10 Winter Skin Care Tips to Follow Before Your Wedding

You'll be serving face in no time.
woman in winter attire putting on moisturizer
Photo: Lightfield Studios | Getty Images
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Jenn Barthole
jenn barthole headshot
Jenn Barthole
The Knot Fashion & Beauty Contributor
  • Based in New York City, Jenn Barthole is a Freelance Editor for The Knot, where she contributes fashion and beauty content.
  • Jenn also contributes wellness, interiors, celebrity, fashion, beauty, and travel content to notable publications including ELLE, Refinery 29, Domino, TripAdvisor, EBONY, Cosmopolitan and PopSugar.
  • She graduated with a major in Communications and a minor in Spanish, from Loyola University in Balt...
Updated May 09, 2023

Everyone dreams of looking their absolute best walking down the aisle, but harsh weather and the stress of wedding planning can leave your skin feeling extra dry and flaky. To preserve your skin health and boost your natural glow, it's time to upgrade your wedding beauty prep routine with some new winter skin care tips.

Even if you have the clearest complexion, a combination of freezing temps, rough winds, dry indoor heat and overall dreariness will strip your skin of its natural moisture and make it easier for acne, eczema, dandruff and other skin conditions to thrive. So, whatever shape your skin is in, we've got you covered. With the help of skincare experts, including aesthetician Shani Darden, celebrity makeup artist Joseph Carrillo, board certified dermatologist and dermatological surgeon Dr. Dendy Engelman, and aesthetician Diana Seo for head-to-toe solutions on how to keep skin hydrated during winter and keep it healthy all season long.

Read on for our list of the top 10 winter skincare tips, products and techniques, to help you say goodbye to dull-looking skin and enhance your wedding day glow.

1. Switch Up How You Cleanse

During the coldest season, avoid any cleansing products "containing drying ingredients such as alcohol, fragrance, astringents and sulfates that will strip the skin of natural oils," Dr. Engelman notes.

Instead, wash it once a day using an irritant-free, gel or oil-based option that's easier on parched skin. A mild product like The Lip Bar Clean Up Gel Facial Cleanser, forms a soft lather to remove makeup and impurities, without that tight 'squeaky clean' sensation. Infused with upcycled blueberry oil, cranberry and reishi mushroom extract, the cleanser also replenishes cell moisture and improves skin elasticity.

For the rest of your body, choose a hydrating soap like the Olay Total Moisture Body Wash, specifically made for sensitive skin. Both paraben and sulfate-free, the lotion-like formula is made with active ingredients like a Vitamin B3 complex and cocoa butter to instantly relieve rough skin and leave it feeling softer.

2. Don't Forget to Exfoliate

There is a common misconception that exfoliating during the winter will over-dry and irritate skin. However, when there's a lack of humidity, oil glands actually overcompensate for skin dryness by producing excess sebum that can become trapped beneath the skin, leading to dullness and breakouts. Celebrity Facialist Shani Darden notes, "You have to remove all of the dead skin on the surface in order for your hydrating products to work, all year round." Regardless of the season, "clearing congestion is absolutely essential for supple, glowing skin and preventing blemishes" she says. Just be sure to avoid rough scrubs or over-exfoliating, to preserve the skin's outer layer, and always follow up with moisturizer.

The Murad Environmental Shield Vita-C Triple Exfoliating Facial contains highly-effective chemical and enzymatic exfoliants that slough off dead skin cells while simultaneously infusing moisture. When used one to three times weekly, it is clinically proven to be as effective as a microdermabrasion facial, preventing acne and leaving skin reinvigorated with improved texture and tone. For a full body treatment, the Babe Essentials Jet Setter Body Scrub is infused with Haitian coffee to energize skin cells, stimulate blood flow, lymphatic and circulatory systems. Use it to treat rough and dry skin patches, tighten and firm skin to reduce the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks.

Leading up to your wedding day, slowly integrate stronger chemical exfoliants, like retinol or acids, into your routine. The Shani Darden two-step Triple Acid Signature Peel contains "a trio of acids: Lactic, Mandelic, and Glycolic to extract dirt, dissolve dead skin cells to resurface and brighten skin without irritating it." The peel is followed by a neutralizing Kaolin and Bentonite Clay mask to deeply clean and refine pores. Use the peel weekly or bi-weekly (depending on what your skin can tolerate) for visibly radiant and smoother skin, without any downtime.

3. Drench Parched Skin

Immediately after rinsing off your cleanser, Dr. Engelman advises to apply an antioxidant-rich serum to trap in moisture. Look for one with Hyaluronic acid, a fast-acting humectant renowned for its ability to "protect and heal the skin barrier by keeping moisture in and ensuring pollutants and irritants are kept out." The fast-absorbing Evelom Intense Hydration Serum, which contains a blend of Hyaluronic acid and vitamins. It is clinically proven to quench skin, increasing moisture levels up to 80%.

