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Ask the Edit: Solutions for Dry Winter Skin


I just moved from southern Texas to a much more northern state. Though I️ was able to get my wardrobe in gear for the cold, I’m finding my skin is a different story. How on earth do you keep your skin hydrated and ward off dry patches in a colder climate? We are two days in to real cold and my face is looking ROUGH. Any advice is appreciated!

– Cold and confused 

For many women, winter skin is a special kind of torture.  It can get dry, itchy, rough, and uncomfortable.  Here are some tips for managing winter skin.

First, you must hydrate your body.  We know we need to drink water when it’s hot, but we’re not as good at staying hydrated when it’s cold.  I recommend keeping a water bottle in your bag so you can have water handy.  This Zojirushi water bottle is my favorite.

Second, you must combat the dry air.  If you suffer from dry winter skin, you need a humidifier by your bed (and maybe on your desk).  This Yeti Cool Mist Humidifier ($15) is small enough to use anywhere.  For something a little larger, this Crane droplet humidifier is a good choice.

Before you spend a fortune on creams and potions to fight winter dryness, try a humidifier by the bed.  It makes a big difference.  It’s also helpful if you wake up with a dry throat each morning.

Third, choose a gentle face wash.  This is no time for harsh chemicals.  I use It! Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser because it’s very creamy and gentle, but still effective.  For a gentle cleanser that’s less expensive, try Cerave Hydrating Facial Cleanser.

Fourth, try a serum with hyaluronic acid.  It’s always sounded odd to me, but hyaluronic acid is very hydrating.  The best straight hyaluronic acid serums come from Timeless and The Ordinary.  Both serums are under-$15 and easy to add to any regimen.

Fifth, find a moisturizer that works for you.  Finding the right moisturizer is like finding the right birth control method — it’s specific and highly personal.  The moisturizer that works for my skin might be garbage for you.  The moisturizer I hate might be your very favorite ever.

So how do you find your special moisturizer?  Samples.  Go to Sephora, or Ulta, or Nordstrom and get samples.  Tell the woman what your skin concerns are and then pick up a few samples.  Try to get enough for four days.

As for mine, in the winter, It! Cosmetics Secret Sauce.  It’s not perfect, but it’s half the price of my very favorite Tammy Fender Intensive Repair Balm and gives reasonably similar results.

If none of that is good enough for you, I’ve heard people rave about Ursa Major’s Fortifying Face Balm.  It’s supposed to be incredibly soothing and hydrating.  And if that still isn’t enough, it may sound insane, but a girlfriend of mine smears Honest Co. Nipple Balm on her face when the wind in Alaska gets bad.

So do you suffer from dry, winter skin?  How do you care for it?  Share your best tips in the comments.

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  1. Strin012 says:

    For the body, I swear by O’Keefe’s Skin Repair. You can find it at Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond.

    December 26, 2018/Reply
  2. J says:

    For a drug store brand of winter face cream, I love the L’Oreal Collagen day/night cream. I use it year-round but more often and more generously in the winter. The Aveda hand cream is the best I’ve found. BioOil is the best on your body. I love to put a layer on followed by a layer of lotion, which seems to help it absorb better. And a trusty tub of Vaseline for the tough patches.

    December 26, 2018/Reply
  3. Jess says:

    A thin layer of Aquaphor at night works wonders.

    December 26, 2018/Reply
  4. Siri says:

    For body – I swear by Cetaphil moisturizing cream (a doctor recommended it to me in my first Midwest winter). For face – I sometimes also add a sleeping mask on top of my serum and moisturizer to really seal everything in. I’ve used the Dr. Jart+ sleeping pack and the Glow Recipe watermelon sleeping mask and like them both, but there are a lot of options out there.

    December 26, 2018/Reply
  5. Kelly says:

    I got those dry patches last year. I ended up using Belif’s moisture bomb. Previously I’d used the Eucerin tub on my angry winter skin patches but those were not on my face. I also love YuBe creme, it’s basically instant relief.

    December 26, 2018/Reply
    • Crystal says:

      Belif Moisture Bomb is my daily moisturizer. (I have skin like the Sahara.) It’s excellent!

