Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Winter Facial Care

Dear Belle, 

My skin gets really dry during the winter.  My face starts peeling in October and I feel like it doesn’t stop until May.  Do you use a face moisturizer that you can recommend?


Adjusting to winter weather and a drier climate can be very hard on skin, especially delicate facial skin.  But keeping your skin supple and clear during the winter isn’t just about applying the right moisturizer.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat. You need to start getting your skin in winter shape, you need to look at your face soap.  Using a harsh soap that strips moisture from your skin is the wrong way to go.  I like Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel ($35) for every skin type because it washes everything off without drying out your face.  If you have acne, I recommend Clarisonic’s clarifying cleanser ($27).  And if you’re looking for a drugstore brand, look not further than Cetaphil.

Scrub-a-Dub. Once you cleanse, you need to exfoliate.  Because during the winter months, it is even more important to make sure that the dead, rough skin gets scrubbed away.

As you know, I am a HUGE supporter of the Clarisonic device.  Whether you go for the new Clarisonic Aria (priced at $199, with code TRICK20 it’s $160) or the less-expensive Mia (regularly $119, with code TRICK20 $97), if you have the means, I highly-recommend buying one.  And make sure to choose the best brush for your skin type.  

I once had a dermatologist tell me that no woman needed to be using a brush stronger than the sensitive one.  So I would stick to either sensitive, delicate or– if you have problem skin like mine–the acne brush head.

I’m basically a Clarisonic crack dealer.  That’s just how much I love this product.  I even own two, so that I have a Mia to carry with me when I travel.  If you want to read more about my unfettered obsession, including tips on cleaning and maintenance, click here.

If you want a cheaper method for scrubbing your face, a nubby wash cloth and some tepid water will do wonders or you can buy a true face scrub.  If that’s the case, I recommend one with gentle scrubbers, not rough granules.  Dermalogica Microfoliant does the trick, but it’s a bit pricey at $50.  I also like the Aveeno Positively Radiant scrub ($8) for gentle exfoliation.

Moisturize.  Now, after all that we get to moisturizer.  The only brand I use on my face is Ole (pronounced ooh-luh) Henriksen.  I actually own three different formulas which I rotate based on need.  For really dry skin, I use the Vitamin Creme ($35) for every day use the Ole Henriksen Express the Truth cream ($65).  (I buy it during Skinstore’s 20-percent-off sales, and stockpile it.)

If you need a drugstore version, you should look for something that’s natural, paraben free and pack full of antioxidants.  My only suggestions would be shot in the dark, but if I were in the market for something cheaper, I’d look at Yes to Tomatoes Rich Day Creme ($15) or Neutrogena Naturals Nourishing Night Creme ($13).

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  1. CB says:

    I have really dry skin, even in humid New Orleans. I swear by Origins Make a Difference Ultra Rich Rejuvenating Cream. It's the only thing that works for me. It's not cheap at $50 a pop, but it's worth it. I also use Pond's Cold Cream to cleanse my face – makes me smell like an old lady but seriously cuts back on my flakiness.

    October 18, 2012/Reply
  2. anne says:

    I have extremely dry skin and I’m on 2 topical acne medications that dry me our further. I second cold cream (I used a C.O. Bigelow version) in the winter, but since it takes more effort for my lazy a** to wipe off, I generally use Mario Badescu’s Cucumber Cream Soap, it’s mild but effective for cleansing. For moisturizer, I love Jason’s 25000 IU Vitamin E Age Renewal Moisturizing Cream. I put it on after I wash my face in the morning, let it sink in, and then put my sunscreen on top.

    But perhaps my holy grail cream, which I’m too cheap to buy right now, is Bobbi Brown Extra Repair Moisturizing Balm – it’s serious, and best used at night.

    And a lotion at an in-between price is Jurlique’s Moisture Replenishing Day Cream, luxurious rosey fragrance, effective humectants.

    And get a humidifier for your bedroom and/or stop using the fan when you shower and leave your bathroom door open. Having more moisture in your living environment helps.

    October 18, 2012/Reply
  3. sara says:

    The Neutrogena Naturals regular day lotion is very moisturizing too. I tried it on a whim and really love it. I have flaky face syndrome all year round (even with a gentle cleanser and a Clarisonic) but this seems to have relieved it. It does smell strongly of fruity candy at first, but it fades pretty quickly. That's the only downside I can see after a couple months of use.

