Dealing with dry winter skin? In this post, I have five tips for keeping your skin hydrated and soft.
Even though I’ve lived in Southern California for the last 13 years, I spent the first quarter century of my life in New England. So I know the pain of dry, sandpaper-y, cracking skin that can come with winter.
When temperatures drop, indoor heating comes on and the air can get much drier. Chances are, you’ll need to shift your skincare routine a little bit now that the colder months are upon us. With that in mind, here are five ways to beat the dry winter skin blues.
1) Swap to a hydrating cleanser.
No, you don’t have to stop washing your face, but you may want to change 1) how often you’re cleansing and 2) the type of cleanser you’re using.
If your skin is already on the combination or dry side, cleansing two – or more! – times a day is probably too much in the dry winter months. Even if your skin is oily, overcleansing is problematic. A splash of warm water when you wake up in the morning will suffice along with your normal evening routine.
Switching to a more hydrating cleanser can work wonders in winter because it will put oils back into your skin. Yes, that’s right. Remember from chemistry class that like dissolves like, so cleansing with skin-nourishing oils kills two birds with one stone.
Experiment with a traditional oil cleansing method, or if that’s a little too intimidating, try a cleansing balm that contains nourishing oils like avocado, jojoba, and sweet almond.
2) Hydrate from the inside.
Of course, hydration is also an inside-out deal. If you’re dehydrated, which is quite easy to do in the winter months due to the dry air, it’s going to show on the outside as well. Stay on top of your hydration to ease dry winter skin.
A general guideline is to take in half your bodyweight in ounces of fluid each day, but everyone’s body chemistry is different. You may need to adjust if you sweat more (hello, hot yoga!), live in dry or humid conditions, drink a lot of diuretic beverages (like alcohol, sweetened soda, or concentrated fruit juices), eat a lot of packaged (not fresh) foods, or take certain medications.
Try starting your day with 16 ounces of water plus a pinch of pink Himalayan salt to get your daily hydration kicked off.
3) Skip the harsh exfoliators.
At the first sign of flaky, dry winter skin you may rush for heavy duty exfoliators. But when skin is already parched, rough exfoliators can make things worse.
Yes, getting rid of the top-most dry layer of dead skin cells makes it easier for moisturizers to penetrate into the skin, but if you’re feeling extra dry, now’s not the time for extreme exfoliation. Choose something that’s non-abrasive or a scrub that contains hydrating oils for best results.
My pick for face: Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser
4) Stay up on your healthy fats.
Low fat diets and hydrated skin don’t go together. Back when I ate really low fat, my skin was at its worst, especially in winter. It would crack, peel, and bleed…especially on my hands. No fun.
Hydrated, healthy skin takes a combination of approaches, and what you eat matters. Getting adequate healthy fats – and being able to digest them – is key because fats make up the membranes of every single cell in your body, form the basis of your sex hormones, and help you absorb vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
Exactly how much fat a person needs is bioindividual so I encourage you not to stress too much about the number of grams. But make sure you eat a variety of high-quality plant and animal fats, including essential omega-3 fatty acids.
5) Change moisturizers.
If you tend to use a lighter daytime moisturizer in the summer months, now may be the time to change up your routine. Thicker facial moisturizers and rich body butters are great in winter when your skin is starved for moisture.
Or, switch it up to a heavier-duty night cream before bed in combination with a lighter daytime moisturizer in the morning. Now that I’m almost 40, I use a dedicated under-eye cream as well since I have combination skin and my eye area is always quite a bit drier.
Help beat dry winter skin with some simple shifts like:
- Staying up on your water/fluid intake.
- Avoiding harsh exfoliators.
- Eating enough healthy fats.
- Opting for a more hydrating cleanser and moisturizer.
Make sure to sign up for my safer skincare newsletter. It’s packed with information and education about the link between skin and inner health, what to know about personal care products, special offers, and more. Click here to join the Safer Skincare newsletter.
Note: the links in this post were updated in November 2020.