No matter what our skin type is, and no matter where we live, we can’t seem to escape winter skin woes. That’s right, even in mostly temperate and sunny places like Los Angeles, our skin seems to flare up with dry patches, inexplicable flakiness, redness, and more. It’s like our skin is on a mission to obey the calendar year and doesn’t care what the humidity is outside.
However, not all of us can slather on the same rich cream and call it a day. We all have different textures, deep-rooted moisture levels, and genetics that separate us, and that’s what makes the world of skincare and beauty so dynamic. But if you’re finding yourself more frustrated than inspired by our snowflake-like differences, we’ve broken down some suggestions for you.
If your skin tends to be on the oily side, you might still experience dryness, redness, or bouts of dermatitis and eczema even though your skin still feels moist (or like an oil slick) to the touch. Tricky stuff. You might have the urge to avoid using oils and let your own oils ride it out, or even try to temper them with drying astringents, just to end up with too little moisture—and so on in a desperate loop.
We say don’t fear oils, but keep it light. Try oil cleansing, and skip a drying toner and go for a hydrating mist. Layer on a light moisturizer, and finish with a natural oil to seal it in and balance out what your skin is trying to achieve by overproducing sebum.
If your skin is typically on the dry side, then winter just exacerbates what you typically deal with. Product layering is also key here, especially letting each layer absorb for a moment before putting on the next. It’s not all about thinnest to thickest with your product line-up, either. (Molecular) size matters, so put on your most emollient thing last, whether that is a cream or an oil. Oils tend to have more molecular weight and will be a barrier to any other product you apply after, so keep that in mind to avoid wasting product.
Look for sleeping masks and serums with ceramides, and don’t overdo it with exfoliants like enzymes or acids. Though it may be tempting to want to dissolve away all the dry flakes, exfoliating also dries out your skin, not allowing your natural skin barrier to protect you from the elements.
If you have combination skin, your concerns are probably different depending on the area of the face. Don’t use clay masks all over, but rather paint separate masks on the areas that need them. Honey-based products are great for acne-prone skin to heal blemishes, but they’re also soothing and moisturizing for dry areas, making them great for combo skin. Finish with a light yet skin-softening oil or oil serum.
If your skin is pretty consistent, the only change you’ll need to make is leveling up your moisturizer to a heavier cream. It will seal in moisture, while a nutrient-rich serum will keep you glowy. And even though it’s winter, don’t forget your SPF on top of it all!
Sensitive skin can be tricky, because even though it may show dryness quickly, layering heavy products to combat this might cause a reaction. A common reaction that sensitive skin sufferers face during winter is perioral dermatitis—patches around the mouth and lower jaw that consist of tiny, red bumps and feel rough to the touch. It may be tempting to over-moisturize this area, but that actually worsens the problem. If you experience this, avoid anything heavy on the area, and stick to hyaluronic acid and a light oil that does not contain essential oils. Jojoba is great, or products with traditional Chinese medicinal herbs.
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