The colder months mark the season of warm sweaters, cozy meals, and catching up with loved ones by the fireside. But amidst the falling temps, itchy, uncomfortable skin might also show up to the festivities — uninvited.
These sudden changes in indoor and outdoor climates make our skin more vulnerable. Fortunately, we can proactively protect our skin by updating our winter skincare routine.
Let’s get started — ‘cause baby it’s cold outside!
Table of Contents
- 1 How does winter weather affect my skin?
- 2 Winter skincare routine tips for a serene complexion
- 3 Our recommended winter skincare routine step by step
How does winter weather affect my skin?
It’s natural to feel the effects of changing seasons on your skin throughout the year. But, winter’s chill has a particularly notorious reputation.
That’s because dry, cold climates hinder our skin’s natural barrier function. With less ability to protect itself, skin cells kick up their production of pro-inflammatory proteins and cortisol. The result: our stressed-out skin can become even more reactive towards cold winter weather. And skin sensitivity and dryness may follow.
What else happens when your skin barrier isn’t functioning at its best? It can also affect your skin’s lipid production: the natural fats that help your skin retain moisture. So, your skin can end up feeling dry and tight.
Fortunately, there are a few ways we can fight back.
Winter skincare routine tips for a serene complexion
1. Prioritize hydration
Tight, dry skin is the opposite of cozy. The chilly months signal the time to switch out lighter moisturizers for heavy-hitting hydration.
Prioritize products that help replenish lost moisture in the skin and keep your skin hydrated throughout the day. Our favorite hydration hero? Hyaluronic acid.
Naturally found in our joints, connective tissue, and skin, this molecule retains and binds to moisture. And skincare formulas containing hyaluronic acid can help boost hydration and soften the visible signs of skin aging, such as fine lines and loss of elasticity.
2. Add-in exfoliation
Ideally, at-home exfoliation should be a regular fixture in your routine all year long, even for dry skin. Exfoliation helps get rid of dead skin cells and encourages healthy turnover — meaning it can also help smooth out your skin texture to get rid of dry, flaky skin.
But there are some special considerations when it comes to the colder months. Make sure to avoid manual exfoliants, AKA grainy exfoliating scrubs. These can irritate the skin further and lead to more dryness.
In a winter skincare routine for dry skin, chemical exfoliants like AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) are the ideal choice. Glycolic acid is a popular AHA with water-attracting properties — meaning it’s still effective while being kind to skin with the winter blues. Glycolic acid can be used regularly with dry skin in gentle formulas with low concentrations. Just make sure not to skip the sunscreen, as exfoliation can make the skin more sun-sensitive.
3. Switch to gentler skin-renewing ingredients
Your skin’s got enough going on with freezing temps and Sahara-dry indoor settings. Now’s not the time to have harsher ingredients in the mix.
Still, you can combat the visible signs of aging with products featuring winter-friendly ingredients. Take bakuchiol, for example, the retinol-like plant extract with a gentle profile. In a study on sensitive skin types, bakuchiol was proven both tolerable and effective in promoting a healthier appearance of photodamaged skin.2 So, if you’re looking for an alternative to retinoids, it’s the ideal addition to your winter skincare routine.
Another winter wonder is the indirect antioxidant melatonin. It works to repair oxidative damage to the skin. This means melatonin plays a role in protecting the skin, including free radical scavenging. And when our skin’s natural defenses are down, it might be just what we need.
4. Sunscreen is still a non-negotiable
Even as the days shorten and the nights get longer, you still need to protect your skin from UV radiation.
Sunburn-causing UVB rays are the strongest in the summertime. But, they can still take a toll on your skin year-round, especially when enjoying winter sports. The Skin Cancer Foundation advises, “Snow reflects up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV light, so the rays hit you twice, further increasing your risk of skin cancer and premature aging.”
Meanwhile, unlike UVB rays, UVA radiation is constant all day, year round. And it reaches your skin even on cloudy days and inside your car, office, or house. Opt for a sunscreen labeled as broad spectrum — meaning it meets FDA standards for UVA protection. And the higher the SPF, the higher the UVA protection will be too.
