The combination of dry indoor air and frigid temperatures outside can do a number on your complexion. We asked Leala McInerney, an educator and skin therapist at The International Dermal Institute, to walk us through the ultimate winter skincare routine.
Step 1: Switch to a cream cleanser
Gel and foaming cleansers are designed to strip away oils. While this might be ideal during the heat of summer, it can completely dry out your skin this time of year. If you wash your face in the shower, stick to tepid (not hot) water, to prevent further irritation. “A hot shower feels really good on a cold morning, but it’s hard on our skin,” says McInerney.
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Step 2: Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate
Gentle exfoliation with a scrub or cleanser will buff away flakes (which are a buildup of dead skin cells) and encourage new, healthy skin cells (which are primed with moisture) to come to the surface. Choose products containing silica or microbeads, instead of ground shells or nuts, which can be rougher and cause tiny tears in the surface layer of the skin. Exfoliate with light pressure twice weekly, in the morning or before bed, then gently pat your face dry with a soft towel.
Step 3: Slather on a serum
While your skin is still damp, apply a nourishing serum. Winter’s dry air means we need an extra layer of moisture, which a serum can provide. Look for one containing hyaluronic acid to seal in hydration and create dewy-looking skin. Apply it all over your face, or zero in on extra-dry spots, then layer your moisturizer overtop.
Step 4: Upgrade your moisturizer
Using richer creams will do a better job of keeping your skin from getting parched. “Think of a richer moisturizer as an extra layer of protection — like a warm sweater on a cold day,” she says. A cream containing avocado, evening primrose or barrage seed oil will provide added nourishment.
Step 5: Wear SPF every day
Ultra-violet rays take their toll during the winter months, too. Don’t think you spend enough time outdoors to warrant sunscreen? Sitting in a sunny window at the office, driving, and even the cumulative time spent walking to and from your car adds up. Then factor in an afternoon on the ski slopes and you’ll really notice the effects of the sun on even the chilliest day. Opt for a daytime moisturizer that contains at least SPF 20 to shield your complexion from sun damage. Increase your protection by also choosing makeup products, like primer and foundation, that contain SPF.
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Step 6: Protect your pout
“Buff away flakes by rubbing your facial exfoliator over your lips, too,” says McInerney. Whether you’re using a cleanser, scrub or powder exfoliator, just add a little more of the product to your palm before going over your lips. Then seal in moisture with a lip balm containing shea or cocoa butter.
This article appeared in our November 2013 issue with the headline “Don’t flake out,” p. 48.