5 Dermatologist-Approved Changes to Make to Your Winter Skincare Routine

by Christopher Ehlers

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday November 12, 2022
Originally published on November 11, 2022

It should come as no surprise that the weather has a big impact on our skin. As a result, most people should be tweaking their skincare routines as the seasons change. After all, you don't wear your winter coat in the summer, do you? And it's not just about the cold weather: the heat pumped into our cars and homes can also have a negative impact on our skin.

But what exactly should you tweak? Refinery29 recently spoke to Dr. Alia Ahmed, a consultant dermatologist and skincare expert about the five things she recommends as the temperatures drop.

Apply Your Most Hydrating Products to Damp Skin

"In winter the humidity is low," said Dr Ahmed, "so we need as much moisture as we can to protect our skin barrier." When you apply products on top of damp skin, Dr Ahmed continued, you're adding in moisture (from water) and trapping it in with your skincare. "But there's no need to be excessive with it. Keep your skincare in the bathroom and after you've showered that's the best time to apply moisturizer specifically to damp skin. The same goes for the body."

EDGE Recommends:

Jordan Samuel Skin Hydrate Mist

The best and most hydrating mist we've ever used, misting your face and body with this before moisturizing will help lock in moisture for results you'll be able to see and feel immediately. But it's so much more than just water: red seaweed pulls water into the skin while also providing antioxidant properties; cucumber extract calms, cools, and soothes the skin; and glycerin—a mighty humectant—will ensure that your skin stays soft and supple all day long. While spritzing your entire body before applying moisturizer sounds a bit extra, not only will the results turn you into a believer, but we notice that we end up using less product to get the job done. $29, jordansamuelskin.com.

Kiehl's Creme de Corps Lotion

We've never gone crazy for a body lotion until we finished our first bottle of Kiehl's iconic and beloved body lotion. Fragrance fee and incredibly moisturizing, this rich lotion will change the look and feel of the skin on your body. When paired with their heaven-sent body oil, the results are unfathomably good, and we're never without either. $14-$86, kiehls.com.

Ditch Fragrance from Your Skincare

For a select few, especially those with sensitive or reactive skin, fragrance or nice-smelling essential oils in skincare can be aggravating. If you usually tolerate fragranced skincare products in the winter, that's fine, said Dr Ahmed. But it could be a different story for others. "People tend to be more sensitive and more likely to experience irritation around this time," explained Dr Ahmed, "and even a fragrance in a cleanser — something you wash off — can cause irritation." For that reason, you might want to stick to what dermatologists refer to as 'bland' skincare: simple products that are fragrance-free.

EDGE Recommends:

Revision Skincare Gentle Foaming Cleanser

Revision Skincare is always a sure bet, and this gentle foaming cleanser is a great introduction to the brand. Soap-free and filled with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, and allatoin, it's a perfect sensitive skin cleanser for the winter months. $44-$96, lovelyskin.com.

Alastin Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer

Hydrating, nourishing, and soothing, this medical-grade moisturizer provides intense nourishment and is completely free of fragrance. We love this for its inclusion of TriHex Technology, an Alastin exclusive, that works with the skin to help clear out damaged elastin and collagen while supporting the skin's natural ability to produce new, healthy elastin and collagen. $72, alastin.com.

Try the 'Skin Flooding' Technique

TikTok's skinfluencers love a layering technique and ahead of the cold weather, some are turning to serums that contain two ingredients in particular: polyglutamic acid (which draws moisture into the skin, making it hydrated and plump) and niacinamide (otherwise known as vitamin B3, which improves skin hydration). Then they're following that wave of hydration with moisturiser or sunscreen. Refinery 29 coined it 'skin flooding'.

"This is actually quite a good idea," confirmed Dr Ahmed, especially if your skin really feels the effects of the cold. "The layering technique is helpful," she added, "as it's a good way to add moisture to your skin without occluding it with heavy moisturisers," which can potentially clog skin. "Niacinamide in particular is helpful for the skin barrier because in winter your skin barrier gets disrupted anyway. What I would suggest, however, is leaving a little time between application so that everything is absorbed properly."

EDGE Recommends:

Dermalogica Circular Hydration Serum

This unique serum hydrates fast while enhancing your skin's moisture barrier with algae extract, and polyglutamic acid—from fermented soy—helps to replenish skin's hydration reserves from within. $59, lovelyskin.com.

Allies of Skin Prebiotics & Niacinamide Pore Refining Booster

While niacinamide is a hero ingredient when it comes to hydration, it also greatly aids in refining the pores, which is exactly why this Allies of Skin serum is a slam dunk. In addition to niacinamide, it also protects the skin with CoQ10, promotes radiance with chlorella, and energizes the skin for a renewed glow. $73, lovelyskin.com.

Avoid Over-Moisturizing

If you're getting dry skin, it can be tempting to pile on a skin-cocooning moisturizer. You might even reapply it throughout the day. But Dr Ahmed hinted that overdoing it could result in more harm than good, especially if it contains pore-clogging ingredients like paraffin oil, petrolatum, lanolin and mineral oils. "Dry skin might not solely be because it's cold outside or too hot inside your house," she said. "It could be because of inflammation on the skin. A lot of people over-moisturize and make the problem worse, resulting in flaky, scaly skin." The solution is layering, as above. "Layering is so much better," said Dr Ahmed. You're giving your skin a chance to absorb thin layers, rather than bombarding it with something thick and cloying.

Avoid these Cleansing Mistakes

Foaming cleansers are great, particularly for oily and acne-prone skin, but some experts denounce them as drying in the winter months. If you're using one and it works for you, that's great. Dr Ahmed said not to throw it away. But for dry skin, she prefers a creamier cleanser in the winter. It pays to use it effectively.
"Most people don't use cleansers the way they're supposed to," said Dr Ahmed. "Many of us don't rub it in enough and so they don't feel the benefits." Try for at least a minute. Another mistake is not washing it off properly. "You should do 10 to 12 good splashes of water to remove it all," she added. "That's super important."

EDGE Recommends:

iS Clinical Cream Cleanser

If the brand's iconic Cleansing Complex is regularly touted as the greatest cleanser on the market, then its sister product—this hydrating cream cleanser—ought to be taken seriously as well. A winter shower staple for EDGE, this moisturizing cleanser can either be wiped off or rinsed off, and contains ingredients that thoroughly cleanse the skin while fortifying its natural barrier function. $48, lovelyskin.com.