When it gets cold, humidity levels drop. The wind can chap your skin when you’re outdoors. When you’re inside, the dry heat from central heating can leave normally healthy skin feeling dehydrated. Plus, the sebaceous glands get sluggish in colder weather, exacerbating it further. We curated a list of winter skincare essentials to help you keep your skin healthy and glowing through the year!

If you have dry skin….

It’ll likely feel drier, flakier and tight as the temps dip. You might notice your skin feeling less elastic than before, with flaky patches that won’t get moisturised or smoothed down. Your skin might feel more sensitive too, because your skin barrier may get compromised. It then lacks the ability to hold onto oil and water, which makes it itchy. All that scratching can cause rashes, inflammation and irritation-induced hyperpigmentation. Here’s what you can change in your routine to ensure you’re staying glossy, glowing and dewy even when it’s winter.

  1. Cleanse carefully. You’ll want to ensure you use a non-stripping cleanser that removes makeup, sunscreen and dirt while maintaining the acid mantle. If you’re double cleansing, make sure to use an oil cleanser first. Then use a creamy or gel-like face wash to gently but thoroughly clean.
  2. You’ll want to exfoliate too. It’s key to use a mild exfoliator to remove dead and dry cells from the skin’s surface. This will improve cell turnover and enable serums and oils to actually penetrate and absorb into the skin. This is the best tool to combat dryness induced-dullness.
  3. Incorporate barrier-boosting ingredients. Your skin barrier is your best form of support against dryness. So you’ll have to include ingredients like ceramides and fatty acids to settle into the cracks and build up the mortar that’ll let you store water and oil in the skin.
  4. Add oils! A winter skincare essential for dry skin is facial oil. While this can be derived from other products too, a non-comedogenic facial oil, when added to your night routine may help keep your face hydrated through the day and restore it’s glow. Not only do they hydrate and nourish, facial oils such as squalane and marula oil have great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
  5. Layer well. Start with a damp face, and use a humectant like glycerin or hyaluronic acid to absorb the moisture and lock it into the skin. Then, use a lightweight cream or moisturiser that’ll act like an emollient that’ll smooth down dry skin cells and create a supple canvas. Oils come last—they work like occlusives to seal it all in and prevent transepidermal moisture loss.

If you have oily skin…

If your skin is oily, you may find that it is more oily than usual in the winter. The dry air will strip your skin of its natural oil. To counteract, the sebaceous glands will kick into high-gear, overproducing sebum in an attempt to keep the skin soft and supple. It might be dehydrated at the same time though, which will mean that your skin is oily but overly shiny, with visible pores and regular zit outbreaks. Here’s how you can balance the oil and water in your skin to find a happy balanced medium.

  1. Don’t strip your skin. The knee-jerk reaction would be to use mattifying products that’ll get rid of the oil immediately, but that may cause more oiliness due to compensation. It is better to use a hydrating cleanser that’ll balance and soothe rather than dry it out. Look at face washes with hydrating ingredients such as sodium hyaluronate. 
  2. Exfoliating is important too—AHA’s are water-soluble chemicals that slough off dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, making them a choice for rebalancing oil production.
  3. Instead of using thick, heavy moisturisers, it is better to use a light, water-based serum first. Look to ingredients like snail mucin, glycerin and squalane, which will lock in moisture and improve the plumpness of your skin.
  4. Apply oils, because some lightweight ones like açaí and jojoba oil actually have the same composition to the ceramides that protect our skin. These balance, hydrate and protect the skin with clogging pores. You can also apply them to parts of your face that tend to get more dry and flaky than those that get greasy.

If you have acne-prone skin…

When you add in the use of drying anti-acne products and prescription medications into the mix, already dried out skin can feel even drier, itchier and red during the wintertime. If you’re looking to keep your skin hydrated and balanced while keeping your acne routine as it is, here’s what to try now.

  1. Keep the active ingredients to spot treatments or specific serums that you really need. For example, if you’re using a salicylic acid toner, keep that going. But switching your foaming cleanser for a soothing gel or cream texture that’ll hydrate before you strip it.
  2. Apply your toner, spot treatment or lotion onto your skin. Then wait a couple of minutes before you moisturise your skin. Don’t think you can skip it now. Try a non-comedogenic and lightweight moisturiser that’ll improve your skin barrier without getting in the way of your anti-acne regimen.
  3. Spot treat areas with acne, but be gentler with the rest of your skin and maintain hydration!
  4. Exfoliate! If dry, peeling flakes remain on the skin’s surface, they can actually clog pores and worsen acne. Try to use a chemical exfoliator that’ll dissolve these pieces and give you a clear canvas to work with.