Winter. Some people love it, some people dread it. But no matter how you feel, you need to prepare accordingly. We pack away our sundresses and stock our closets with sweaters, we swap out light linens for heavy duvets, and we pump up that thermostat. A less obvious item to add to your winter to-do list, but equally as important, is switching up your skincare — especially if you’re over 40, when dry skin can highlight fine lines and problem areas. Here, celebrity esthetician and founder of Elina Organics Skincare & Spas, Elina Fedotova, guides us through the right way to winterize our skincare regimen.
Swap in a Rich Moisturizer
The frigid temps outside combined with the equally drying constant heat inside can wreak havoc on aging skin. “In the colder months, our skin feels drier not only because it is dehydrated… but because of the indoor heat and cold weather outside,” says Fedotova. “The blood vessels in your face and hands also become fragile from drastic temperature changes.” So it’s the time of year to replace any light creams (which are perfect for summer), with products that are more moisturizing. Fedotova suggests switching to a heavier moisturizer with emollient ingredients like shea butter, castor oil, or avocado oil.
TRY THIS: Follain’s Moisturizer ($32, Follain) is a non-greasy blend of jojoba oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter that will stand up to the winter elements, but still has a lightweight feel. Plus, it’s totally clean (meaning: it's safe for your body and the planet).
Add a Serum
Though it’s an essential part of a winter skincare routine, the cream or oil you moisturize with, despite what you may think, will not keep your skin properly hydrated on its own. “Emollients, like shea butter and different oils, do not hydrate by themselves,” says Fedotova. “They act as protective gloves over the hands and a shield over the face… helping to seal moisture in your skin.” But if your skin is already dehydrated, a cream with emollient ingredients will just seal in the dryness. (Ever wonder why you still feel dry after moisturizing in the winter?) The solution: using a serum with hydrating ingredients like vegetable glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or alpha hydroxy acid first and then locking it in with a heavier moisturizer.
TRY THIS: Not only does Elina Organics Omega Serum ($52, Elina Organics) increase hydration with hyaluronic acid, it promotes collagen production (meaning: it helps fill in those wrinkles!).
Up the Exfoliation
Another reason your skin could feel dry even though you’re lathering on oils or creams, is that you need to exfoliate. During winter the skin is trying to protect itself from harsh conditions by regenerating and pushing more dead skin cells up to the surface. Plus, heavy winter products can create a film on your skin that does not allow it to breath or absorb moisture, so sloughing away dead skin cells with a scrub or toner with alpha hydroxy acid at least a few times a week is a must.
“Skin regenerates from the inside out,” says Fedotova. “If we do not exfoliate regularly, that layer of dead cells can become thicker and thicker — which is especially noticeable on women after 40.” Our first reaction when we see dry skin, is to lather it up with a cream, oil, or butter. But as mentioned, a moisturizer on its own may just exacerbate the problem. “Very often, people use more butters and oils to shelter their skin from the winds, but the heavy layers of dead skin cells still leave your skin looking dry and wrinkly,” says Fedotova. This is where daily exfoliation and using a hydrating serum before moisturizing come in.
TRY THIS: Exfoliating with a chemical peel, like The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($8.70, Sephora), every evening will give you the proper exfoliation you need this winter, and will leave your skin glowing — all for $9!
Mist With Caution
If you work in a dry office where they crank up the heat, (and you just can’t be that person with a humidifier at your desk) spritzing your skin with a hydrating mist throughout the day can help. But Fedotova warns to be careful when heading outdoors. “We all know that if you have wet hands and go in the cold you can easily get frostbite,” she says. “Hydrating mists and toners are 100 percent water-based products which can freeze on the surface of your skin and damage it on a cold and windy day.” If you use mist in your morning regimen, she says to pat your skin dry and seal it with a heavy day cream before you go outside.
TRY THIS: Join the masses who love the Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs & Rosewater ($7, Ulta) for its hydrating and soothing powers. It doesn't hurt that it smells heavenly, too!
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
See more of our best product recommendations.