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To care for extra dry skin, use a thick moisturizer containing squalane, which "acts as an emollient and is amazing for sealing in moisture" on your face, body and feet. The Biossance Squalane + Caffeine Toning Body Cream has a dense, weightless formula containing sugarcane-derived squalene, which mimics skin's natural lipids to enhance product penetration, instantly moisturize, and restore elasticity.

Unprotected exposure to the sun, especially on reflective surfaces like snow or ice, can also deplete skin of moisture and speed up premature aging. To prevent damage from UVB rays and free radicals, always wear sunglasses, a hat and layer on broad-spectrum sunscreen before applying makeup. Darden praises the Supergoop! Play SPF 50 Everyday Lotion for its "hydrating formula that blends seamlessly and doesn't cause congestion."

4. Wake Up To Your Freshest Self

To level up your beauty sleep, add these products and habits to your nightly regimen so you'll wake up dewy and fresh. To reduce undereye bags and dark circles, swear a thin layer of eye cream nightly. The Elemis Pro-Collagen Vitality Eye Cream is enriched with Padina Pavonica, a moisture-boosting, brown algae that quenches and firms delicate skin. To reap the maximum benefits, Dr. Engelman suggests wearing the Slip Satin Sleep Mask as you snooze "to keep your eye cream from budging and reduce friction" so you'll wake up looking anything but fatigued.

To encourage further skin repair, massage on "face oils containing potent minerals and Vitamins A and E, which are amazing at encouraging cell turnover, a few times per week" says Dr. Engelman. A generous amount of the silky Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil before bed serves as a multi-tasking complex that deeply hydrates, helps control breakouts, and minimizes wrinkles so you'll awake with a luminous glow. As a bonus, apply it to your cuticles and end of hair strands to soften them.

Running a humidifier all night can also help boost the effectiveness of your products and counteract indoor heaters. Darden suggests this top-rated version from Canopy Humidifier, noting "the machine is small, but it's very powerful and really helps to support healthy, hydrated skin by keeping moisture in the air".

5. Fight the Flakes

Common ailments like eczema, dandruff and chapped lips are likely to worsen during winter since the skin and scalp are likely to be more fragile. But with the right ingredients and some TLC, you can ensure your wedding photos are flake free.

For a clean and clear scalp, be sure to use a moisture-rich, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner set, like the It's A 10 Scalp Restore Miracle Charcoal Shampoo and Miracle Tingling Conditioner. The shampoo is equipped with potent natural ingredients like carbon charcoal to detox scalp from excess yeast, oil, and product buildup. To replenish your scalp's moisture and alleviate itchiness, the conditioner is filled with amino acids, cooling peppermint and tea tree oils.

If you suffer from flaky skin or are eczema-prone, Dr. Engelman recommends products that contain ceramides, which are "naturally found in the skin's protective barrier…those with eczema or exceptionally dry skin need added ceramides to their routines as the functionality of this barrier can be disrupted, especially in the winter." Colloidal oatmeal is another essential ingredient that serves as a skin protectant to combat irritation and relieve itchiness. Both are present in the award-winning First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration, a thick, face-and-body moisturizer that instantly penetrates parched skin to treat inflammation, reduce redness, and topically heal skin.

6. Say Bye Bye to Bloat

Feeling a little puffy from enjoying the holiday festivities or a few too many glasses of wine? Fear not. Incorporating deep-tissue facial massages, with sculpting and lymphatic drainage techniques, into your skincare regimen will take you from swollen to snatched in no time.

Used as a natural alternative to Botox, "sculpting relaxes and tones the underlying muscles of the face and jaw to release tension. It restores skin plumpness, reduces fine lines, scarring, wrinkles and even improves facial symmetry for a contoured effect" explains Carrillo, who sculpts his celeb clients before a red carpet appearance or photoshoot. He also uses lymphatic drainage, the process of stimulating lymph nodes to drain excess fluid and toxins, to slim the face and energize skin. "It boosts blood circulation and oxygen flow, making the skin appear tighter, lifted and more youthful…giving clients a clearer complexion and inner glow" says Carrillo. Below, he provides a step by step tutorial using both techniques. Use it daily to reduce bloat, refresh dull skin and enhance your natural features.

  • Rub a generous amount of face oil into the skin and select a gua sha tool (we like the Yina Gua Sha Discovery Set) or you can use the back of a cold spoon. Glide the tool from the center of your chin along your jawline to your lower ear. Continue to move the gua sha from the jaw, down the neck until you meet the clavicle.

  • Glide the tool from the side of the nose, along the nasolabial fold, across the cheek to the upper ear.

  • Start at the inner corner of the eye and glide gua sha to the temple, straight down to the jaw, and further down the neck to meet the clavicle.

Carrillo instructs, "Repeat each move 12 times on each side of the face. Always start each movement towards the center of the face and glide it outwards toward each lymph node while applying medium pressure." For video instruction and other tips, visit his Instagram @sculptedbyjoseph.

