25 Expert-Backed Tricks for Glowing Skin in the Dead of Winter
These winter skin hacks from the pros will have you looking radiant all season long.
Sunsets after 8 p.m. and those summer beach days may be long gone, but that doesn't mean your glowing skin has to go with them. To combat the harsh winter weather, your skincare routine needs to change with the season. And to help you keep your skin radiant, nourished, and totally smooth, we consulted dermatologists, makeup artists, and other skincare experts for their best tips and tricks. Read on to find out how you can have your best winter skin ever this year.
Set up a humidifier.
This winter, make sure you maintain the moisture in your home—and in your skin—by investing in a humidifier. “Dry heat can disrupt the skin barrier while you sleep. Consider a humidifier in your bedroom to help put moisture back into the air," says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. He prefers cool mist humidifiers over hot steam ones, since the latter "can burn you if you get too close."
Look for a moisturizer with lactic acid.
“If you live in a dry or cooler climate, you should be looking for products that actually have the right kind of moisturizer within them," says dermatologist Todd Minars, MD. He recommends the AmLactin brand, which contains the nourishing ingredient lactic acid.
"Most moisturizers act as a sort of greasy barrier that attempts to lock in moisture. Lactic acid acts instead as a humectant, which draws water into the skin," Minars explains. "This is beneficial because many of those who suffer from dry skin have flare-ups in the affected regions due to this transepidermal water loss."
Emollients—moisturizers that smooth and soften the skin—are your winter skin's biggest ally. “Your skincare products should be more emollient in the winter and lighter in the summer in order to compensate for the effects of seasonal weather changes," says Elina Fedotova, celebrity esthetician and owner of Elina Organics Spas and Skincare. "In the Northern states where winter can be harsh, our skin is at a higher risk of becoming over-dried from intense winds outside and dry heat indoors. The blood vessels in your face and hands also become fragile from drastic temperature changes." Some of her favorite moisturizing ingredients include shea butter, castor oil, and avocado oil.
Practice the "two-minute rule" when moisturizing.
Once you find the right moisturizer, be sure to use it while following the "two-minute rule." “The 'two-minute rule' suggests applying your moisturizing lotion within two minutes of leaving the shower or bath each time you bathe," Minars explains. "This approach locks in the moisture before it has a chance to evaporate off your skin, which is the biggest reason patients get so frustrated in the winter."
Change up the rest of your skincare products, too.
Your moisturizer isn't the only thing in your medicine cabinet you need to reexamine. You should alternate all of your skincare products often, especially in the winter. “Your skin can become acclimated to a particular formula, and you will start becoming immune to it. In other words, you will notice the effectiveness of the product less and less," explains Fedotova. "To avoid this problem, you sometimes need to change your skin routine."
Use a hydration spray.
“Use any type of hydration spray or moisture mist to replenish the hydration in the skin," suggests makeup artist and skincare professional Leah Chavie. Bonus: Hydrating sprays can also help manage other winter beauty woes, like static and flyaway hairs.
We know how tempting a piping hot shower can be after a long day in the cold. Unfortunately, though, Fedotova warns that long, hot showers can "lead to over-drying your skin, especially in the winter." She also says that you should avoid soap and instead use a gentler "oil-based sugar or sea salt scrub."
Incorporate skin-polishing services into your routine.
'Tis the season to splurge on skincare treatments. “The winter season is the perfect time to say goodbye to freckles and hyperpigmentation, little wrinkles, and anything related to sun damage,” says Fedotova. "We can actively start requesting services that use natural acid and enzyme peels, microdermabrasion, and other skin-polishing procedures."
Try herbal, protein-rich facials.
In the winter, Fedotova suggests "doing facials that contain masks with a high concentration of proteins and phospholipids to support the skin's protective barrier. Facials with the use of honey and natural fruit acids will brighten, hydrate, and heal the skin after being windburned."
According to Fedotova, you should also "take advantage of herbal facials with organic botanicals, warm compresses, and skin-nourishing masks made with whole plant ingredients."
Wear an overnight moisturizing mask.
Don’t be scared of waxes.
Your winter skin could benefit from some wax. “Plant and animal-based ingredients, including beeswax and other natural waxes, help to create a protective film over the skin, which helps prevent transdermal water loss and seals moisture in,” Fedotova explains.
And don't shy away from exfoliating.
The amount of exfoliation your skin requires depends on your skin type. However, everyone needs to do at least some exfoliating to get a good glow. “The process of gently scrubbing across your skin enhances circulation, promotes lymphatic drainage, and clinically cleanses, which is essential to skin health,” explains Cristin Smith, founder of Saffron & Sage Skincare.
Give gua sha a shot.
