm, by getting rid of flakes or dead skin cells. But, when cold temperatures creep in, you might want to exfoliate less than you otherwise would—those dead cells are a small price to pay when you’re avoiding too much harsh exfoliating. Plus, your focus on moisturizing and hydrating your skin will help fight against dead skin in the first place!

Certain ingredients, too, can irritate your skin more harshly than it can handle in the cold air of winter. A few examples include certain soaps and fragrances, as well as astringents, glycerin, menthol, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), charcoal, and some spot treatments meant to ease pimples. So, be sure to check your serums and toners before sticking to your tried and true summer skincare—there may be a better fit waiting for you come winter.

Update your environment.

An illuminated shower stream on a black background

You’ve got your hands on an extra-thick moisturizer, and you’ve cut out any drying ingredients from your skincare regimen. But what about your day-to-day life beyond your skincare routine? The space around you can contribute to loss of moisture and prolonged dry skin, too, as can your day-to-day habits.

For instance, how much thought do you put into your showers, particularly in the context of skincare? When cold air blows in, few things sound as appealing as a hot bath or a shower in rejuvenating hot water. But that hot shower or those long baths in hot water can devastate nearly any skin type. Instead, opt for warm water or a lukewarm bath, and be sure to avoid going out in the cold air with damp skin. It may not be quite as satisfying as your piping hot shower, but a more lukewarm shower will get you clean without sacrificing your skin’s moisture in the process.

Similarly, pay attention to the humidity around you. Whether it’s dry weather or dry heat causing your issues, you’ll quickly realize that a less drying heater (or thermostat that’s turned down a few degrees) or thoughtfully placed humidifier can do as much for your skin as any amount of hyaluronic acid or vitamin C serums!

Look inside and out.

Taking better care of your skin with all those must-have skincare essentials is key to hydrating and moisturizing your skin despite the dry winter air. It’s equally important, though, to make sure you’re hydrating your skin from the inside as well.

Naturally, drinking plenty of water is a critical part of winter hydration. We get it—it’s hard not to favor indulgent treats like cocoa this time of year. It’s oh-so comforting, plus chocolate has caffeine and antioxidants, both of which are powerful ingredients for your skin! The last thing you might want come winter is to chug at a bottle of water, but it’s a crucial step to not just skin health but overall wellness and personal care.

Get some Zzzs.

If you don’t already have a nightly skincare routine, the winter months are the perfect time to start! This is a top tip for wellness in general but proves to be especially important this season. It comes with plenty of benefits, both cosmetic and health-focused, and in terms of relaxation.

Naturally, your most important step is cleanser. After all, your face faces an awful lot throughout the day! A good wash helps your skin fight against whatever pollutants and irritants it encountered since you finished up your skincare routine in the morning. It’s just as important, though, to emphasize your night cream or moisturizer, too. While your typical moisturizer is likely a lightweight formula and may include SPF or other ingredients meant to take your skincare regimen up a notch during the day, a night cream is a thick moisturizer. In addition to hydrating and moisturizing your skin, your night cream may promote collagen production and skin cell turnover as well as restore the skin's moisture barrier for extra moisturization. In short, don’t skimp on your bedtime skin rituals!

Show off your snow bunny skin!

A woman in winter wear (coat, mittens, earmuffs, etc.) blowing at a handful of snow

You wouldn’t welcome winter without your essential accessories and cold weather clothing waiting in your wardrobe—warm mittens, cozy scarves, and plenty of wool sweaters. Think of your thick moisturizer, broad-spectrum sunscreen, and hydrating serums and face oils as your skin’s scarf or cotton gloves.

Whether you’re hitting the ski slopes or bundling up indoors this winter, you can’t neglect your skincare if you want to prevent or treat dryness. These winter skincare tips will have your skin hydrated and glowing with wellness, leaving you plenty of space for relaxation and renewal.

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