      December 31, 2018/Reply
  6. Christine says:

    For the body, consider Eucerin Intensive Repair Lotion. It’s very thick and affordable. I have year round dry skin, and during the 50-degree “winter” in Southern California, my legs looked like what I can only describe as peeling alligator skin. After 3 weeks, I have almost normal looking skin. Cannot recommend it enough.

    December 27, 2018/Reply
  7. Jen says:

    Tip on the humidifier (I have two kiddos and have one for each of them):The Crane is very high maintenance. If you don’t empty and dry it out every single day it gets super slimy and that pink stuff starts to grow. Also, it has a green indicator light on it that is super bright and is hard to block. I also have a PureGuardian humidifier and it’s the best. Super low maintenance. The control panel lighting is super bright blue but is easily blocked by a piece of paper and tape. Yes, it’s twice the price of the Crane but it’s totally worth it if you use it often.

    My favorite (only) moisturizer and hyaluronic acid are from a small company, Austin Skin+! I highly recommend.

    December 27, 2018/Reply
  8. Anna says:

    This winter I’ve been moisturizing with argan oil that I brought back from vacation in October, and it’s worked great. I rub two drops between my palms and pat on my face right after I wash my face, when it’s just dry but hasn’t gotten tight. It soaks in and isn’t greasy at all. No dry patches or flakiness and no breakouts. I’ve even been skipping washing in the mornings, just rinsing with water, and my skin hasn’t felt oily during the day.

    December 27, 2018/Reply
  9. Sarah says:

    For body, the Alba Botanical Very Emollient is amazing. Read the reviews. A lot of people in harsh climates love it. T is as moisturizing as specialty lotion but not at all sticky or heavy. It’s improved my life very much.

    December 27, 2018/Reply
  10. KateL says:

    La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume is great for spot treatment of dry spots. I also apply a thin layer for long runs on cold days.

    December 27, 2018/Reply
    • Kate says:

      I second this! Amazing product and can be found at CVS and target.

      December 27, 2018/Reply
  11. Jess says:

    Don’t use hyaluronic acid in dry winter air unless you are either using a humidifier or sealing it in with an occlusive. Hyaluronic acid draws in water from the air, but if the air is too dry it will draw moisture from the skin instead and make your skin drier. If you don’t want to add water to the air with a humidifier, try applying hyaluronic acid on a slightly damp face (this is helpful anyway) and then layering an occlusive like vaseline or aquaphor on top to prevent transepidermal water loss.

    December 27, 2018/Reply
  12. Keilexandra says:

    I layer two products:
    – First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum, let dry for 30 seconds
    – CeraVe PM Moisturizer, which is an inexpensive lightweight serum-type moisturizer with hyaluronic acid

    I’m hit-or-miss on other FAB products but I really like the hydrating serum for giving my CeraVe, or any other moisturizer, extra punch in a dry winter climate. And it doesn’t feel greasy on my skin like heavier moisturizers tend to.

    December 29, 2018/Reply
  13. Holly says:

    I suffer from dry patches on my face during Montana’s Winters and I’ve found a cleansing balm and a facial oil really help. My picks are Beautycounter’s cleansing balm and the no. 1 facial oil. (Full disclosure, I am a Beautycounter consultant because I love the products so much.) I can apply the facial oil below my lotion to give the dry spots some extra while maintaining my usual routine for the rest of my skin. And the cleansing balm isn’t too drying either. Also great points on hydrating the body and using a humidifier!!

    December 30, 2018/Reply
  14. Claire O. says:

    If you live near a Nordstrom Rack, they sell the massive tubes of Bliss Naked Body Butter for a reasonable price. I love that it doesn’t have a scent and keeps my hands and legs from itching with dryness.

    December 30, 2018/Reply
  15. Willo says:

    I love incorporating oils in the winter. A drop mixed in with your moisturizer especially at night makes a huge difference. I also like a layer of oil after my hydrating toner/essence or a drop mixed in with my foundation. Some favorites are squalene, avocado and rose hip.

    December 30, 2018/Reply