Our skin is a fickle organ that constantly changes — you can thank both hormones and the four seasons for that. It makes sense then not to follow the same skin care regimen in the winter as you would in the summer. When it comes to cleansers, winter skin still requires impurities to be lifted to a place far, far away, where it can't threaten us with pimples and blackheads, but it needs a lot more TLC than it demands when temperatures are warm and inviting.
"Your skin is more sensitive in cooler weather conditions, and the new breath of dry winter air can quickly wick the moisture from your skin, leaving it dry, scaly and itchy," says Dr. Jill Waibel at Miami Dermatology & Laser Institute. "The easiest way to protect your skin from encountering these common skin issues is to be prepared with a good skin care regimen."
Here's what that means: kiss cleansers and toners that contain drying alcohol bye-bye and embrace products that have a creamier, more emollient consistency. If you struggle with acne, Waibel says it's best to keep products containing benzoyl peroxide to a minimum, as these are sure to dry out the skin.
"One ingredient I do recommend in glycerin, as it is a moisturizer and moisturizing is the key to calming dry skin spells," Waibel says. "Glycerin can be found in many topical lotions that can be bought at drugstores and can also be recommended by a board-certified dermatologist."
Here are five of our favorite winter skin cleansers:
There's a good reason why many women have been faithful to Cetaphil since they were teens — it never dries out your skin or makes it feel tight or irritated. It's also soap-free and ideal for people who suffer from rosacea and other forms of dermatitis (Cetaphil, $14).
This soap-free bar cleanses using soothing and moisturizing oatmeal. It's fragrance- and dye-free and can double as a cleansing and hydrating body bar (Target, $3).
I typically associate Neutrogena with fairly potent, anti-acne formulas, but their Ultra Gentle Cleanser is far more mild and rinses without leaving an oily residue behind (Neutrogena, $9).
This is my go-to cleanser when my skin decides to flare up without warning, two days before I have an event. It contains a mixture of jojoba and almond oil, always leaves my skin feeling like silk and does a pretty stellar job at removing makeup while cleansing (Beauty.com, $39).
I recently discovered Bella Schneider Beauty and, while I wouldn't label her Royal Rose Oil Cleanser a drugstore find, it cleanses incredibly well, removing all traces of makeup, while magically restoring much-needed hydration to parched winter skin (LaBelle Day Spas & Salons, $47).
One final tip, courtesy of Waibel, has everything to do with your next move after your cleanser: "Make sure after using a gentle cleanser that you also lock in the moisture with a good moisturizer," she says. "I recommend a thicker moisturizer like La Mer cream versus a lighter moisturizer that’s ideally suited for warmer months."
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