For most of us, no one skin care routine will suit us properly throughout the entire year. So as seasons continue change and temperatures drop, consider swapping in some new products that are perfectly suited to tend to all your skin’s needs. We’re talking dry, chapped lips, redness, flakiness and itchy skin.
“Winter weather with its cold temperatures, low humidity and brisk winds, along with dry heat from heaters, can really dry out our skin,” says New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. “In low humidity environments, we lose more moisture from our skin into the air. The result is more dry skin and flares of conditions like eczema. Every winter, and particularly this winter because of the use of hand sanitizers and frequent hand washing, we see hand dermatitis. Psoriasis often flares as well.”
Looking for some guidance on how to upgrade your routine this winter to treat these issues? We spoke to two dermatologists to give you an expert’s guidance on what products to incorporate based on your skin type. Whether you’re battling acne or trying to soothe ultra-dryness, we’ve rounded up products that will deliver some serious moisture to your skin.
Winter skin care essentials
The key word for winter skin care is moisture. No matter your skin type, the idea is to deliver as much hydration to your skin as possible to offset the way the weather impacts you. “The skin barrier gets thinner during the winter and the elements are attacking the skin,” explains Dr. Michele Green, a New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist. She remarks how people don’t realize that the temperature changes even inside the home affect their skin. “If people don’t take the right precautions and there’s a lot of heat in the home, that heat is drying you out, so it’s already disturbing a layer of the skin. Then, when you switch to the freezing cold and wind outside, it’s even more damaging.”
1. Humidifier: One way to combat that dryness inside is to use a humidifier. “A humidifier in the bedroom at night, or in other rooms where you are spending a lot of time, can also be helpful. By increasing the humidity of the air in your environment, you will lose less moisture from your skin into the air,” says King.
Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier ($39.99; amazon.com)
We rated this the best humidifier for bedrooms because it makes virtually no noise and even has a night light function. The humidifier also has an automatic shut off feature when the water level is low or the tank is removed, making it an excellent addition to any room.
2. Moisturizing body washes and treatments: It may be a surprise to some that how you bathe significantly impacts the condition of your skin. Both of our experts caution against spending too much time in hot showers or baths, because that too can dry out your skin. According to King, you should take brief, lukewarm showers no more than once per day and use gentle soaps.
Dove Dryness Relief Body Wash ($23.76; amazon.com)
“I recommend using soap substitutes like Dove Beauty Bar or Dove Body Wash that are free of harsh detergents and won’t strip the skin of its natural oils,” says King. If you prefer Dove’s body wash, try out this one that includes jojoba oil formulated specifically for dryness relief. Opt for the Dove White Beauty Bar if body wash isn’t your thing, or the Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar if you want something really gentle.
Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment ($6.97; amazon.com)
To combat dry skin, Green advises avoiding showers as much as possible and opting for a bath using Aveeno’s Soothing Bath Treatment because it’s less drying. The treatment is made with oatmeal that relieves itchiness and soothes even the most irritated skin. She explains that this method will moisturize you much better than a shower can.
3. Rich body moisturizer: “Immediately after you bathe, even before your skin is dry, apply lotions and creams to lock in the moisture,” explains King. “You may need heavier ones in the winter than you do during the warmer months, and you may need to apply more.”
Now’s the time to assess if your body lotion is really doing the trick. You’ll want a super rich moisturizer, perhaps a cream formula, that’s thick enough to deliver the hydration your skin craves.
Eucerin Advanced Repair Cream ($12.12, originally $13.99; amazon.com)
Green recommends Eucerin’s Advanced Repair Cream. It’s formulated with ceramides to repair very dry skin, lock in moisture and provide immediate relief. Reviewers love it because it’s not greasy and leaves their body feeling smooth. It’s also fragrance-free, ideal for avoiding irritation on sensitive skin types.
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream ($12.88, originally $16.99; amazon.com)
The Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream is another body product that Green recommends each winter. Cetaphil is known for affordable products suited for all skin types, so it’s no surprise reviewers rave that this formula soothed their scaly, dry skin.
4. Hydrating treatments: According to King, we should avoid any potentially drying or irritating ingredients like alcohol, clay, hydroxy acids and retinoids or retinols. “Proper formulations and usage of ingredients like hydroxy acids and retinols can still be helpful, depending on your skin, but you may need to decrease the strength, amount or frequency, and combine with more moisturizers.” These types of ingredients are likely found in your favorite skin care products, so maybe give those a rest and opt for more hydrating treatments that won’t dry you out.
