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Winter weather brings cold, super dry air, which can unfortunately wreak havoc on your skin. Whether you’re dealing with flaky skin on your face, cracked heels, or ashy legs, it’s such a battle to keep your skin healthy and glowing. Not only that, ordinary habits like raising the temperature in your shower or house can potentially damage your skin’s barrier as well. If you’re struggling with winter skin problems, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. We asked three dermatologists about what you need to do for your skin when temperatures drop. Trust us, their winter skincare tips are ones you’ll definitely want to follow.
As dermatologist Dr. Ramya Garlapati tells SheKnows, the lack of humidity in the air can really dry out your skin during this time of the year. Therefore, moisturizing is key.
“I would also limit exfoliating,” she says. “In the summer months you have more oil production, so you’re able to exfoliate a little bit more because your skin barrier isn’t compromised. But I would limit that during the winter time. Focus more on letting the skin stay hydrated and moisturized.”
In addition to Garlapati, dermatologists Dr. Rajani Katta and Dr. Michael Kassardjian also spoke to SheKnows and shared their best winter skincare tips. Not only that, they also shared the products they swear by this season, from vitamin c serums and healing ointments to moisture-rich creams. So here are 14 winter skin care products that dermatologists recommend for this season, especially for those with severely dry skin.
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Use a Foot Mask
Dermatologists suggest adding a foot mask to your winter skincare routine, like this repairing foot mask from Aveeno. “This is a deeply moisturizing foot mask with moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin and dimethicone to help combat those dry, cracked heels that are even more of a problem in the winter,” Dr. Rajani Katta, a board-certified dermatologist and author of Glow: The Dermatologist’s Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet, tells SheKnows.
Use Vitamin C for Anti-Aging Benefits
Vitamin C is beneficial in so many ways. According to Dr. Ramya Garlapati, a board-certified dermatologist, Vitamin C serums help to brighten skin, improve texture, and tackle hyperpigmentation. She adds that it also protects from environmental damage like the sun, which makes it great for those looking for anti-aging products.
Unlike retinol, which is seen by many as the ultimate anti-aging ingredient, Vitamin C can be used year-round. As Dr. Michael Kassardjian, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Los Angeles, tells SheKnows, he usually takes a break from retinol because he has sensitive skin and retinol tends to dry his skin out during this time of year.
“However, vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps to ward off free-radical damage, helps with fine lines and wrinkles, skin firmness and texture and overall brightening effect,” Kassardjian says. “Vitamin C is a great product to use year-round.” He recommends adding the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic serum to your routine, which also happens to be a fave of many celebs including Gwyneth Paltrow, Tracee Ellis Ross, Brooke Shields and Hailey Bieber.
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, Truskin’s Vitamin C Serum is an Amazon best-seller that’s less than $30.
Moisturizing at night aids your skin in replenishing all of the water loss that occurred during the day. Both Katta and Garlapati recommend CeraVe Healing Ointment for that exact purpose.
“This product contains dimethicone, hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help lock moisture into your skin, especially if applied to damp skin,” says Katta. “I frequently use this thick moisturizing ointment at bedtime, especially on my lower legs. When you turn the heat on in the home, it tends to suck moisture out of the air and out of your skin, and one of the first places you’re likely to notice that is your lower legs.”
According to Garlapati, Cerave healing ointment is just as good as old vaseline. “They are very versatile and non-comedogenic,” she says. “Even if you think that you have oil or acne-prone skin, as long as you put a thin layer on your face, it won’t clog your pores or cause you to break out.”
Relieve Itchy Dry Spots With Colloidal Oatmeal
“This product is formulated with colloidal oatmeal, and that can help with itch relief in these dry winter months while also helping to moisturize and strengthen the natural skin barrier,” says Kassardjian. “It also contains ceramide, a natural fat that can help hydrate your skin. In addition, it is fragrance-free [and] hypoallergenic, and because of the colloidal oatmeal, it is very soothing, especially helpful to hydrate your body during the winter months.”
Hydrate your Hands
“Hand washing is a must with winter colds and viruses going around, but the combination of cold temperatures, wind and hand washing can really dry out your hands,” says Katta. “This is a heavy hand cream that locks in moisture (apply while your skin is slightly damp), and a little goes a long way.”
Kassardjian adds, “This product is well-liked by dermatologists for hydrating the hands. It is rich in glycerin, which is also a humectant, which can help soothe, calm and hydrate the skin.”
