Great skin isn’t just a sign of good health, it’s also a seriously attractive feature in a woman of any age. So what do you do when winter bares her teeth and ushers in dry, uninspired, or even downright itchy skin? You kick your cold air skincare regimen into high gear and make it to the spring equinox looking radiant. Recently, skincare addicts have been touting the miraculous benefits of a 10-step Korean skincare regimen. But if you’re a mere mortal like me, you may only have the time, money, and patience for…slightly fewer steps. I did the research about simple changes beauty experts and dermatologists make to their routines to combat the effects of winter, and present perfect morning and evening winter skin routines that pack a punch but won’t overtax your wallet, or your patience.
The “Good Morning” Routine
Resist that bracingly hot shower you love.
At least, don’t take them too often during the winter, as anything over lukewarm for longer than 10 to 15 minutes can actually cause lasting harm to your skin in addition to over-drying it. The same goes for washing your face in the sink.
Switch to a cream cleanser.
Foaming or gel cleansers, or ones with other drying ingredients, like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, should be stashed on the shelf in winter when you’ll want to reach for a creamier option. We like CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for a cheaper choice, or Murad Renewing Cleansing Cream for a few more bucks. Both are gentle enough for oily, dry, and combination skin.
Treat your skin to an extra layer of healing.
Between cleansing and moisturizer, it’s a good idea to apply at least one additional layer of nourishing protection during winter. If you tend to have oily, breakout-prone skin, you can opt for a very light serum like the Chlorella Serum from Skin Inc. that promises to “brighten and tackle” acne spots while it hydrates and de-flakes skin. If you struggle with a drier face, though, you might want to splurge on a serum with hyaluronic acid like Caudalie’s Vinosource S.O.S Thirst Quenching Serum.
Moisturize and protect.
Keeping your face hydrated and protected from the harsh winter elements is a must for maintaining healthy and pretty skin. Even if your skin usually produces more oil than you’d like, you’ll probably need a creamier product in winter than you do in summer. But don’t ditch that summer SPF when making the switch. Even if it’s not sunny out, the harsh rays of the sun can travel right through cloud cover and damage skin no matter how low the temps go. Yep, dermatologists say you should wear sunscreen every single day of the year. But you can save a step and still stay protected by choosing a creamy moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or more. We love Juice Beauty Oil Free Moisturizer with SPF 30 for oily or blemish-prone skin or Olay Professional Pro-X Age Repair Lotion (also SPF 30) for dry or aging skin.
The Goodnight Routine
Bye-Bye Makeup Residue
Before you cleanse at night, you’ll want to remove any makeup you applied in the morning or throughout the day. Though any gentle, non-drying makeup remover will work, I personally love using an inexpensive and gentle micellar water on a cotton pad—no rinsing necessary! Then your morning cleanser and serum can step up to do double duty on the night shift. No need for a different cleanser in the evening. Make life easy on yourself and cleanse your face thoroughly with the same product you used to start your day, then apply a light coating of your favorite serum to your face and neck.
Moisturize, p.m. style.
You don’t need SPF when the moon is out, so try a nighttime-specific option like CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream, which is thick and creamy (but won’t clog pores), or you can splurge on a truly decadent anti-aging night cream like Vichy LiftActiv Night Supreme, which promises anti-wrinkle and firming effects in addition to hydration. You’re headed for bed, so it’s a great time to lay it on thick and let the nourishing ingredients soak in.
Pamper your pucker.
Don’t forget to care for the sensitive skin on your lips, which can get flaky and dry quite easily in the winter. In addition to making sure your body is hydrated by drinking lots of water, it’s a good idea to keep a stick of gentle lip balm in your bedside table to swipe on right before you turn off the lights so the moisture can soak in as you sleep.
Not everyone needs an eye cream separate from their normal facial moisturizer, but if fighting signs of aging is one of your goals, dabbing on a gentle eye cream like Clinique’s All About Eyes every morning after moisturizer and before makeup will fight wrinkles and fine lines. Finally, you may think frequent exfoliating would be just the thing to rid your face of scaly, flaky winter skin. But experts say exfoliating just once a week is enough. On Sunday nights, after cleansing, I like to use a gentle exfoliating mask like this one from Karuna. Then, you can follow up with serum and an intensive moisturizing night mask (like this lovely pick from Clinique) that you wear until you rise and shine…with glowing, beautiful skin, of course.
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