Loops Beauty Sunrise Service Face Mask ($30; revolve.com)
King loves the Sunrise Service mask by Loops Beauty. “It’s rich in baobab oil, pumpkin extract, flower extracts and a probiotic, designed to hydrate, moisturize, brighten, smooth, depuff and protect from free radicals,” she says. According to King, all of the Loops Beauty masks are compostable, cruelty-free and free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates and synthetic fragrances.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 ($6.80; sephora.com)
Hyaluronic acid is an important ingredient to have around in the winter because, according to King, it’s a humectant that needs to be used along with other components in your routine to retain water content. Check out this vegan, cruelty-free formula by The Ordinary that’ll deliver next-level hydration for less than $10.
Biossance Squalane + Tea Tree Balancing Oil ($49; sephora.com)
This winter, try using a face oil to seal in moisture especially overnight. We love the Biossance Squalene + Tea Tree Balancing Oil because it’s super lightweight, hydrating and leaves us with fresh, dewy skin after each use.
Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask ($27; sephora.com)
An overnight mask is another way to get some additional hydration into your routine. We’d opt for Origins’ Overnight Hydrating Mask that features avocado and Swiss glacier water to nourish and moisturize while you sleep. It’s also under $30, which is a pretty good deal compared to other top-performing overnight masks.
5. Sunscreen: We can’t stress enough the importance of wearing sunscreen. Yes, even in the winter or if you’re not going outside as much. Green advises her patients to apply a fragrance-free, light moisturizer in the morning and make sure it contains a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($15.99; target.com)
We’re obsessed with Black Girl Sunscreen because it provides sun protection that applies sheer on deeper skin tones, and was created by women of color. It’s also great for winter because it contains jojoba and avocado, two super nourishing ingredients, in a formula that doesn’t feel greasy.
Aveeno Positively Radiant Sheer Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 ($14.97, originally $16.79; amazon.com)
Aveeno’s Positively Radiant Sheer Daily Moisturizer is another one of our favorites. It’s non-comedogenic, oil-free and hypoallergenic for a lightweight formula suitable for winter protection.
6. Lip care: Don’t wait until you’re suffering from dry, cracked lips to purposefully add lip care into your routine. Grab a couple lip moisturizers to stash on your nightstand, in your bag and in your car.
Vaseline Lip Therapy Aloe Tin ($7.49; amazon.com)
Vaseline is one of our go-to brands for high-quality, gentle, yet effective lip care products, and the brand’s lip therapy tin is no different. The formula provides instant relief and moisture, while its aloe scent smells delicious.
Fresh Sugar Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 15 ($24; sephora.com)
Say goodbye to chapped lips when you start using Fresh Sugar Lip Balm. It contains sugar and a mixture of oils to soothe and soften lips. Available in 15 tints, the balm feels nourishing as soon as it glides on, and it features sun protection.
Skin care routine for oily skin
AcneFree Blackhead Removing Scrub with 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment ($7.99; amazon.com)
King recommends AcneFree’s Blackhead Removing Scrub because it contains charcoal, which helps remove excess sebum, the stuff that clogs pores and creates oiliness. “It contains salicylic acid to penetrate into pores and dissolve sebum, the gritty texture is also nice for gentle physical exfoliation and it contains jojoba oil to soothe and moisturize,” she says.
Glossier Priming Moisturizer Balance ($25; glossier.com)
Green advises switching to a water-based moisturizer during the winter months because the water will hydrate your skin without overproducing sebum. She recommends Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer Balance, a lightweight gel-cream formula that moisturizes without adding more shine to the skin.
Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb ($38; sephora.com)
One common misconception about oily skin is that one should eliminate excess moisture to prevent oiliness, but that’s the wrong interpretation. King says that “oily skin may still need moisturizers to hydrate and support the skin barrier, just make sure that the products are non-comedogenic.” She recommends avoiding pore-clogging ingredients like coconut oil and cocoa butter. We’re huge fans of this water-based moisturizer by Belif that delivers some serious hydration.
Skin care routine for dry skin
Olehenriksen Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum ($65; sephora.com)
Green recommends adding a vitamin C serum to your routine specifically if you have dry skin. Formulated to brighten the skin and defend against environmental stressors, Olehenriksen’s Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum is a great pick because it also contains hyaluronic acid, which we know to reinforce the skin’s moisture barrier.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration ($36; sephora.com)
This is an industry-favorite for simple, effective and intensive hydration. The repair cream’s formula includes colloidal oatmeal, shea butter and allantoin to relieve itching and irritation, moisturize and soothe quickly.