    October 18, 2012/Reply
  4. Sam says:

    I have acne-prone skin and my dermatologist recommended CeraVe. I just switched to their AM moisturizer since it's starting to get cold and dry out (my Neutrogena Healthy Defense doesn't cut it in the winter). I've been using their PM formula too which has been hydrating without being greasy. Available at CVS (on sale right now) and Target.

    October 18, 2012/Reply
  5. Quinn says:

    A few years ago, I thought I had dry skin during the winter but it turned out I just needed to exfoliate. So I complete agree with Belle when she says that exfoliating is a must especially during the winter time. I use Clinique Clarifying Lotion (it's like a toner but doesn't leave my face stinging) everyday and a scrub at least once a week. For the scrub I use Origins Never a Dull Moment and if I exfoliate twice a week, the second time, I use something a little milder like Clinique's 7 Day Scrub. For the lotion, I use Aveeno.

    October 18, 2012/Reply
  6. Michelle says:

    Cetaphil also makes a great facial moisturizer with sunscreen for about $15. I swear by it!

    October 18, 2012/Reply
  7. Kara says:

    I second the CeraVe recommendation. My dermatologist also recommended it to me when I was having an eczema issue and I've been hooked ever since. The moisturizing cleanser is great — not too heavy but doesn't dry you out, and then I follow with the AM/PM moisturizers. It also works with the Clarisonic, which thanks to Belle I am also addicted to!

    October 18, 2012/Reply
  8. Bree says:

    I don't recommend using the Clarisonic if you have very dry skin. Even the most sensitive setting can be damaging and worsen redness/flaking. My dermatologist was horrified by the idea for me.

    October 18, 2012/Reply
  9. N says:

    Question about Ole–I recently bought the “sample” kit that had the anti-aging Vitamin C based products. LOVE. However I seem to have issues with the two morning products and was wondering if I was just doing something wrong or it's a product thing. A few minutes after application it kind of starts to flake (like your skin peeling after a sunburn) and I have to rub them off which takes several minutes. It's a mess. There's no redness or anything so I'm thinking it's product and not skin. After some trials I believe it's the truth serum collagen booster causing more issues and not the truth revealed super creme. I have tried waiting 5 minutes between applying the two but it doesn't seem to work. Does this happen with you? Is there a particular way I'm supposed to be applying it? Thanks!!

    October 19, 2012/Reply
  10. Trish says:

    REN micro polish cleanser and origins night a mins moisturizer!!! Both of those products are so wonderful!!

    October 19, 2012/Reply
  11. Phoebe says:

    My face gets pretty dry in the winter, and I definitely recommend the Clinique Moisture Surge Intense. Whenever my face gets so dry that it burns, putting this on is the biggest relief ever. And it's affordable (though not dirt cheap).

    October 19, 2012/Reply
  12. espie says:

    I swear by Lancome's Nutrix Royal Intense Lipid Repair Cream. My skin is always dry and really sensitive. While the cream is rather expensive ($58!) I swear by it during the fall and winter. A little goes a long way, it's the only thing that keeps my skin moist, it smells nice and isn't so oil that you can apply it before make up or primer in the morning.

    October 19, 2012/Reply
  13. Amy says:

    The best advice I've ever received from a dermatologist (pre-Clarisonic) was to use really cheap, nubby washclothes to wash my face, and to use a fresh one everytime. Even a clean washcloth will develop bacteria if left wet all day.

    October 19, 2012/Reply
  14. Katherine says:

    If you're looking for a drugstore moisturizer, Eucerin Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Sensitive Skin Creme is really nice and a great price. For gentle manual exfoliation, get a pack of baby wash cloths. They're really soft and get the job done.

    October 19, 2012/Reply
  15. Stephanie says:

    My go-to product for moisturizing and evening out my skin – especially when it gets cold and dry – is Aveda Balancing Infusion for sensitive skin (though they also have some for dry skin). I add a drop or two to a generic sensitive skin lotion morning and/or night, and it works wonders in protecting my skin from the cold. The bottles are kind of pricey, but depending on the season one lasts me 3-6 months.

    October 19, 2012/Reply
  16. Caroline says:

    I exfoliate 2-3 times a week, and the rest of the time I wash with a gentle ayurvedic cleanser. At night I rub almond oil into my skin and in the morning I use coconut oil. This would probably be too heavy and oily for most people, but for those of us with extremely dry skin it really works well. Be sure to drink lots of water, too!

    October 22, 2012/Reply