Lock In Moisture Post-Shower
One of the best times to lock in moisture is after showering (especially at night) when the skin is still slightly damp. Theraplex is formulated to deeply penetrate cracked, dry skin while also providing long-lasting hydration. It’s a hypoallergenic, truly fragrance-free, and very thick moisturizer. Katta says she uses this several times a week on her hands, arms and legs after the shower to help seal moisture into the skin.
Use Fragrance-Free Products For Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive or dry skin, dermatologists advise going for products that are fragrance-free and formulated with gentler ingredients.
“This product spreads easily and feels lighter and is an ultra-rich lipid-replenishing balm. It helps to really hydrate the skin and rebalance it to help with irritation and itching,” says Katta. “In general, this brand has various moisturizers that have a minimal amount of ingredients and are fragrance-free, gentle and non-comedogenic and help to fortify the skin barrier.”
Dr. Garlapati shares that even if you can tolerate it, a fragranced product will still make your skin more sensitive than before.
Use an SPF Lip Balm
Another tip is to always use an SPF lip balm. It will hydrate, protect against the sun, and prevent signs of aging.
“With sensitive skin, I always avoid lip balms that contain added flavorings,” says Katta. “This option is a truly hypoallergenic lip balm that has the added bonus of providing mineral sunblock protection. It’s a popular choice for my patients when they’re skiing.”
Katta suggested the Vanicream Lip Protectant, but it’s currently sold out. Opt for Aquaphor’s Lip Protector with SPF 30 that’s just as good for only $4.
Wash Your Face With A Gentle, Hydrating Cleanser
Instead of simply washing away the dirt and impurities, opt for a facial cleanser that will also add moisture to your skin. Both Katta and Kassardjian had this one on their favorites list.
“This is one of my favorite gentle skin cleansers because it is truly fragrance-free and free of major allergens,” says Katta. “It’s also very gentle and ideal for dry, sensitive skin.”
Kassardjian adds, “This product contains hyaluronic acid, which has an incredible ability to retain water and moisturize the skin. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring humectant in the skin. A single gram of HA can hold up to six liters of water. Unfortunately, as we age, we lose hyaluronic acid, which leads to skin becoming drier, exacerbating the appearance of wrinkles. Therefore, adding an HA serum will help to moisturize your skin and reduce the signs of aging. It is gentle, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic and goes on smoothly. This product also absorbs quickly to lock in moisture.”
Stock up for the winter with a three-pack cleansing lotion for just under $31.
Reapply Moisturizer Constantly Throughout the Day
A nourishing, relief cream is great for when your skin becomes sensitive and irritable in the winter. Even though you may not have eczema, this cream is still great for soothing your skin.
It may mention the condition in the name, but this cream isn’t just for eczema.
“I like this moisturizer for daytime use during the winter and often reapply it several times during the day on my hands. It’s thick but not too greasy, which makes it ideal for daytime use,” says Katta.
Take Care of Dry & Irritated Skin Anywhere With An All-Purpose Ointment
Aquaphor is a workhorse for so many different parts of our skin, especially in the winter months, Kassardjian notes. Whereas Garlapati adds that she’s absolutely obsessed with this healing ointment for every dry spot.
“Aquaphor is a mix of petroleum jelly, mineral oil, glycerin and lanolin, making it an occlusive product that helps seal in moisture and helps hydrate and protect the skin,” he explains. “It works great as a lip balm to help heal dry and chapped lips and can also help to hydrate the skin around the nails and cuticles, soothing the skin and aiding in the healing process for this sensitive area. Additionally, it can help heal cracks and fissures in the heels and soles of the feet.”
“The Aquaphor Ointment, I am obsessed with that. It’s an all-purpose product. When I get little dry spots, I slug it on those areas. I use it on my lips, I’ll put that on my cuticles. It’s great even for your cracked heels,” said Garlpati.
Buy A Humidifier
Though you may not think of a humidifier as a skin care product, Kassardjian thinks they help. And Garlapati agrees that it helps to maintain your skin’s barrier because the lack of humidity in the air in the winter will dry out your skin.
“During the winter, the humidity drops, leading to dry skin that can itch, flake, crack and even bleed,” he says. “In addition to moisturizing, try using a humidifier in your bedroom to help add moisture to the air to help soothe your dried, itchy and cracked skin.”