Cetaphil Deep Hydration Healthy Glow Daily Cream ($16.97; amazon.com)
Green recommends this daily cream, which features hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5 and vitamin E to deliver hydration in an instant, for those with dry skin.
First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser ($22; sephora.com)
Look for a creamy cleanser that avoids ingredients that will make the skin too dry or tight. We’d recommend this fragrance-free, gentle cleanser formulated with aloe, allantonin and glycerin to calm the skin, reduce flare-ups and thoroughly cleanse.
Skin care routine for combination skin
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel-Cream Face Moisturizer ($15.54, originally $18.98; amazon.com)
Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Moisturizer has over 13,500 5-star reviews for good reason: It’s a moisturizing gel-cream formula that contains hyaluronic acid to quench thirsty skin without feeling too heavy. One reviewer even calls it “miraculous.”
Cetaphil Daily Oil Free Hydrating Lotion ($11.23, originally $14.99; amazon.com)
Cetaphil’s Daily Oil Free Hydrating Lotion is Green’s recommendation to meet the needs of those with combination skin. It’s lightweight and non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores, but it contains hyaluronic acid that’ll relieve any dryness you’re experiencing.
Versed Gentle Cycle Milky Cleanser ($14.99; versedskin.com)
Versed is one of our favorite clean, drugstore skin care brands and its new Gentle Cycle Milky Cleanser is worth every penny. Containing ingredients like oat milk and marula oil, it’s lightweight yet incredibly creamy and leaves skin feeling baby soft, smooth and nourished.
Skin care routine for acne-prone skin
AcneFree’s Oil-Free AcneCleanser ($7.29; amazon.com)
“AcneFree’s Oil-Free AcneCleanser is an excellent benzoyl peroxide product, strong enough to be effective and still as gentle as possible,” says King. “It contains micro-benzoyl peroxide, which is less irritating to the skin than typical benzoyl peroxide, and it also contains hydrating ingredients such as glycerin.”
Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF 15 ($9.47, originally $11.99; amazon.com)
According to King, acne-prone skin may still need moisturizers to hydrate and support the skin barrier, but it’s very important to make sure that the products are non-comedogenic. She explains that “the use of acne-fighting ingredients like retinoids, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide make it all the more important to support the skin barrier.” Give this oil-free moisturizer by Neutrogena a chance. It won’t irritate the skin and even provides sun protection you need, especially if you’re using harsher ingredients.
Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Original ($11.98; amazon.com)
Green advises using some kind of spot treatment to address areas with flare-ups — rather than subjecting the entire face to acne-fighting ingredients. The Mighty Patch treatments are hydrocolloid pimple patches known to flatten pimples overnight.
Skin care routine for sensitive skin
Vanicream Moisturizing Cream ($12.19, originally $16.43; amazon.com)
“It’s very important to use products that moisturize with humectants, emollients and occlusives,” says King. These are ingredients that work to retain water, improve skin texture and prevent moisture loss. She recommends Vanicream because it contains all three components but likely won’t irritate even sensitive skin.
Cetaphil Redness Relief Night Moisturizer ($13.79, originally $14.99; amazon.com)
Another great moisturizer for those with sensitive skin that Green recommends is the Cetaphil Redness Relief Night Moisturizer. This fragrance-free, non-comedogenic formula works to reduce the appearance of redness and calm skin while rehydrating any dry spots.
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Foaming Facial Cleanser ($11.99; target.com)
This gentle foaming cleanser won’t disrupt the natural skin moisture barrier, which is why Green says it’s a good choice for sensitive skin. You won’t be left with super tight skin, or experience irritation triggered by oils or allergens.
Skin care routine for aging skin
CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream ($13.99; target.com)
“It’s still possible to use anti-aging ingredients, but look for ingredients like anti-aging peptides, growth factors and niacinamide that are not as likely to be irritating as things like retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs),” explains King. CeraVe’s Skin Renewing Night Cream would be a great option because it features niacinamide, peptides and ceramides to hydrate and restore the skin’s barrier overnight.
Olay Regenerist Whip ($22.99, originally $28.99; amazon.com)
Green recommends the Olay Regenerist Whip, and we’re seriously obsessed with it. Featuring key ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and amino peptides, this silky moisturizer is formulated to target wrinkles while you sleep.
Tatcha The Water Cream ($68; tatcha.com)
King advises using lighter, non-comedogenic moisturizers, like lotions and water-based gels, as opposed to thicker, creamier formulas, if you have oilier skin. We love Tatcha’s Water Cream because it goes on silky smooth, leaves skin feeling supple and more radiant. It features Japanese botanicals and nutrients to tighten pores and clarify skin.