A Dermatologist's Top Tips for Reclaiming Your Complexion After a Cold Winter
A long, cold, dry winter often leaves skin feeling lifeless, not to mention uncomfortable. Mitigating discomfort and replenishing your dry, tired skin might seem like a daunting task. After months of exposure to harmful rays and cold, biting wind, post-winter skin often needs a boost. But thanks to some hydrating ideas from Caroline Robinson, MD, FAAD, and founder of Tone Dermatology, moisturized, healthy-looking skin is only a handful of steps away.
Routine Is Key
Certain everyday actions can help stop dry skin in its tracks. "I always recommend applying a lotion or cream immediately following washing your face and immediately following a bath," says Dr. Robinson. "That is because our skin loses hydration with each minute that we wait due to a phenomenon called Transepidermal Water Loss." She says other products like hyaluronic acid and hydrating serums or toners can be used to complement a routine, but they never replace the basics of gentle cleansing and consistent moisturizing.
Use Replenishing Products
While establishing a routine is one step in reviving dull, post-winter skin, what products the routine consists of is also important. Product categories like gentle cleansers, exfoliating products, moisturizers, sunscreen, and antioxidants are all aspects of your skincare routine that can bolster hydration, she says. "Choose a creamy facial cleanser or a soap that does not suds up very much," she says. Dr. Robinson recommends CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser ($14.99, amazon.com) thanks to its gentle ingredient list that lends itself to all skin types. "Use lukewarm water, not hot, when you're cleansing and 'wet moisturize,' meaning don't completely dry your skin before you apply your lotion, this will give you a hydration boost."
Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate
A gentle exfoliating facial cleanser and exfoliating body wash are useful in improving the appearance of dull skin in a safe way, says Dr. Robinson. "This is key to do when seasons change and the end of winter is a great time to incorporate this into a balanced skincare routine," she says. "I prefer ingredients such as glycolic acid and lactic acid to accomplish a great glow because they are gentle enough to use on all skin types." She also recommends trying a series of chemical peels with your dermatologist, as they can be fast and effective ways to correct dullness, pigment changes, or other damage that has occurred over the years and help you transition into the next season. If visiting a dermatologist isn't feasible, there are great at home peel options as well. Dr. Robinson recommends Philosophy Microdelivery Dream Peel ($60, ulta.com) and the Microdelivery Resurfacing Peels ($72, sephora.com).
Protect Your Skin
Dr. Robinson recommends sunscreen and sun-protective clothing as a way to ensure skin stays hydrated and replenishes to its full potential after winter. "Sunscreen should be used year-round as UV rays are still present and damaging to the skin during all seasons." Another reminder: Protect your lips. Dr. Robinson says there are many lip balms on the market with SPF 30 that can be used to prevent sun damage that can occur over time.
What to Avoid
While it's important to use certain ingredients when reviving skin after winter, there are also important ingredients to dodge. "Avoid products that contain alcohol, astringents, and harsh beaded scrubs or loofahs," she says. "These can be extremely irritating, creating more inflammation when the skin barrier may already be drier, irritated, and compromised." Instead, Dr. Robinson says your focus during and after the winter months should be on driving moisture into your skin. "This principle should influence each step of your skin and body care routine to avoid unnecessary dryness and inflammation."