7. Faux Your Glow

If your winter-plagued complexion is feeling ashy and lackluster, integrating self-tanning oils into your skincare routine can boost your bronze and simultaneously nourish your skin. Filled with skin-loving ingredients, these products work for all skin tones, from fair to deep, and create a healthy-looking tan that will make you feel more confident and photogenic during your wedding festivities.

For a luminous complexion, Carrillo recommends using self-tanning drops—the latest in nontoxic tanning technology. The St. Tropez Luxe Tan Tonic Glow Drops is a supercharged concentrate infused with a 100% natural tanning active which can be applied directly onto skin or blended with your daily serum, moisturizer or face oil for a more subtle effect. The dermatologically tested formula contains Hyaluronic Acid, and Vitamins C & E, to protect and smooth skin, as you gradually build up a glow. Also, the drops are customizable; the more you apply, the more your glow intensifies.

To mimic a full-body tan, Carrillo raves about the Costa Brazil Sol Sunlight Body Oil which "delivers an instant glow that makes skin shimmer without looking greasy." The illuminating oil contains a nutrient-rich complex, with Vitamins A and E, to help to soften fine lines, enhance skin's firmness and even restore moisture. Apply daily from the neck down for a super-charged glow, no tropical island vacation required.

8. Mask Up and See Results

A multi-tasting mask can deliver triple the skin benefits of a single product in one sitting. Before your next Netflix marathon, kick back and mask up for better skin—minimal effort required.

If you're dealing with acne, a balanced mask can be much more effective than acne-fighting topicals, containing potent acids that are just too abrasive for dry skin. A dual-action mask like the Youth to The People Superclay Purify + Clear Power Mask will target blemishes gently. Formulated with salicylic acid and triple-clay natural detoxifiers, the masks draws out impurities, gently exfoliates, and absorbs excess oil without stripping skin. Supercharged with 2% niacinamide and kombucha black tea, it also improves clarity, tightens pores while strengthening the moisture barrier and balancing skin's natural microbiome.

As a more innovative option, the cutting edge Shani Darden Pro LED Light Therapy Mask delivers a megawatt dose of red, blue and near-infrared light therapy to stimulate skin's cellular response. The futuristic mask alleviates mild to moderate acne, targets pigmentation, and boosts collagen production to visibly diminish fine lines wrinkles and increase skin's radiance. Clinical studies conclude that using the mask daily, in 10-minute doses, is proven to provide noticeably clearer, calmer, more radiant skin after only 12 treatments.

9. Strategize a Treatment Timeline

Incorporating aesthetic procedures and cosmetic tweaks into your beauty regimen can make you look refreshed and more photogenic in just a few sessions. To magnify your results, "always consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon for an individualized treatment plan, understanding potential side effects, and scheduling your appointments strategically" notes Dr. Engelman.

If you're considering injectables, "Botox and filler are great options for making minor tweaks to the lips, chin, forehead, 11-lines, jaw, crows-feet, etc." notes Dr. Engelman. The type of injectable you need really depends on your desired results. Botox or Dysport are the most effective for smoothing fine lines, preventing wrinkles, reshaping the face, and even lifting the brows. To restore volume and contour the face, she advises "Restylane filler treatment is a great option for filling in sunken areas, such as the under-eyes or to elevate the cheeks." To ensure you are seeing your best results when you walk down the aisle, "First-timers should begin no less than four months prior to the big day to ensure they like the look and feel of it. If you're a regular, I recommend getting it done two to three weeks before your wedding day so it has enough time to take full effect, and that any bruising or swelling from the filler is long gone."

For complete skin rejuvenation, resurfacing laser treatments, like Fraxel and CO2, dramatically improve texture by minimizing scarring, sun damage, deep lines and dark spots. Dr. Engelman explains, "Fraxel is a great option for acne scarring, while CO2 lasers are a bit more intense and treat a wider range of conditions and take a longer time for the skin to recover. Laser resurfacing is a great treatment to treat hyperpigmentation, and pair this with a Vitamin C product, you will see great results!." She notes, "As most laser treatments need upwards of three sessions to get the best results possible, with downtime being around one-week per session, I would recommend getting your laser treatment seven or eight months prior to your wedding."

10. Prep Your Skin

In the final month leading up to your wedding day, there are some extra steps you can take to pamper and prepare your skin to be a smooth, refined canvas for flawless makeup application.

To tone and tighten your face, eyes and neck, the tech-driven Forma Facial is a "breakthrough, non-invasive treatment that uses a thermal radio-frequency energy, to rebuild collagen in the skin without the use of injectables or surgery" explains Seo. Generating new collagen delivers younger, firmer looking skin that is noticeable after your first or second treatment. For optimal results, Seo suggests weekly sessions over a six to eight-week period leading up to your wedding day.

For makeup application, test some primers in advance to figure out what works best for your skin type. "I love this 3-in-1 Glossier Priming Moisturizer Balance Cream, a gel-like control cream specifically formulated for oily and combination skin that balances natural oils without drying it out." shares Carrillo. The lightweight gel cream absorbs quickly and minimizes pores so skin looks mattified, but never powdery or dry and will keep your makeup intact for a long night on the dance floor.

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