Our recommended winter skincare routine step by step
An oil cleanser is your best bet for a deep clean that doesn’t strip the skin. Oil attracts oil, making it ideal for gently removing any type of greasy residues, such as the skin’s own sebum, waterproof makeup, or water-resistant sunscreen.
Most importantly, look for oil cleansers with the softness of an emulsion. This cozy texture respects the skin barrier — keeping winter skin more than comfortable.
After cleansing, reach for eye contour cream. Applying before your serum helps the ingredients penetrate and protect the delicate skin.
Remember melatonin, that winter essential we mentioned? Try a melatonin eye cream, like Vital Eyes. It helps defend the delicate under-eye area against the effects of harsh environments. Bonus: its revitalizing effects help diminish the appearance of crow’s feet and fine lines around the eyes.
Reach for a hyaluronic acid serum after eye cream, both morning and evening. Enjoy the satin texture of our water-gel serum Hyaluronic Concentrate, or the 72-hour moisture of Hyaluronic Booster, to add volume to the skin and diminish the look of fine lines.
Looking to pair hydration with skin restoration? Turn to our overnight recovery serum with melatonin. Melatonik reinforces the skin’s moisture barrier for up to 8 hours after application¹, giving skin a healthy glow.
Now it’s time to seal in the moisture with a comforting, rejuvenating moisturizer.
Use Age Contour in the morning to redefine winter skin with a smoother, firmer, more hydrated complexion. Before bed, revel in our restorative formula Age Contour Night. On top of hydrating and calming the skin, it also boasts melatonin to help stimulate natural antioxidant defenses and reduce visible signs of skin aging.
Top off a winter-approved skincare routine with a lightweight sunscreen for everyday use. Eryfotona Actinica is a fast-absorbing, ultralight formula providing all-mineral broad spectrum sun protection. It also sports vitamin E: an antioxidant that helps to boost the skin’s natural defenses and protect against environmental damage.
At night, add in a gentle exfoliating product to illuminate your skin. The exfoliating action of glycolic acid helps to soften the skin’s texture and promote the skin-renewing process.
Our glycolic acid range is designed to meet the needs of every skin type, Find your perfect fit here:
- In a winter skincare routine for dry skin, reach for Glicoisdin Soft
- In a winter skincare routine for combination or oily skin, try Glicoisdin Moderate
- In a winter skincare routine for uneven or discolored skin, go for Glicoisdin Intense
Quick tip: During the ﬁrst week of use, apply a small amount of product on alternate days, and continuously during the following weeks.
As the temperatures drop, turn to this step-by-step winter face care routine and cozy up to healthy, beautiful skin.
Not ready to revise your whole routine? Remember that even small changes can make the difference between a dry, irritated complexion and comfy, hydrated skin. Start now, and you’ll warm up to the winter chill before you know it.
¹Data on file. ISDIN Corp. 2022. Morristown, NJ
2Draelos ZD, Gunt H, Zeichner J, Levy S. Clinical Evaluation of a Nature-Based Bakuchiol Anti-Aging Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2020 Dec 1;19(12):1181-1183. doi: 10.36849/JDD.2020.5522. PMID: 33346506.
3Engebretsen, K., Johansen, J., Kezic, S., Linneberg, A. and Thyssen, J. (2016), The effect of environmental humidity and temperature on skin barrier function and dermatitis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol, 30: 223-249. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.13301
4Meyer K, Pappas A, Dunn K, et al. Evaluation of Seasonal Changes in Facial Skin With and Without Acne. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: JDD. 2015 Jun;14(6):593-601. PMID: 26091385.
Article written and reviewed by:
Amy is a content strategist who turned a part-time obsession with skincare into a full-time passion. Her experience as a creative storyteller includes a range of lifestyle and technology topics across Washington D.C. and Barcelona. What's in her travel bag? Eye contour cream and sunscreen, always.