How to Better Prepare Your Skin for the Winter Months

No one needs to tell you that different seasons bring different challenges. Staying warm or cool enough, avoiding winter colds and summer burns, regulating your indoor environment for heat and humidity…these are all potential issues we must avoid as the year cycles. Another seasonal challenge? Nailing the right skincare routine. In summer, that means light products that fight sweat and shininess and finding ones that give you a dewy complexion without accentuating natural oil. In winter, it means keeping flakes to a minimum as your skin loses moisture and dries out in response to hot showers and high thermostats.

And one final challenge: transitioning between the two. The thing is, it’s likely that your summer skin care routine will not cut it come winter time. What worked for hot weather and long days outdoors won’t work for winter chill and long nights by the fire. So, if you’re looking down the barrel of fall and not sure how to adjust your skincare routine, it’s time to make a change. Even more important, if you’re already experiencing winter dryness and other symptoms, you need to update your complexion customs stat. Here are a few tips to better prepare your skin for the colder weather and winter months.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

The key to beautiful skin is moisture, plain and simple. While nutrients, exfoliation, and makeup products all add to the effect of a lovely complexion, water is your No. 1 friend when it comes to glowing skin. If you don’t do enough to hydrate your skin in the first place, then make sure to keep that water locked in – then you’re far more likely to have the glowing skin you want. This starts with understanding how skin hydration actually works. Your skin keeps water within its pores and in layers under the surface, which it uses for a variety of metabolic activities, including the production of the new cells that make you appear youthful.

It’s a popular misconception that moisturizer works to add water to the skin. Except for a very small percentage, this is not the case. Rather, moisturizer works to lock in water. If you don’t add that top layer to seal hydration in, you’ll quickly lose it – and in winter, that means dryness, flaking, sensitivity, redness, itching, and all sorts of yucky effects.

So, in winter, you need to switch to a product that will help to intensely nourish and keep hydration locked in. According to David E. Banks, MD, Founder, and Director of the Center of Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, winter winds can strip your skin of its natural lipids, which are the most important part of the skin barrier when it comes to keeping the skin from drying out. Lipids are responsible for the hydration, firmness, and healthy glow of the skin. Without them there is no barrier to keep the good stuff (water, free amino acids, lactic acid, sugars, inorganic salts) in, and the bad stuff out. This means you will want to look for a lipid barrier cream that will not only protect lipid barrier function but immediately restore what’s been destroyed so you can benefit from youthful, dewy, and glowing skin that has the hydration and radiance you’re looking for.

Use a Facial Oil After Cleansing

As Organic Authority explains, summertime calls for light and balancing cleansers with cooling products to soothe hot skin. In winter, your skin’s needs are different. Oil is the way to go, especially if you have a dry or balanced complexion, both of which tend to dehydrate more quickly than oily or combination skin. This is especially important if your skin is sensitive because seasonal moisture loss is a major culprit for redness and stinging.

The reason facial oil works so well is that it’s lightweight and fast-absorbing. Vitamin E will help to soothe any inflammation and any red appearance while natural anti-inflammatories, such as Ginger Root, will improve the skins overall structure, giving you that plump and dewy appearance. This is especially beneficial during the cleansing process because you’ve already got all that water soaking into your skin. It’s a one-two punch of hydration, quickly followed by sealing it in.

Note, however, that switching products can have some downsides. When you go from light and cooling to heavy and protecting, your skin has to account for that shift. That may make it a little fussy at first, but there are ways to accommodate it.

Transition Smoothly

Your skin is like any other organ or organism: It has trouble dealing with change. Switching abruptly to a facial oil and water-based moisturizer might overload skin that has only had to deal with light, thin products for months. Your skin may feel greasy or look shiny, and the oil overload might lead to breakouts.

That’s not to say heavier skincare products are a bad idea because they’re not. Your complexion does need that extra protection when outdoor air starts to chill and indoor climates heat up and dry out. The problem isn’t the products themselves – it’s how to transition their use.

