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[Disclaimer: I've included links to different products in this blog BUT I am in no way compensated or affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this post. This post is not in any way sponsered all links are included to provide reference. If you elect to purchase said product I will not be compensated. All opinions and reccommendations are my own and are based on my experience as an esthetician.]

Dry winter skin can be frustrating and downright uncomfortable. Especially if you live in a cold climate. The winter season can be torture on your skin. But, thankfully for you, I’ve had plenty of experience in the spa and wellness industry as an esthetician. So, when it comes to keeping skin healthy I know a thing or two. As part of my winter skin series, I’m going to teach you how you can properly care for your skin this winter by focusing on gentle exfoliation, nourishing the skin, and restoring the skin barrier function. 

Dry Winter Skin Versus Dry Skin

There’s a difference between having a dry skin type and experiencing dry winter skin. Having a dry skin type means you deal with dry skin throughout the year. This could be due to you having a genetic disposition to have dry skin. Such as your mother had dry skin hence you have dry skin. Or, it could be due to the fact that as we mature and advance in life our skin tends to become drier due to hormonal changes. In either case, your skin is not producing enough oil (sebum) to properly hydrate and moisturize the skin. You’re likely to notice that your pores are small and tight. And, the surface of your skin may feel rough. You may also have skin sensitivities due to the skin barrier’s inability to protect the skin properly. 

Furthermore, dry winter skin can happen to any skin type, not just dry skin. This includes those with oily and combination skin. Usually, this is a result of common seasonal changes that impact the skin’s moisture levels. For example, if you live in a cold, snowy climate without humidity you can expect your skin to become drier during the winter months. Additionally, since you’re in a colder climate you’re more likely to crank up the heat to stay warm. This also impacts moisture levels in the skin. Consequently, taking regular hot showers or hot baths may feel good but they also dry out the skin quicker. Especially if you’re not properly moisturizing afterward. 

what is dry winter skin

Healing Dry Winter Skin

So, how does one exactly fix dry winter skin? First, it’s important to understand your skin type and how to properly care for it during the winter season. If you have oily skin you’re not going to need the same type of products as a person with dry skin. But, you’re still going to need to make sure you’re properly caring for your skin to prevent unwanted dryness. Today I’m going to focus specifically on oily and dry skin types. I’ll go into depth on how to maintain combo and sensitive skin types during the winter in a future post. So, stay tuned. As for today let’s explore what winter skincare looks like for oily and dry skin types. 

Oily Skin Types

Your main focus will be on maintaining a healthy moisture balance. Furthermore, you’ll want to avoid over-drying or over-hydrating your skin. This can be accomplished by making small tweaks in your skincare regimen. Such as switching to a gentle foaming cleanser that doesn’t strip your skin. Furthermore, when removing make-up in the evening use a cleansing balm (Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm $17.99) that hydrates the skin lightly. Your skin should feel soft, smooth and clean after use. As opposed to oily and greasy. 

Exfoliation during the winter is still important to help rid the skin of dead skin cells which can clog pores. Yet, you shouldn’t choose harsh methods that will dry out the skin excessively. Stick to exfoliating the skin once a week using an exfoliating toner (Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic $15) or essence that contains alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic or lactic acid. You may also find it beneficial to use a hydrating sheet mask when you do exfoliate to help with moisture infusion. Also, using hydrating serums or mists with hyaluronic acid can help prevent moisture loss. Additionally, use a light moisturizing lotion with SPF for daytime use. And, a midweight moisture cream at night will help support rejuvenation and barrier function. 

dry winter skin causes

Dry Skin Types

As for those with drier skin, your focus is going to be moisture retention and protecting the skin barrier. You may find that using a rich creamy cleanser helps to prevent excess moisture loss during the cleansing process. And, cleansing oils will be a favorite for you when it comes to removing make-up. Additionally, light exfoliation done weekly will help to clear up dead skin that leaves your skin rough and dull. Choose a hydrating exfoliating mask (Hydropeptide Miracle Mask $32)  that is rich with enzymes such as papaya, pineapple or pumpkin. Enzymes help to rid the skin of dead skin cells by dissolving them from the surface layer of skin. Many of these masks contain a mix of enzymes and AHA’s such as lactic or glycolic.

