10 Winter Skin Care Tips to Add to Your Routine

Because dry skin is not on the guest list.
by Maggie Seaver
woman putting on lotion
iStock

When it comes to your prewedding beauty routine, skin care should be top of mind. If you’re planning on wearing a full face of makeup on your wedding day, you want to give your makeup artist a fresh, healthy canvas to work with. And if you’re going light on the cosmetics—or even au naturale—you’ll definitely want your bare, glowing complexion to speak for itself.

But there’s one major obstacle in the way of maintaining bright, supple skin: winter weather. It’s dry, it’s windy, it’s cold, it’s dark (ugh, can it be summer again?)—how on earth are you supposed to work with this, especially as a winter bride? January weather simply isn’t the same as July’s. So, just like your wardrobe and manicure colors, it’s time to switch up your skin care routine to suit the season.

What’s the Deal With Winter Skin, Anyway?

No, you’re not cursed—cold-weather skin symptoms affect pretty much everyone. “As the temperature starts to drop, so will the moisture levels in your skin, making caring for it even more of a priority,” says Maryam Zamani, MD, an oculoplastic surgeon, aesthetic doctor and creator of MZ Skin. “The wind and the cold outside can lead to redness, sensitivity and dryness, and can even cause cracks. Winter skin tends to be drier as humidity levels drop and changing temperatures from dry, indoor heating to cold, outdoor weather can wreak havoc on skin, making it appear more dry, red and sensitive.” Sound familiar? These tips are exactly what you need to look dewey and gorgeous, even if your wedding day calls for a foot of snow.

1. Get a Portable Humidifier

Your skin loses moisture in the winter because the air loses moisture. Blasting the heat inside can then make matters worse, which is why you should add humidity to your home. “During the winter months, most of us crank up the heat, [but] this dries out your skin,” says Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, board-certified dermatologist and HydroPeptide consultant. “Portable humidifiers, or those that work with your heating system, put moisture in the air that will be absorbed by your skin and hair.” There are snazzy humidifiers for a few hundred bucks if you want to invest, but you can also find super-affordable ones under $50 that get the job done just as well.

2. Drink Water

You probably knew this one was coming, so we won’t beat around the bush. The easiest way to stay hydrated (which is important for so many reasons beyond skin health) is to drink plenty of water. Keep a full glass or bottle near you all day, and don’t wait until you’re parched to drink up.

3. Keep Your Showers Short (and Not Too Hot)

We know, there’s nothing better than a long, toasty shower to make you forget it’s single digits outside—but they’re not great for your skin. “Frequent bathing or hot showers or baths can strip your skin of natural oils,” Imahiyerobo-Ip says. “Showers should be lukewarm and no more than 10 minutes.” And while in the shower, especially if you have very sensitive skin “[a]void deodorant bars and perfumed soaps, as well as alcohol-based products. When you get out, pat your skin dry and moisturize immediately.”

4. Know Your Creams From Your Lotions

You’ve been told to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize—so why aren’t you seeing results after applying lotion? You might need something heavier. Imahiyerobo-Ip suggests turning to a more substantial, oil-based moisturizer once the season changes. “Ointments or heavy creams seal water in the skin and preserve moisture,” she says. “A good way to know you’re buying an oil-based moisturizer is by reading the labels. You want to see the word ‘cream.’ Lotions are primarily made out of water and will quickly evaporate during the winter months, leaving your skin feeling dry.”

5. Take Care of That Delicate Eye Area

In terms of locking in moisture, the skin around your eyes requires special attention. According to Zamani, this particular area of the face struggles to produce its own moisture, which worsens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. “Nourishing this area is key to maintaining a softer periorbital area. Dark circles and fine lines can be treated in the winter months with eye creams and serums,” she says.

6. Choose Your Cleansers Carefully

When choosing the right cleanser for your skin, go for as mild a product as possible—Imahiyerobo-Ip suggests a gentle, foaming cleanser. “Even if you have acne-prone skin, using a strong cleanser or toner will strip it of natural oils and can cause winter breakouts. Use a gentle cleanser and visit your dermatologist so hydrating acne medications can be prescribed if necessary,” she says.

7. Exfoliate Weekly

Are you one of those scrub lovers who exfoliates every night? You might want to pump the breaks. Imahiyerobo-Ip says exfoliating more than once a week can leave your skin dry and irritated, particularly in the cold weather. So while you obviously want soft, rejuvenated skin on your wedding day, there’s such a thing as overdoing it. Zamani recommends using light AHA (alpha hydroxy acids)-based cleansers to exfoliate the top layers of skin, remove dead skin cells and unblock pores once a week.

8. Find a Quality Serum

If you don’t use serum, it’s time to get acquainted with it. There are different serums for different skin types and needs, so play with what works for you. “I like serums because they nourish without making your skin feel heavy in the evening,” Zamani says. “I like to start with an antioxidant serum rich in vitamin C to help protect the skin from UV damage while working to combat pigmentation and uneven skin tone. However, switching to a heavier hydrating moisturizer with an SPF of 30 during the day is also quite important.” Your derm might say a serum is all you need, but you’ll often want to layer on another moisturizer to replenish lost moisture, protect against UV rays and restore minerals.

9. Watch Out for Eczema

An eczema flare-up is the last thing you want right before you have to walk down the aisle. “The most common winter ailment I see in my office is eczema. If you’re prone to itchy rashes, see your dermatologist right away,” Imahiyerobo-Ip says. “If you have severe eczema, you want to make sure you have an appropriate medication to treat it.” Some people are more prone to it than others, but those with very dry skin should be more wary. “Anyone with excessively dry skin can get eczema, but you can prevent it by following [a good skin care routine]: Moisturize daily, use a humidifier in your room at night, take short showers and drink plenty of water.”

10. Don’t Forget Lips (and Hands and Feet)

You want kissable lips, pedi-ready feet and touchable, Instagramable hands on your wedding day, so give them some love by moisturizing multiple times a day. For lips, Imahiyerobo-Ip recommends good old Vaseline, which seals in moisture and heals cracked smackers like a dream. At night apply a thick layer of cream onto your hands and feet, and consider wearing gloves and socks to help the creams to fully absorb into your skin.

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