A solid skincare routine is important year-round, but in no season is it quite as vital as in the winter. The fact of the matter is that even the most properly maintained skin is susceptible to deep dryness when it’s cold out, which is why it’s so important to find a good moisturizer for dry skin and use it like it’s your job. But having a quality lotion in the rotation is only a small part of what you should be doing to ensure that your complexion looks healthy and hydrated all winter long. In this guide, we’re covering a few winter skin hacks to keep even the most moisture-deprived skin properly quenched.
What Happens to Skin in the Winter
But first, let’s cover why skin gets so out of whack in the winter to begin with. We all know that when temps dip low our skin gets dry, red, irritated, itchy and painful. For the most part, we can blame these symptoms on the dryness of the environment. The lack of humidity from the heating systems in our houses and cars — coupled with dry, windy air outside — leaves skin feeling brittle and cranky. This happens because the skin cells shrink, destroying the hydrating protein filaggrin and breaking down the protective layer that naturally shields skin from dehydrating air and environmental damage.
The Best Winter Skin Hacks for Hydrated Skin
So with the why in mind, we have to come up with a solution that addresses the problem. Here are some of the best and simplest ways to keep skin hydrated all winter long. The best part is, none of these tips require you to drastically change your lifestyle or commit to an intensive regimen.
- Hydrate While You Wash — You don’t get hydration just from your face cream. Wash your face with a hydrating face wash, preferably one with hyaluronic acid (HA). Though it sounds harsh, this acid is surprisingly gentle and does an incredible job of attracting and holding in water. In fact, hyaluronic acid can hold 1,000 times its own weight in water and has the ability to gather moisture up from all around it, so it brings deep hydration during the months you need it the most.
- Follow Up with a Good Moisturizer — High-quality face cream and body lotion are still the MVPs of your winter skincare routine, and you need to use them every single day at least once. For your face, choose a cream that’s suitable to your skin type. For example, try a gel moisturizer for oily skin if you still tend to get oily patches, even in the dead of winter. Remember to choose moisturizers that jive with your lifestyle so you’re more likely to use them. For example, if you wear makeup and tend to get ready straight out of the shower, choose a fast-absorbing moisturizer that’s easy to use beneath foundation.
- Don’t Skip Exfoliation — Exfoliating is your only-in-moderation skincare secret, and you definitely don’t want to overdo it, especially in the winter when your skin is already irritated and grumpy. With that being said, your complexion still needs a fresh start once a week or so during the chilly winter months. Incorporate a gentle face scrub into your routine and use an activated charcoal mask peel to gently get rid of that stubborn top layer of skin that’s deprived of hydration and life.
- Ditch the Hot Water — Did you know that regularly washing with hot water actually worsens dry skin because it strips away the essential protective lipid layer, leaving skin exposed to dry air, environmental toxins and damaging sun rays? Indeed, routinely taking hot showers or spending too much time in the hot tub can zap skin of hydration and leave it feeling super irritated. Dial down the water temp as you shower and rinse your face with cold water to help close the pores and prevent damage to that essential lipid barrier.
- Sleep with the Humidifier Turned — If bone-dry air is to blame for winter skin woes, pump up the humidity! Seriously, sleeping with a humidifier in your bedroom is an excellent way to reintroduce some moisture into the air and, in turn, your skin. The best part about it is that — besides occasionally refilling the unit with distilled or demineralized water — this requires literally zero work yet is an extremely effective way to nourish your skin while you sleep.
- Use a Silk Pillowcase — Using a softer pillowcase is another simple do-nothing way to boost your skin! You’ve probably heard of people snoozing on silk or satin to help preserve the texture and hydration levels of their hair, and the same hack works with skin. Silk is a softer, less irritating material that helps reduce friction and won’t suck up moisture as quickly as cotton. Rougher fabrics can lead to dryness while also exacerbating acne and breakouts.
- Drink Plenty of Water — We all know that being dehydrated takes a massive toll on virtually every aspect of our health, so it’s no surprise that it also contributes to the beauty and well-being of our skin. The body’s largest organ needs hydration just as much as the rest of them do, so make sure you get your recommended daily amount and then some. If you struggle to guzzle when it’s cold out, try to get plenty of fluids through comforting liquids like soup, tea and other hot drinks.
If you thought dry, cranky skin was inevitable in the winter, you haven’t yet found these amazing skincare hacks. Following these easy tips will not only help restore moisture to dryness, but it will also help you protect the skin’s moisture-building abilities so it better regulates itself as the temps get more and more frigid. Sticking to a solid routine can help ensure that you maintain a healthy, well-hydrated complexion year-round.