Another beneficial skin practice is layering facial oils ( Fourth Ray Beauty Skin Hero Face Oil $10) underneath your moisturizer or night cream.  Indeed this helps lock in moisture and repair barrier function. Choose creamy moisturizers for the day and hydrating moisture creams or sleeping masks for the evening. Also, using a humidifier can help counteract the lack of humidity in the air. Remembering to keep a hydrating mist or facial moisturizing stick on hand when you’re out in the elements can prevent dry, windburned, chapped skin. 


Dry Winter Skin Friendly Ingredients

Knowing which ingredients to look for is even more important than knowing which product to use. As you’ve probably experienced products make many claims as to how they will promote healthy beautiful skin. But, if the product has ingredients that don’t benefit your skin it’s not going to work. And, as you know different skin types have different needs and different requirements. If you have an oilier skin type you’re going to find that products providing light moisturization are optimal. These products don’t clog pores and don’t make the skin feel heavy and oily. Whereas, if you have dry skin you’re going to enjoy rich creamy products that cushion and cling to your skin. 

use a humidifier to help dry winter skin

For the Oily Skin Ladies

Key ingredients you’re going to want to look for are products that provide oil-free hydration. Think lotions, serums, mid-weight night creams, gel, and sheet masks. They should contain humectants that help in binding water to the skin. This is going to protect the skin’s barrier by preventing excess water loss. Examples of beneficial ingredients are hyaluronic acid, algae extract, propylene glycol, and sodium PCA.

For the Dry Skin Honey’s

Opt to use products that focus on improving moisture retention and protecting the skin barrier. Focus on creams, oils, and creamy masks. Some key ingredients these products should contain are humectants, lipids, emollients, and oils. Lipids help increase hydration while softening and plumping the skin. They also help to reduce skin sensitivity by improving barrier function. Commonly used lipids are sphingolipids and phospholipids. When it comes to emollients they are fatty materials that aid in moisturizing the skin. They work by lying on top of the skin’s surface and trapping moisture. Thus, preventing water loss on the skin’s surface. This process is known as occlusion. And it’s essential when it comes to protecting the skin barrier from harsh winter conditions. 

As a matter of fact, oils are a type of emollient that lubricates the skin. They range in density, fat content, and heaviness. Therefore, the more dense, fat and heavy an oil is the better it will be for dry skin. Examples of oils include coconut oil, palm oil, and argan oil. 

avoid over exfoliating dry winter skin


Dry Winter Skin Habits And Ingredients to Avoid

There are ingredients and habits that can and will irritate dry winter skin.  But, making little changes in your skincare routine can positively impact the health of your skin in the winter. For instance, opting to cleanse your face with lukewarm water can help to decrease excess dryness. And, using occlusive moisturizers or creams (Pixi Rose Ceramide Cream $24) when exposing yourself to extreme winter conditions. 

On the other hand, determining how some of the ingredients in your skincare products impact your moisture levels can prove beneficial. For example, if you use Retin-A or Retinol you may consider cutting back or discontinuing use during the height of winter. Retin-A and retinol are known to cause dryness and flaking. Using them during the harsh winter months can exacerbate these symptoms. Therefore, plan to transition to less irritating anti-aging ingredients. Instead opt for ingredients such as peptides (Image The MAX Stem Cell Creme $102), CoQ-10, polyglucans, and beta-glucans. They are terrific at decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles without the side effects. And, they are well known for their ability to stimulate collagen formation. You can find these ingredients in serums, creams, masks and other anti-aging products. 

Know And Understand Your Skin

Before making any drastic changes to your skincare regimen take the time to truly learn and understand your skin. If you find the whole process overwhelming work with an esthetician in your area. They can get you on the right track and teach you how to properly care for your skin. They can also advise you on what products you could benefit from using and how to create a skincare regimen that’s tailored specifically for you. Questions about dry skin and how to properly care for it during the winter? Leave them in the comments below! 


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About the Author.

women's health and wellness bloggerHi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I’m a health and wellness professional turned freelance writer and content creator.  You can find me on  YouTube and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!



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  1. Healthline | Dry Skin in Winter Months written by the Healthline Editorial team, medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb DNP APRN April 23, 2018
  2. Versed Skin
  3. Pixi Beauty
  4. Hydropeptide
  5. Fourth Ray Beauty
  6. Image Skincare