The answer is skincare cocktailing, in which you mix two products together to ease the switch. At first, you’ll want to use lots of your current product and only a little of the new one. Then, go to half and half, and after that to a small amount of current and a large dose of new. From there, you can finalize the transition by using only new products. This works for both wash and moisturizer, as well as any other products you switch.

Layer Correctly

Does it surprise you to know that if you use multiple skin products, there’s a correct order in which to do it? That’s right: you could be compromising the health and happiness of your complexion by slapping on products in ways that a) fail to maximize their benefits and b) cause unpleasant buildup that makes skin feel unnecessarily oily.

Here’s how it works: Your skincare products have different thicknesses, oil contents, and nutrients. Your goal is to get all of the nutrients into your skin without some products blocking others. Serums, for instance, are very light and tend to contain the most nutrition. Because they’re so thin, they have trouble penetrating heavy moisturizers, which means they have to go on first. Plus, then they just sit on top, making skin feel extra product-y. From there, you can add antioxidant formulas, moisturizer, and then oil, if necessary, to compensate for hardcore dryness. If you put these products on in the reverse order, however, you’re likely to block their action. Each product has a harder time getting through the ones that come after. For instance, once you put oil on, you can forget about any of the others, so remember that order.

Also, you’ll want to wait a bit between adding skin care products, because then they won’t react with one another.

Start as Soon as the Season Changes

Most people address skin’s needs as soon as they experience something wrong. Perhaps the skin dries out and starts flaking. Maybe it gets red, irritated, or you start to see broken blood vessels. Or perhaps it starts getting oiler, a common response to winter’s drying powers – skin starts pumping out sebum (the body’s natural surface oil) to compensate, which can lead to acne and blackheads. No Bueno. You can avoid this by starting your winterized skincare routine before major cold weather hits. Switching up your routine before winter comes on in earnest has a few benefits:

  • You get out ahead of dry skin and other winter skin symptoms, such as itching, flaking, redness, and sensitivity. The sooner you give the skin that extra hydration it craves, the better off you’ll be.
  • You have time to modify your routine as necessary. If you find a product switch isn’t working for you, you can try again. For instance, if you switched from a water-based to oil-based moisturizer and don’t get good results, you can seek out another brand, perhaps one that’s not quite as heavy.
  • You have time to transition with appropriate skin cocktails, slowly decreasing the amount of summer product and adding in winter. This is much better for you than jumping right into the middle of a winter routine with no warning.

Note: If it’s already winter and you’re just now jumping on board, don’t fret. You can still switch things up in time for your skin to experience the benefits. The main point is that, from now on, you should start adjusting your skincare routine as soon as you feel the first frosty nips of fall in the air. Even with all the above tips, though, you may need to give your complexion a little extra love. That’s where microneedling comes in.

Start an At-Home Microneedling Routine

Microneedling is one of the absolute best habits you can start for your skin. The process is very simple: You use a small device with tiny, shallow needles to penetrate the area and create tiny, painless micro-injuries. The benefits? By creating those little punctures, your body perceives itself to be “injured,” and responds accordingly. Your natural response to any injury is to send lots of blood, nutrients, and water to the site, helping your tissues heal and regenerate new skin cells. The good news? These are all the ingredients you need for glowing skin, and the influx helps to promote the cell turnover, restoring the skin from the inside out and giving you that youthful and glowing appearance.

The benefits of incorporating microneedling into your daily routine are both long-term and immediate. You will notice an instant plumping of skin right after doing it, because of the increased fluid and the mild swelling caused by the penetration to the skin. Over time, you’ll see even more benefits. From happier skin, less dryness, more dewiness, and a younger appearance overall, microneedling adds the extra element every woman needs in her skincare routine. So why wait? Whether you’re planning ahead or in need of some major winter skin love, it’s time to create a newer, better winter-months routine today!