By Kristin Limoges

Published on January 6, 2018

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Photography by PHUONG NGUYEN

Wow, winter really ascended upon us quickly, and if you’re skin suddenly feels like you’re the Night King on Game of Thrones, we feel you: dry, flaky, with no relief in sight. Well, we’ve nailed down all the techniques you need to salvage (and salve) your skin into the supple, hydrated face you once knew.

OIL!

Face oils are your saving grace, and can nearly single handedly save you from flaky skin. (Remember how you apply face oils though: on top of everything, it’s your top coat.) “I never miss applying a face oil at night,” says Nadine Abramcyk, Tenoverten co-founder. “My skin tends to be very dry, and I find this to be the only way to avoid having flaky skin.”

May we recommend COLBERT MD Illumino Face Oil ($150), Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil ($32), or Osea Essential Hydrating Oil ($68), which are all super hydrating and calming.

Night for Day

“When weather is so cold, I always like doing my nightly skincare routine in the morning as well,” says Berlin-based dermatologist Dr. Timm Golueke, and founder of science-based skincare line Royal Fern. “A richer day cream should be used in place of your regular daily moisturizer. It also means you don’t have to buy new product.”  

Give La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair ($19.99) or Dr. Golueke’s Royal Fern Phytoactive Rich Cream ($280) a try.

Cleansers

“You should also switch to a gentle cleanser or cleansing oil instead of a toning cleanser,” says Dr. Golueke. “These won’t strip your skin of its natural oils, but instead soothe and calm irritated skin.” Dr. Amy Perlmutter of New York Dermatology Group agrees, “Using a more mild gentle cleanser can be beneficial.”

She recommends NYDG Skincare Colloidal Oatmeal Cleanser ($48). I agree, I use this morning and night, it’s super moisturizing yet foams up, which I love. Or give Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser ($78) or Kiehls Ultra Facial Cleanser ($10) a spin, both are super gentle.

Avoid

“If your skin is flaky, avoid using products containing retinol and any products with alpha hydroxy acids,” says Dr. Golueke. as they can dry your skin out even more.

Mask It

When in doubt, mask it! “I’d suggest using an overnight reparative, moisturizing mask, like Royal Fern Hydra-Firm Intense Mask, that can be applied after cleansing in the evening,” says Dr. Golueke. “You’ll wake up with an extra dose of moisture.”

Give other sleeping masks that focus on hydration a spin too, like Lotus Leaf Extract Sleeping Mask ($48) or Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Mask ($16). A good sheet masks can do wonders for extreme dryness too, like COLBERT MD Illumino Face Mask ($110) or Peach & Lily Good Skin Day Mask ($6).

Or try my favorite mask of all time, Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Rapid Radiance Mask ($60), it’s both incredibly calming and hydrating, which is perfect for irritated, overexposed winter skin.

Super Powered Products

Your secret weapon in the fight against cold weather is superpowered products. “Anything with hyaluronic acid or sea buckthorn oil, which are super hydrating,” says Dr. Golueke.

Dr. Perlmutter also loves hyaluronic acid, and you will too. The name (hyaluronic? acid!?!) might sound scary, but it has nothing to do with acids or peels, it actually helps retain skin’s natural hydration, and can hold 1000 times its weight in water— aka keeps skin super moisturized.

Try it in Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Moisturizer (19.99), Renée Rouleau Skin Drink Concentrate ($42.50), Osea Hyaluronic Sea Serum ($88), or SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier Serum ($98).

Quick Fixes

“I love putting a hot towel on my face right after I cleanse,” says Dr. Golueke. “The heat opens the pores and I quickly apply moisturizer. It’s a mini at-home spa. You can also take extra eye cream and apply around the eye area to make an eye mask.”

Dr. Perlmutter swears by a few, easy at-home shortcuts during the cold months. “Shorter showers that are warm instead of hot will strip less oils from the skin, and can help preserve some moisture. Also, applying a moisturizer to damp skin post shower can also help lock in extra moisture. And consider a humidifier to help maintain moisturizer in the air, and counter the effects of our heating systems.”

Celebrity aesthetician Renee Rouleau agrees about the powers of a humidifier. “Whenever the air is dry and moisture is not present, the air draws moisture from wherever it can (through a process called osmosis) and especially in the winter, it will take it from your skin. Using a humidifier helps counteract the drying air so moisture is less likely to evaporate.”

Body Bonus Round

Dry skin affecting your body too? Try these hot tips for cold times.

  • Exfoliate

    : “Gently removing surface dry, flaky skin cells will not only make the skin look smoother and feel softer, but it will also allow moisturizing ingredients found in a body lotion or oil to be able to penetrate deeper within the skin to repair the skin’s moisture barrier more effectively,” says Rouleau.

  • Avoid bar soaps

    : “The body has far fewer oil glands than that of the face and the ones that you do have decrease with age, making the skin more difficult to stay moist,” says Rouleau. “Due to the high pH of bar soaps and highly foaming body washes, these can be very stripping to the skin and make dryness and itchiness worse. Instead, use a non-drying, low-foaming shower gel. Look for ones that are creamy in consistency and say ‘sulfate-free’ on the bottle…If you’re using the wrong cleansing wash, you’re instantly stripping moisture, which is the worst thing you can do for dry skin.”

More brilliant skin tips here:


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