Winter Beauty Essentials
By Katie Sobelman
In this article:
Our skin is dynamic and continually changing due to both internal factors, like the ebb and flow of our body's hormones, and external factors, like our lifestyle and environment. As the days get shorter and the weather cooler, you’ll no doubt once again notice your skin's needs begin to change. It can potentially become dehydrated from the constant use of heaters indoors and lack of humidity outside. It can also become dry and chapped from seasonal cold winds, and experience a dull, tight, and even irritated look stemming from these environmental factors.
Improving your skin's health can be quickly addressed by switching up your regular routine for one better suited to locking in hydration and increasing moisture in the skin during these icy months.
In this post, we will cover tips and tricks for combating the cold and improving your skin's health, from your face to your fingers and everywhere in between, sharing not only some amazing ingredients to look for, but also for my fave products featuring them.
A typical skincare routine should include a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, sunscreen applied in the morning, and exfoliation at least once a week. But, when the elements put extra stress on the skin, it makes sense to adjust this basic routine by upgrading to more moisturizing options and adding a step or two.
- Creamy Cleansers
When it comes to facial cleansers, there are two basic categories: gel (water-based cleansers) and cream (oil-based cleansers). If you are experiencing dryness and are currently using a gel cleanser to wash your face, switching to a creamier cleanser might be a good option. Most gel cleansers contain an ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate, a harsh surfactant that strips the skin of its natural oils (i.e., moisture) every time you cleanse. In contrast, creamy cleansers use milder surfactants and skin-nourishing oils to balance moisture, not strip it.
- Don’t Skip the Toner
Toning the skin is the most often skipped step in skincare routines. Yet it can pack the biggest punch when it comes to adding hydration to the skin. With a simple spritz or a gentle pat, applying a toner helps balance the skin's pH, reducing irritation and allowing products to absorb better. While there is a time and a place for more exfoliating or clarifying options, when it comes to addressing seasonal dryness, always opt for a hydrating option. For skin prone to breakouts, adding hydration in this step is less likely to cause congestion, leading to breakouts.
- Get Targeted Results With a Serum
Facial serums provide targeted treatments that allow you to address your biggest skin concerns daily. Since dehydration is a common complaint during colder weather, adding in a hydrating serum is a great way to combat water loss. Look for water-based serums with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin.
- Lock in Hydration
If the moisture levels in your skin are low, water will evaporate through the surface of the skin. Moisture and hydration are a powerful couple in the world of skincare. Both are necessary for optimal skin health. Applying a richer moisturizer during the winter months is a great way to lock in hydration and create a protective layer on the skin's surface, preventing the elements from taking a toll.
If you usually use a lighter cream for the day and a richer cream for night, try applying your evening moisturizer in the morning too. Another option is to add a facial oil to your skincare routine. Using facial oils after your serum and before your moisturizer is a fantastic way to ensure your skin is getting plenty of nourishment. I'll share a few of my favorite types of oils later in this article.
- Don’t Leave Your Lips Lonely
The lips are the only skin on your face without sebaceous glands; therefore, they have no way of moisturizing themselves. While it's up to you to keep them nourished, it's often a skipped step in beauty routines. Give your lips their own special service by treating them like the rest of the skin on your face. Start with an exfoliating scrub to remove any chapped flakes that tend to appear this time of year. Then why not try a mask? Just as facial masks give intensive treatments to the skin, lip masks are a great way to care for your pout. Follow up your treatment with a nourishing lip balm or butter to lock in moisture throughout the day.
While our skin is our largest organ, we often spend most of our focus applying products to a small portion of it. What about the rest of your body? Our body's skin covers a surface area of approximately 22 square feet, yet most people only apply product to a piece of real estate that takes up less than 1-square-foot, known as the face. While your skin's texture and thickness vary depending on where it's found, skin on your face is thinner and less padded than it is elsewhere on the body. Winter weather can affect all skin, no matter where it is located, so why not treat your body with the same care and consideration you treat your face?
- Ditch the Soap
When it comes to cleansing your body, there are thousands of options, including the age-old bar of soap. But unfortunately, bar soaps tend to be drying when used all over the body because soap is alkaline by nature, and your skin is slightly acidic. Cleansing with traditional bar soap disrupts your skin's pH and breaks down the natural moisturizing oils on your skin, disabling your skin's ability to keep water in, leaving you dry and dehydrated.
If you're someone who loves using bar soap but are experiencing dryness during the winter months, an easy remedy is to swap your bar for a creamy body wash. Unlike bar soap, body wash tends to be gentler on the skin, as they are less alkaline, plus body wash has added humectants that help to preserve your skin's moisture.
- Add Hydration While You Exfoliate
When skin is dry, dead skin cells can accumulate in its upper layers and result in flakiness or an ashen appearance. This buildup doesn't just look or feel undesirable; it can also prevent products from penetrating the skin once applied. This is why exfoliation is a crucial step in any skincare routine. Sugar scrubs are a great two-in-one treatment, as they gently exfoliate while also imparting hydration. Sugar is a natural humectant. As the granules slough off dead skin cells, they slowly melt into the skin, pulling in hydration as they absorb.
