By Madeleine Woon
For me, the beginning of winter is usually marked by:
—Mild regret at earlier declarations that I was “a bit over the warm weather and really excited to wear fabulous winter outfits and sip wine in cosy settings,” since it’s now officially below freezing and my wardrobe doesn’t come close to the ambitious sartorial moodboards that I’d mentally conjured.
—An upswing in at-home movie nights and a downswing in any social activities requiring that I leave the house.
—Dry patches taking up residence on previously dewy skin.
I’m not really complaining with the first two, since there’s still time to flex my winter wardrobe muscle and anyways, I find socializing at home to be immensely pleasurable. The last one, though. Yikes. Hell hath no fury like epidermis deprived of humid air. I am living, breathing, flaking, dehydrated proof of this fact. Between the dry air and frosty temperatures, ‘tis the season for skin to become irritated and for fine lines and wrinkles to flourish.
Because of this, we must treat our skin to extra TLC in the winter. What does that look like? I’ll pass the mic over to skin experts who have all the right tips to keep you feeling juicy during the cold, dry months…
Prep your home
As Dr. Angela Lamb, director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice in New York City says, our skin “is the barrier that keeps water inside of your body, so when it is dry and cold, water evaporates off of the surface faster and easier.” To prevent dryness, Lamb recommends using an air humidifier—they are a great way to add moisture back into the air in your home (especially if the heater is getting a good workout).
Change up your skincare routine
According to celebrity esthetician Gina Mari, “most people don’t realize that, during the winter, not only does the weather change but so does your skin.” our regular skincare routine won’t cut the mustard.
New York City dermatologist Shari Marchbein, M.D., agrees. “Look for creams, rather than lotions, that are made with ceramides and hyaluronic acid,” Marchbein says. “Ceramides aid in the prevention of the skin’s barrier, which is ‘easily broken down during the winter.” For those with severely chapped faces, she recommends packing on a generous amount of product both morning and night.
As for cleansers, it’s wise to consider switching out your exfoliating or foaming cleanser for something more hydrating, like a balm. Be wary of any drying ingredients like fragrances or additives, in favor of things like chamomile and oatmeal.
Exfoliate (but not too much)
Marchbein recommends picking a gentle scrub, “something with a mild glycolic or lactic acid to get off the dead skin.” She suggests swapping a gentle formula for your regular cleanser two to three times a week. For those with severely dry skin, she recommends skipping the exfoliator and using a wet washcloth for a gentler option. Now that the skin is gently exfoliated, “serums and moisturizers can penetrate and really get to work.”
But, like all good things, don’t overdo it. “Most people think it’s best to exfoliate more often during the winter to rid themselves of winter’s dry flakes,” David Lortscher, dermatologist and founder and CEO of Curology, says. “While regular exfoliation can be beneficial to the skin, exfoliation is easy to overdo, and that can cause redness, as well as a feeling of tightness, sensitivity and soreness.”
Don’t scald your skin
It’s very tempting to overdo the hot water tap during the chilly months, but if glowing skin is what you desire, resist this urge.
“I know it sounds like common sense, but with the weather we’ve been having, the thing we want to do is come home after a long walk and take a hot shower or bath,” Dr. Melda Isaac, founder and director of MI Skin Dermatology and Laser Center in Washington, D.C. says, noting that water that’s too hot dehydrates our skin. “If you do indulge in a hot shower or bath, keep your bathroom door closed if possible, and after you dry, moisturize,” Isaac added.
“Drink more water,” says every dermatologist, ever.