Upgrade each step of your routine with these moisturizing picks.

By Claire Sullivan
October 22, 2019
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Cold air doesn't have to leave your skin parched until the temperatures rise again come March. Instead of weathering the usual wintertime complexion woes (like dullness, irritation, and tightness), sidestep them altogether with these tips—and workhorse product recommendations—from top dermatologists. Make these four easy tweaks to your existing routine, and your skin will look (and stay) healthy, calm, and hydrated all season long, despite drying indoor heat and blustery winds.

Related: Five Skincare Tips to Keep You Glowing All Winter Long

Cleansers

High-lathering soaps can strip skin of moisture, so swap yours out for a cream or an oil-based cleanser, says Dr. Patricia Wexler of Wexler Dermatology; leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing. As for a few recommendations? Peter Thomas Roth's Water Drench Cloud Cream Cleanser ($30, sephora.com) has nourishing coconut oil and a whipped texture that helps your face feel supple, not tight, after use. If you're extra-dry, a rich oil- based formula, like BeautyCounter Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil ($49, beautycounter.com), binds to impurities, so you can rinse them off without impairing skin.

Moisturizers

Hard water, caffeine, and some medications (decongestants and even certain antibiotics) can exacerbate dryness. Choose creams over lotions; they're less watery—and less likely to evaporate, says Dr. Naissan O. Wesley, Arbonne Scientific Advisor. Hyaluronic acid molecules, which can hold up to a thousand times their weight in water, are the MVPs in Sonya Kenkare's pick, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($15.06, amazon.com). La Roche Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ ($19.99, amazon.com), however, is Meghan Feely's sensitive-skin choice; it boasts a slew of skin soothers, including shea butter and water-attracting glycerin.

Exfoliants

Alpha- and beta-hydroxy formulas are generally less abrasive than physical scrubs. Use one once or twice a week after cleansing to remove dead cells and help your skin absorb moisturizers better. The reason for this swap? Too much friction can trigger inflammation, says Dendy Engelman—which is why the Indie Lee Gentle Daily Peel ($65, nordstrom.com) is so effective come winter (it has a light touch). Those with the driest skin types should reach for glycolic acid, say Wexler and Kenkare. It draws water into skin while removing dead cells. SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight ($80, dermstore.com) also has jojoba oil, which soothes while it sloughs.

Rich Creams and Salves

Treat your skin to something concentrated before bed to coax cells into regenerating and get a head start on hydrating for tomorrow, too. Seek out ceramides, which will help you do just that; they seal in moisture, says Feely. Curél Intensive Moisture Facial Cream ($30, ulta.com) packs them in a silky treatment, while salves like Naturopathica Gotu Kola Intense Repair Balm ($50, amazon.com) deliver a mega dose of oils that seep into skin and nourish it.

Multi-Taskers

Don't forget about your lips: They often become the driest part of your face during the cold-weather season. Vaseline's new All-Over Body Balm Jelly Stick ($5.92, walmart.com)—which marks the formula's first-ever reformulation and is even richer than the original—is perfect for your mouth (and works just as well on cuticles or wherever else you need a hydration boost).

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