- Winter can be a drying time for any skin type.
- Wash with warm —not hot — water and apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp to lock in hydration.
- Different skin types may opt for gel vs. ointment, but hyaluronic acids and ceramides are essential for all.
Moisturizer is an essential part of any skincare routine year round, dermatologist Ife Rodney told Insider.
But the cold, dry winter air only makes your skin more likely to get dehydrated, so applying creams and lotion is especially vital when the temperature drops.
For people with inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, the change of seasons can also trigger flare-ups.
Whether your skin is red and flaky or just drier than usual, here are a few simple ways to update your daily skincare routine for winter.
Wash your face with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser
Even if you’re one to wash your face with water and bar soap, half of that equation could be drying out your skin.
Although it may be tempting to warm up in the hot water, the high temperature can break down your skin’s natural protective barrier. Rodney recommended using lukewarm water in the shower and especially when washing your face.
As for products, Rodney recommends sticking with a gentle cleanser to remove any dirt on the skin. Anything harsher, like a toner or other alcohol-based products, can strip the skin of its natural oils and cause dryness.
Apply moisturizer when your skin is still damp
To prevent skin from drying out post-shower, dermatologist Marisa Garshick suggested applying a thick layer of moisturizer after gently patting the skin dry. This helps to seal moisture into the skin.
Rodney also said she likes to apply moisturizer when her skin is still damp.
“It totally melts in,” she said. “You’ll see that the moisturizer is just so much more effective and your skin just feels softer and more nourished.”
Choose a water-based moisturizer if you’re worried about acne
Even people with oily skin may suffer from winter dryness. Overdrying due to winter air or harsh acne products can trigger the skin to produce even more oil, feeding the cycle of breakouts.
“I’ve found that by consistently moisturizing the skin, you can also get fewer flares and less severe flares of your acne,” Rodney said. “It can really help to prevent not just drying, but the overproduction of oil that sometimes occurs when our skin is dry.”
The key to moisturizing for acne-prone skin is to choose a water-based gel or cream, Rodney said. While most oil-based products sit on the skin’s surface and can potentially block your pores, a water-based moisturizer will “melt into the skin” without leaving it shiny.
People with naturally dry skin may tolerate a heavier ointment or cream, Garshick said. Dr. Muneeb Shah, another dermatologist, previously told Insider he recommends “slugging” with thin layer of Vaseline to heal dry or cracked skin.
Look for ingredients to draw and lock in moisture
No matter your skin type, you should look for hyaluronic acid and ceramides when choosing a moisturizing product. Hyaluronic acid will draw in a ton of moisture, and ceramides help to lock it into the skin.
Moisturizing with ceramides is especially important for people with darker skin because they have lower levels of the skin’s natural glue. Ceramides restore that protective barrier and help the skin retain other essential ingredients, so people of color may find themselves more prone to dryness.
Dryness on dark skin also appears white or ashy instead of red, and the light patches can take longer to heal, Rodney said.
Don’t be shy about reapplying
After applying moisturizer in the morning, Rodney said to “listen to your skin” and reapply as needed.
People require different levels of hydration, so it doesn’t make sense to set out with a specific plan to moisturize five times a day if your skin isn’t asking for it. Flakiness, redness, and other changes in color may signal that your skin is thirsty.
“Regardless of your skin type — whether it’s dry, normal, combination skin, or your skin color — everyone just needs to practice these gentle skincare habits and incorporate a good moisturizer into their daily routine,” Rodney said.