You know from experience that winter weather affects your skin, but do you know why? In this guide, we’ll dive into the science that explains why winter weather affects your skin, even if you spend most of your time indoors. Then we’ll offer our top tips for adjusting your 3-step skincare routine to accommodate for winter.
Why You Need to Adjust Your Skincare Routine for Winter
Without further ado, here are five reasons why winter weather changes your skin and necessitates a change in your skincare routine:
- Cold, inclement weather: Winter weather is tough on your skin, especially if you spend a lot of time outside and are frequently exposed to the elements. Rain, snow, ice, and wind cause skin to dry out and become chapped.
- Lower humidity: The warmer the air is, the more water molecules it can hold before it becomes fully saturated. Conversely, this means that the colder temperatures of winter translate into lower humidity. In other words, there is less water in the air for your skin to absorb, causing it to dry out during the wintertime.
- Indoor heating: Indoor heating may make the winters bearable, but they aren’t great for your skin. That’s because central heating saps the humidity out of indoor air as well as your skin, causing it to become even more dry. Even if you hardly go outside, you will still feel the effects of the cold weather in your skin if you have central heating.
- Long baths and showers: After a cold winter day, many people love to warm up by taking a long, hot shower or bath. Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to hot water is known to dry out the epidermis, exacerbating the effects of winter weather and leading to dry, flaky skin.
- Sun exposure: Most people spend a lot of time indoors during the winter, but if you’re an avid winter sports person, then your skin might definitely be feeling the effects of sun exposure. That’s because the brilliant white expanses of snow reflect the sun back onto your skin, making it possible to get sunburned even in the middle of winter.
How to Adjust Your Skincare Routine for Winter
Now that you know how winter weather affects your skin, it’s time to discuss tips for adjusting your skincare routine for winter. Here are some tweaks that you can make to your skincare routine during the colder months:
Switch to moisturizing products.
Foaming cleansers and water gel moisturizers are perfect for summer, but not so much for winter. Switch your routine over to cleansing balms, milk cleansers, hydrating serums, cream-based anti-aging moisturizers, and other soothing nourishing products that will help to support your skin barrier. You might also enjoy using a hydrating face mask as a regular part of your weekly routine to make your face feel even more moisturized.
Exfoliate gently but regularly.
A regular exfoliation practice is key for removing dead skin cells and keeping your face flake-free during winter. However, you also need to be careful not to go overboard and over-exfoliate, which will dry out your skin and potentially harm your skin barrier as well. Choose gentle exfoliating products and incorporate them into your weekly skincare routine at a frequency that makes sense for your skin.
Watch out for strong active ingredients.
Many of the most effective active ingredients — including retinol, vitamin C, and salicylic acid — tend to have a drying, exfoliating effect on the skin. While you don’t need to eliminate them from your routine entirely during the winter, you may benefit from reducing the frequency or switching to gentler formulations to prevent your skin from drying out further.
Keep wearing sunscreen.
Whether you spend a lot of time outside or not, winter is not the time to stop wearing your anti-aging sunscreen! However, you may want to switch from your more mattifying (removing oily, shiny appearance) summertime sunscreen to a more moisturizing wintertime one to make the experience more pleasant. It may take some trial and error to find a sunscreen that you enjoy using, but once you find the perfect one for your skin, you’ll be more motivated to use it.
Take shorter, cooler showers.
We hate to say it, but taking a lukewarm shower and limiting your time in the tub really can make a difference for your skin. Choose gentle, moisturizing body washes to prevent stripping your skin of even more of its natural oils. Immediately after the shower, apply lotion while your skin is still damp, to lock in the moisture and help combat dryness.
Try out a humidifier.
If you live in a very dry and/or very cold area, a humidifier might be your new best friend. Humidifiers put moisture back into the air, soothing dry skin, bloody noses, and cracked lips. Most people like to run a humidifier while they sleep, so look for a model that will fit on your dresser or nightstand. Be sure to clean it regularly to prevent mold and mildew from forming, and check the water level each night before going to bed.
Many people are conscientious about staying hydrated in the summer because they sweat so much, but they slack off on their water consumption come winter. In fact, it’s really important to stay hydrated all year round to ensure that your skin is getting the water it needs even when the air is drier. If you’re not motivated to drink plain water, try some herbal tea to encourage yourself to drink more liquids and stay warm at the same time.
What changes do you notice in your skin during the wintertime? How do you change your personal skincare routine once the weather gets colder? Let us know in the comments below!