- Oil vs Cream, or Both
Your body care routine should always end with moisture, whether you apply a body oil or cream. Finishing with an oil-based product will lock in hydration, provide nourishment, and protect the skin. Most prefer one over the other. Look for vitamin-rich healing oils like rosehip seed and creams that contain deeply moisturizing and curative ingredients like shea. For an even more luxurious treatment, try layering the two, applying a cream over a body oil.
During winter months, it's not just your skin that can become dry. Your hair can also be affected by the blustery weather. Your scalp can become itchy and even flakey, your hair might lose its shine and become frizzy, and the ends might even split. In the same way your skin reacts to the winter's elements, so does your hair. Thus, swapping out your summer haircare for more seasonally appropriate products is a must when it comes to healthy locks.
Start at the Root of the Matter
When it comes to hair health, your stands are only as healthy as your scalp. Often overlooked and undertreated, your scalp health determines the health of your hair. So if you are noticing a lack of luster, flakiness, or feeling itchy, your scalp could use some attention.
Just as we exfoliate every other inch of ourselves, exfoliating the scalp once a week or a few times a month can be a fantastic way to remove the buildup that clogs hair follicles, inhibiting hair growth and preventing nutrients from penetrating the scalp.
Oil treatments, a fantastic way to nourish your scalp, can be easily integrated into the haircare routine you already have. Apply a few drops of oil to your scalp at multiple partings all over your head. Allow the oil to remain on your scalp for 30 minutes to overnight, then shampoo as usual. Rosehip seed oil makes for an excellent scalp treatment. Rich in vitamins A, C, and E, rosehip helps calm irritation, soothes itching, and does away with dandruff, promoting shiny, healthy hair without leaving you greasy or feeling weighed down.
A simple way to promote scalp health and the health of your hair is to massage your scalp. Scalp massage promotes circulation, which can increase hair growth by promoting healthy blood flow to the scalp, bringing with it oxygen and nutrients while eliminating toxins. Scalp massage can be performed on dry hair, over an oil treatment, or while you're washing your hair in the shower.
In an average haircare routine, the conditioning step is when you add moisture to your hair. But when hair is dull, dry, or damaged, adding moisture in multiple steps can ensure your hair regains its gleam.
- Moisturizing shampoo
Try swapping your regular shampoo for something better suited to your hair's seasonal needs. Instead of a clarifying shampoo, which can leave your hair brittle and stripped of moisture, opt for a nourishing cleanser full of the same moisturizing ingredients you use on the rest of your body.
Just as face masks offer intensive targeted treatments for your skin, hair masks are a great way to nourish your hair, adding moisture and shine to combat winter hair troubles. Whether it's once a week or a few times a month, adding a moisturizing hair mask to your arsenal is an effective way to repair and maintain the health of your hair.
Even though you now know what types of products to incorporate into your winter beauty routine, it can still be challenging to know which items are right for you with so many options available. By learning about specific ingredients and their benefits, you can take the guessing out of shopping for your winter essentials. Below is a cheat sheet of the best ingredients to combat your skin's winter needs. Pick and choose the ingredients that speak to you and look for products that highlight these ingredients the next time you shop.
- Hyaluronic Acid
A humectant found naturally in the body, hyaluronic acid helps bind water to collagen, allowing it to hold up to a thousand times its weight in water. When applied topically, it pulls hydration from the environment into the skin, giving the skin a dewy and plump appearance. When the moisture barrier breaks down, this hydration is allowed to evaporate. Therefore, after applying hyaluronic acid-based products, make sure to follow with a protective moisturizer. Look for hyaluronic acid in water-based serums, hydrating toners, moisturizers, and sheet masks.
Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is a multitasking wonder. Best known for its ability to fight breakouts, studies have shown this vitamin is more effective than Vaseline at reducing water loss and increasing hydration levels in the skin. It also works to rebuild the structure of the skin, reducing dryness, redness, and inflammation. Because of its many benefits, look for moisturizing products that include this ingredient.
- Rosehip Seed Oil
This non-greasy, vitamin-rich plant oil is a great natural source of vitamins A, C, and E. While a fantastic moisturizing agent, rosehip seed oil is also a powerful antioxidant and skin regenerator, making it suitable for treating skin conditions from acne to eczema.
- Argan Oil
Sourced from kernels native to Morocco, argan oil is a fantastic option for all skin types as it is non-pore clogging and rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants. This plant-based oil will help to relieve dryness and irritation, as well as promote healing in the skin.
A rich and nourishing emollient, shea butter is a superior moisturizer that can penetrate deep into the skin and create an effective proactive barrier. With vitamins A, E, D, and F, it is a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. A must for dry, parched skin.