Although the benefits of gua sha can be traced back to ancient China, the treatment—which involves scraping your skin with a massage tool, often made of natural stone—has only recently surged in popularity stateside.
So how does it work? “Gently scrape the gemstone tool across your neck and face to promote lymphatic drainage, decrease discoloration from sun damage and acne scarring, detox and depuff the face, and calm the nervous system,” explains Smith. "This practice can also combat colds that attack the neck region."
Avoid overusing hyaluronic acid.
While hyaluronic acid can be extremely useful—especially during the winter months—nutritionist and skincare expert Ann Ramark cautions users not to overdo it. “Hyaluronic acid is a great and powerful humectant, and we have it in our skin naturally. But applying topical hyaluronic acid in creams and serum can do more harm than good if the climate is dry,” she explains. "If there is no moisture in the air, the hyaluronic acid molecules will instead pull water from your deeper skin layers, causing your skin to lose volume and plumpness."
Add jojoba or avocado oil to your moisturizing routine.
Dermatologist Debbie Palmer, author of Mindful Beauty, suggests “adding jojoba oil—rich in vitamin E, zinc, and selenium—to your moisturizing routine. It’s safe, even for acne-prone or sensitive skin.”
Palmer also recommends “applying avocado oil to the face as a weekly mask." "It’s rich in vitamins A, B, and E and a super hydrating humectant," she says.
Use grape seed oil on your skin.
Grape seed oil is the ultimate winter skincare product. It's known to fight dull winter skin and brittle, damaged hair. “It’s safe to apply directly to the skin and hair or add to your daily moisturizer. It renders the skin smooth, silky, and soft," says esthetician Leah Simon Clarke. "Because grape seed oil is a good source of vitamin E, it helps protect against free radical damage and also makes for a great conditioning treatment for dry or brittle hair."
Use a damp, clean face cloth to remove your cleanser.
When wiping away your moisturizer, make sure to use a moist cloth. “Doing this gently helps to exfoliate dead skin cells each day,” says Ebony Ilsley, skincare expert and founder of Real-U Skincare.
Don’t forget sunscreen.
Just because we have forgotten about the sun doesn't mean it has forgotten about us. “Sun protection is key year-round," especially in the wintertime, says facial plastic surgeon Inessa Fishman, MD. The sun's rays are just as strong in the winter, so wearing sunscreen can help prevent any short- or long-term damage.
Create a moisturizing regimen for your lips.
We've talked a lot about hydrating your face, but don't forget about your lips, too! To avoid painful, chapped lips, makeup artist Mary Winkenwerder suggests following a consistent regimen. “Apply your most effective lip moisturizer before bedtime. This product should be applied around the lip area, on the lip line, and directly on the lips," she says. In the morning, you should also "apply a thin veil and allow the product to set for about 10 minutes."
Avoid licking your lips.
In the winter, it can be tempting to coat your lips with a quick seal of moisture from your mouth. However, doing so ultimately does more harm than good. “Saliva contains enzymes that will break down the fragile skin on your lips,” explains Ilsley.
Don't use powdered makeup.
Put your powdered products on summer layaway. "If you want a dewy look, stay away from using any powders on the skin," says celebrity makeup artist Angela Calisti. "Use cream-based formulas instead. If you are oily, try a tinted moisturizer to even out your complexion while still hydrating the skin."
Create a special skincare routine when traveling to a different climate.
When you're lucky enough to escape the cold weather, make sure you take care of your skin while doing so. “If you are flying in the middle of winter from Michigan to Florida for vacation, stop using your heavy day cream because you may experience oily shine and even a few breakouts,” says Fedotova. "If you have a normal to oily-prone complexion, when in warm climates with high humidity, your skin may do the best with the use of only treatment serums and sunscreen."
Get enough sleep.
There's a reason why it's called "beauty sleep." "By getting enough sleep, you will ensure you have good circulation, which is critical for glowing skin,” says Ramark. "Besides hindering circulation, a lack of sleep will also decrease your own production of hyaluronic acid, making your skin dull and limp."
Drink plenty of water.
Skincare products aside, to achieve hydrated skin, you must first hydrate your body. “Focus on water, tea, and coconut water. Your health, especially during the winter season, starts on the inside. I recommend setting a goal to drink half your body weight in ounces daily,” says Smith.
And eat your fruits and vegetables.
We know eating fruits and vegetables is an evergreen rule for maintaining good health, but it actually helps improve your skin as well. “By eating plenty of fruits and vegetables you will get many nutrients that are important for skin glow, such as vitamin C and carotenoids,” says Ramark. Carotenoid-rich foods are generally red, yellow, or orange, so stock up on carrots and cantaloupe. "Carotenoids will increase the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen, giving you healthier and younger-looking skin," she explains.
Additional reporting by Brianna Holt