Whether winter for you means a brief Texas cool-down or bracing yourself for three months of snow, your skin needs change when temperature drops and humidity fluctuates. Consider these five strategies to remedy winter skin woes.
- Look for Occlusives
Occlusives are ingredients in your skincare that create a shield between skin and the environment. This helps keep the good stuff in (moisture, skincare actives) and the bad stuff out (wind, environmental aggressions). On your ingredient list look for things like shea butter, cocoa butter and beeswax. The texture is usually thick and balm-like.
When should you use occlusives? Use them overnight to stay hydrated and to boost skin recovery and dot extra anywhere with dryness like around the nose as needed.
- Boost Ceramides
Ceramides are natural oils found on the skin barrier that prevent water loss and keep skin function strong. A strong barrier will help skin stay hydrated and soothed. Look for moisturizers and facial oils with squalene, emollient oils (such as jojoba oil, grapeseed oil and sea buckthorn oil) and ceramide on the ingredient list.
- Adjust your Actives, Add Niacinamide
If your skin feels extra sensitized during the drier winter, you might want to adjust your skincare actives. While retinol, vitamin c and exfoliating acids still make for great winter skincare, if you experience redness or dryness, try reducing the frequency and instead adding niacinamide to your treatment routine.
Niacinamide, otherwise known as vitamin B3, is effective at strengthening the skin barrier and is great for reducing the look of redness, calming, and helping to minimize pores and oil production. Many people also notice a reduction in the look of dark spots.
As a skincare active, it’s quite easily incorporated into different formulas, so it can often be found in serums, moisturizers and body treatments. As little as 2% niacinamide can be effective, and you are best off to look for this ingredient in leave-on products (vs. cleansers or wipe off products) to maximize results. If the percentage isn’t listed, look for niacinamide as one of the top 8 ingredients to ensure an effective dose. More than 5% is typically unnecessary and does not make it more effective.
- Cleanse Gently
If your cleansing routine is leaving you feeling the burn (or tightness), try a gentler format. An oil to milk cleanser or cream cleanser with clean ingredients (no detergents, no irritants) will be your best friend all winter. Don’t worry as much about skincare actives that you just end up rinsing down the drain – instead choose something that gets the job done with minimal impact to your skin barrier.
- Keep Wearing Sunscreen
Sun damage is more than visual tan or sunburn. It also happens slowly, steadily over a long period of time. Sun exposure damages skin health, thins skin over time (remember the importance of the barrier!), causes unevenness that is difficult to fully reverse and is to some extent preventable with sunscreen! A mineral sunscreen will include a naturally occurring substance from the earth, sits on top of the skin and is less known for irritation than chemical sunscreens. Look for zinc oxide as the active ingredient as it is effective at protecting from both UVA and UVB.