Winter brings so many fun things: delicious hot drinks, glowing string lights, and cozy sweaters. But the colder temperature can take a toll on your complexion. Here’s everything you need to know about winter skincare, according to a dermatologist.
A summer glow is as effortless as they come. Blame it on the sun’s happy vitamins, the refreshing ocean water, or the glistening sweat: Dewy, summer skin is the thing of dreams. But in the middle of the colder season, it can seem that your dry, dehydrated winter skin is still months away from that carefree glow. As the temperature drops and the sun becomes less visible, you may be wondering how to get healthy and glowing skin in the winter. Here’s the good news: It’s possible with the proper winter skincare routine and products.
Why You Need a Winter Skincare Routine
Harsh winter weather takes a toll on your skin. Less moisture in the air tends to irritate your complexion, as water evaporates much quicker from our skin, causing dryness, sensitivity, and flaking. Plus, a cold climate prevents blood circulation to the outer layers of our skin, causing sebum production to slow down (an important part of the lipid shield that keeps skin healthy).
But it’s not just the colder temperatures outside that cause skin issues. “Our skin tends to become dry during the winter months mostly due to the dry indoor heat,” explains Loren Franco, MD, FAAD, of Dermatology Specialists of Monmouth County, New Jersey. “Dry skin lacks moisture, which translates into slightly wrinkled, rough, flaky, or red skin.”
Can You Still Get Glowing Skin in the Winter?
Don’t get discouraged though, there’s still room to glow! Even on cold winter days, catching a glimpse of sunlight and a breath of fresh outdoor air can help improve your mood, giving you that lit-from-within glow. Contrary to our beliefs, “Vitamin D we get from sun exposure has no major impact on the skin’s appearance,” shares Dr. Franco. “Glowing skin comes predominantly from a healthy skin barrier in combination with regular sun protection.” So focus on using hydrating products, caring for your digestion through your diet, and staying active to keep blood flowing. (Don’t forget that SPF either!) There’s plenty of time in these long winter months to incorporate these winter skincare tips, so start small. Within days, your dull, dry, patchy skin will shed to reveal the glowing skin of your dreams.
How to Get Healthy and Glowing Skin in the Winter
Wondering how to glow in the winter? Here are 10 expert tips to combat itchy, dry skin in the winter. Plus, winter essentials for your skincare routine.
1. Minimize Excess Heat
It may be tempting to crank the temperature up for your showers, but all that heat can dry out your complexion. “The first thing I tell patients is to avoid long, hot, steamy showers and baths. Keep showers to a maximum of 5 minutes and definitely only shower once daily,” Dr. Franco explains. “While a temporary relief from the frigid weather, the hot water actually melts the natural oils off the skin—disrupting our skin barrier and leading to dry, lackluster skin.” Use warm water instead to help maintain your skin’s health. Add in some of that lost moisture post-shower with a humidifier in your home. It’ll restore moisture to the air, helping to keep your skin hydrated, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
2. Exfoliate on the Regular
The first step to getting hydrated skin is to get rid of the dead layer on top by exfoliating. This allows products to absorb more effectively (and prevents your dehydrated skin cells from building up, which can cause breakouts and dullness). Invest in a facial scrub or a chemical exfoliant (bonus if it also contains hydrating ingredients to help soothe your skin). As for the body, dry brushing boosts circulation, stimulates the lymphatic system, and supports detoxification. Before bathing, move the brush in circular motions going in the direction towards your heart. Start at your ankle and move your way up. Keep a firm pressure on the brush to reveal smoother, more vibrant skin as layers of dry skin that clog and decongest skin are sloughed away. Word to the wise: Don’t go overboard with your exfoliation. Doing so can disrupt your skin’s barrier, causing irritation, dryness, and breakouts. Once or twice a week is enough to keep your skin bright and hydrated throughout the wintertime.
3. Let Your Skin Soak It All In
Wondering how to take care of dry skin in the winter? Learning when to moisturize will change your entire winter skincare game. The key is to apply your lotion or cream before toweling off. “Applying moisturizer to damp skin helps lock in the moisture your skin absorbs while showering,” shares Dr. Franco. Apply a rich body cream two minutes after you shower for a full-body moisturizing moment that’ll quench thirsty skin with exotic tropical mineral oils.
The same goes for your face: After washing your face, layer a hyaluronic-based serum, “Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000x its weight in water but has no effect on dry skin because it will just sit on top,” shares Dr. Franco. That’s why it’s so important to apply the serum while your skin is still somewhat wet. The hyaluronic acid will pull the extra moisture into your skin, resulting in a glowing complexion. Once the serum has sunk in, top it off with a layer of moisturizer for extra hydration.
