I've been getting loads of questions about how to rescue winter skin. Between the frigid temps (-25 is no joke!) and dry AF indoor heating, many of us are dealing with skin that's dry, tight, flaky, and depleted.
The good news is tackling winter skin is pretty simple with the right products and the right techniques, so this former skincare trainer created a winter skin guide for ya. I'll start with steps for a great winter routine, and then I'll share fab products from 15 different brands for all budgets. Let's go!
the winter routine
Cleanse: Cleansing in the morning is optional IMHO cuz you washed your face before bed and all you've been doing is sleeping. But if you prefer to wash again in the morning, reach for a simple, soap-free cleanser like a micellar water.
At night time, use a soap-free cleansing balm, oil, or cream to gently dissolve dirt and makeup. Particularly in winter time it's bet to avoid anything foamy, because those formulas strip moisture. Remove your cleanser with a muslin cloth, wash cloth, or biodegradable cotton pad.
Cleansing wipes are fine in a pinch (travel, gym bag, late nights), but don't use them daily cuz they won't do your skin any favours.
Tone: Toners are the unsung heroes of a skincare routine. They're usually a liquid in a pump, spray, or aerosol bottle, and you mist them over your face after cleansing. Say you try to wipe your countertop with a dry sponge. Doesn't work well because the dry sponge can't absorb much. But dampen it and you're good to go, right?
The same principle is true for your skin: use a few squirts of toner to dampen your skin and your serums and creams will sink in more effectively. So much so that you can use less! Tip: look for toners that are alcohol-free. If you're like me and don't cleanse in the morning, toner becomes your first A.M. step.
Serum: Serums, concentrates, and oils will be your BFF this winter. They usually come in wee pump bottles or little glass jars with a dropper, and you'll generally use 1-2 pumps or 2-3 drops.
In the morning, reach for a light formula that absorbs quickly (gel-based concentrates are great!) so you can get on with your day (and your makeup, if you wear any). At night time, go as rich as you can handle: this is your skin's chance to drink it all in while you sleep.
Moisturizer: IMHO, the most important part of any skincare routine. Moisturizers form a protective layer on the skin's surface to fend off the elements, and also penetrate deeply to address issues. Even folks with oilier skins should be moisturizing, otherwise the sebaceous glands kick into overdrive to create more oil.
In the morning, go for a light but hydrating formula. At night, GO BIG. Find the richest formula that works for you, since your skin's got all night to drink it up. You can even look for a balm rather than a cream.
Once/twice a week:
Exfoliate: use a gentle chemical or physical exfoliant. It'll rid you of any dry flaky bits that can potentially clog your pores. Chemical exfoliants include alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, glycolic acids. Physical exfoliants are scrubs with sugar, salt, clay, etc. Avoid anything with micro beads, please! They're crummy for the environment.
Mask: use a hydrating, soothing, or brightening mask to add moisture, reduce redness, or boost your glow. Look for masks with honey, rose, calendula, thermal water, aloe, yogurt, or even a mild exfoliant.
In a pinch, apply a heavier layer of your night time moisturizer and ka-bam, you've got an overnight sleeping mask.
top picks for winter skin
I've rounded up my favourite winter products from a whole heap of brands for all budgets. I own and adore all of these so hit me up if you have questions!
I've listed all the regular retail prices, but keep your eyes open because many of these go on sale often. In fact, about half are on sale right now and a few pop up at Winners!
Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter Makeup Remover, The Body Shop, $16
Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, Tatcha, $18- $58
Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution, Bioderma, $15.90-$23.90
Blossom & Leaf Toning Refresher, Andalou Naturals, $18.49
Breath of Fresh Air Toner Water, Lush Cosmetics, $10.95-$22.95
Mineralizing Thermal Water, Vichy, $7.95-$14
Double Serum, Clarins, $89-$120
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, Deciem, $6.80
Moisture Infusion™ 24 Hr Hydrating Serum, NeoStrata, $40
Midnight Recovery Concentrate, Kiehl's, $57-82
Hydra Floral 24hr Hydrating Rich Cream, Decléor, $59
Toleriane Ultra, La Roche Posay, $34
Ultra Facial Cream, Kiehl's, $36-$63
Sensibio AR Anti-Redness Care, Bioderma, $27.95
Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant, Éminence Organic Skin Care, $48
Vitamin C Glow Boosting Microdermabrasion Exfoliating Face Scrub, The Body Shop, $20
nordic skin peel, skyn iceland, $50
Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Masque, Kiehl's, $25-$55
Double Glow Peeling Mask, Vichy, $34
Life Plankton Essence Mask, Biotherm, $65