Winter is coming.

Photo credit: Jeff Bark

7 easy steps to get your skin ready for winter.

There’s a nip in the air. The leaves are turning hues of orange. The jackets make their yearly debut. Hot chocolate is the flavor of the season. Winter is coming…

And though you may love the cool crisp winter air against your skin, your skin doesn’t love it. Winter dries your skin (I can see the oily skin folks smiling cheerfully!), but even the oiliest of skin can get dehydrated during the cold months. And when skin is dry, it automatically gets more sensitive and irritated. Think about it, so do you when you get thirsty.

I’ve been on enough ski trips to write a thesis on parched and burnt skin, and I’m normally one of the most oily-skinned people there are. So I’ve put together some tried and tested ways to insulate your skin for winter – whether it’s a mild-all-you-need-is-a-light-sweater kind of winter or a harsh-I-think-my-nose-is-going-to-fall-off type.

Just remember to start early, before winter actually sets in to get that elusive ‘winter glow’.

1. Change your regimen – but only a little.

Corinne Day

You don’t need an entire overhaul of your skin care products. Just minor tweaks.

  1. Cleanser: If you are using a gel-based cleanser during summer, switch to a non-drying foam cleanser instead that wont strip your skin of its natural oils.
  2. Serum and/or Face Oil: Add an extra serum into your regimen. Yes, you can layer on 2-3 serums at the same time, depending on your skin’s needs. So you can start with a brightening serum followed by an anti-aging serum. You can even use a face oil instead of a serum. Face oils are natural and can be used even by those with acne and oily skin. All you need to do is rub 2-3 drops between your palms and pat onto your skin (just like a serum). It’s greasy to begin with but gets entirely absorbed, leaving your skin brighter and more plumped. I personally like Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. Take a look at my review to know more about it.
  3. Moisturizer: In summer you wear shorts, in winter you wear stockings. The same applies to your skin. The biggest mistake people make is using their summer moisturizer in winter. Move from a light one to a creamier one. It does not have to be greasy – just more hydrating. When you think about moisturizers for winter, suddenly old school greasy moisturizers that have ‘break-out’ written all over them come to mind. Forget those! Today, moisturizers quench your skin’s thirst without leaving you all sticky and greasy. My favourite ingredient is hyaluronic acid. It’s not actually an acid – it’s a molecule that works like a sponge on top of your face to draw water from the environment. So your skin is super hydrated all day long without any oiliness. In fact, it’s great even for oily skin. So slap on that moisturizer already!

2. Snowflakes are cool, skin flakes are not!

Photo credit: Sophie Delaporte

Slathering on a heavy-duty moisturizer won’t work unless you’ve gotten rid of the dead skin on top. So exfoliate either with a facial scrub or brush or with a chemical exfoliate, like glycolic acid or lactic acid – which are enzymes that gently melt away that layer of dead skin. In the winter, I prefer lactic acid because it comes from milk and actually binds water, so as you’re exfoliating, you’re not drying out your skin.

3. Layer. Layer. Layer.

Photo credit: Camilla Akrans

Layer not just your clothes, but also your skin care products. You want your skin to be moist and super hydrated to fight that drying winter chill. So layer one moisturizing product over another – follow a softening toner with a hydrating essence topped by a restorative serum and finally a nourishing moisturizer. Your skin is now ready to step out!

4. The sun is still your enemy.

Photo credit: Camilla Akrans

In winter, we all want to bask in the sun. It feels oh-so-good! But don’t forget, it is still as damaging as ever. Even if it’s all cloudy and grey, there’s no escaping the sun – UV rays are invisible, so screen up. If you’re headed to the snow capped mountains, apply the maximum SPF you can find (and make sure it’s water resistant too). That’s because you are closer to the sun so the damage is more, plus sunlight bounces off snow that acts as a natural reflector, increasing burns and tans.

5. Do some lip service.

Photo credit: Alan Gelati

You know winter is setting in the minute you feel your lips beginning to chap. Stop the chapping in its tracks by gently brushing your lips with the toothbrush each time you brush your teeth. Then using your middle finger (medium pressure), massage in a soothing and nourishing lip balm. This not only helps the product penetrate better, it also improves blood circulation, giving you redder, bee-stung lips. And who doesn’t like those?!

Stuff I swear by: Rosebud Salve is my lip savior. It works in the harshest of winters and the hottest of summers. It not at all sticky, but extremely nourishing. I even rub some of it on my elbows and cuticles to stop the chaffing. Oh, and it comes in a number of delicious flavours – I’m addicted to Brambleberry Rose and Mocha Rose.

6. Keep your hands and feet intact.

Photo credit: Graeme Montgomery

Winter has a sneaky way of drying your hands and feet overnight.
So stay on top by exfoliating your hands and feet everyday (or night). I like to use a foot scrub on my hands, elbows and feet while I’m in the shower. I also keep a pumice stone handy to slough off any excess dead skin on my feet. As soon as I step out of the shower, I immediately slather on a thick foot cream and put on a pair of socks. The best part is that my hands get softened automatically while applying the cream to my feet. Just finish off the excess on your elbows.

Tip: Rub in some cuticle oil to keep your cuticles soft and pain-free. You can even use a little olive oil or coconut oil from the kitchen.

7. Hey fatty!

Photo credit: Guy Bourdin

Have omega-3 fatty acids with every meal. These ‘good’ fats help keep your skin supple and moisturized. So just add a spoonful of flaxseed to your breakkie, have fish for lunch or dinner (or just pop a cod-liver oil capsule every morning to get your daily dose), a handful of nuts as a snack, and shift to olive oil – and you’re all set!

Vitamin C also helps to boost your skin’s collagen production. So eat your fruit and veggies. Citrus fruit and dark leafy greens have the maximum Vitamin C, so load up!

And last but not the least, drink plenty of water during winter. You won’t feel as thirsty as you would in summer, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t. The more hydrated you are inside, the plumper your skin outside.

Now that you’re covered, it’s time to go under the covers with a good book and that steaming hot cuppa. Ah, the joys of winter!