4. Layer Overnight Hydration Masks
Getting ready for bed during the winter means layers on layers: socks, sweatshirts, sweatpants, blankets. Layering an overnight mask on top of your winter skincare routine can help your skin in the same way. Designed to help ingredients penetrate more deeply as you sleep, an overnight mask works to both shield the skin and give it time to repair itself. Look for an overnight beauty treatment packed with hydrating ingredients, like fruit-derived oils and hyaluronic acid—they’ll restore the skin’s natural balance overnight, leaving it nourished, replenished and luminous.
5. Get Your Sweat On
Let’s face it: It’s harder to get up and get moving when the temperature drops and the days get shorter. But exercising during the winter benefits your skin. Whether your body craves a cardio dance class or a brisk outdoor walk, try to get your heartbeat up. This will get your blood circulating, leading to a natural, healthy glow that lasts. If you really want to crank up the heat, try hot yoga or spend 30 minutes in a dry sauna. Don’t want to commute to the gym? Use a sauna blanket from your own bedroom to increase the body’s thermal energy and blood flow, get a workout-esque sweat, and enjoy a euphoric experience.
6. Fake the Sunshine
If you’ve been hibernating indoors during the winter (you’re not alone), you might be aching for a little bit of a summertime glow. Invest in a little sunshine in a bottle (read: liquid bronzer). While there are plenty of options on the market, we recommend picking up a product packed with hydrating ingredients. The D-Bronzi™ Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops ($36), for example, lend a subtle bronzing effect to anywhere that needs a touch of enhancement. Omega-rich virgin marula oil, black currant seed oils, and vitamin F immediately replenish the delicate balance that supports a healthy skin barrier.
7. Eat Foods That Help You Glow From Within
It’s important to care for the skin from the inside out, but it can be tough to stick with healthy, fresh foods during the winter months when your body is craving comfort foods. “Look for collagen-containing foods such as bone broth and collagen powder, as they can help strengthen our skin, keeping it hydrated and elastic,” shares Sarah Kassin, RD. “Our bodies produce less collagen with age, which can lead to dry and wrinkly skin.” You can also add a collagen supplement (like HUM Nutrition’s Collagen Love) to your diet to boost your skin’s appearance.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or just want to aid your body’s natural production of collagen, choose foods high in vitamin C and antioxidants. They can keep skin luminous and aid in skin healing. Stick to bright citrus fruits, leafy greens, and a rainbow of peppers.
8. Supplement Correctly
If there was ever a time to give your skin an extra boost, it’s the winter. Luckily, there are several vitamins for glowing skin you can take. HUM’s Glow Sweet Glow vegan gummies contain both hyaluronic acid and vitamin C to boost skin moisture from the inside out and support collagen production. For added hydration, HUM’s Red Carpet contains nourishing plant-based fatty acids and vitamin E.
Believe it or not, digestion is also a key factor in glowing, radiant skin, as your gut has to function optimally, in order to
. absorb the vital nutrients your skin needs to thrive, explains Kassin. HUM’s Gut Instinct contains 10 strains for a balanced gut microbiome. Think of these supplements as a little glow-to-go.
9. Layer on the SPF
Despite the cold, gray weather, sunscreen is an absolute must in the winter. Even though we see fewer UVB rays during the colder months, it’s the UVA rays that penetrate deeper into the skin and cause aging (and UVA rays can penetrate through that cloudy, snowy weather). To protect your skin, pick up a mineral-based, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of 30 SPF. Psst: It’s still important to apply sunscreen on days you don’t spend much time outside, as it also protects against HEV blue light, which is emitted through our smartphones and other devices. Research shows that exposure to this blue light can dull skin over time, contribute to brown spots on the skin, and lead to hyperpigmentation such as melasma.
10. Make Your Winter Skincare All-Encompassing
While it’s important to focus on the skin on your face, there are other areas that could use some extra attention in the winter. Hair, for example, can use some loving shine as well. A hair oil repairs your hair and replenishes its moisture levels while adding extreme shine. Since hands get washed, rewashed, and sanitized often, give them some love with a deeply hydrating hand cream that forms a glove-like protective barrier (reapply often!). Lastly, don’t forget your lips. Swipe on a milky lip balm to keep them smooth and soft. If you really want to glow, use one with a little bit of sparkle.