How to Battle Cold-Weather Acne

Our experts share everything you need to know about keeping your breakouts under control this winter.

When tending to your skin, there are a few essentials that are probably already in your routine (like sunscreen, moisturizers, and more). But when winter rolls around, there are some extra precautions to take to ensure your skin stays healthy—especially if you regularly deal with breakouts at this point in the year. To understand the ins and outs of cold-weather acne, read on; we tapped experts in the skin care industry and asked them to share everything you need to know about healing acne during the chilly season.

Shot of a young woman applying moisturizer to her face in the bathroom
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Note that the cold air will make your skin drier.

While acne can pop up during any season or age, according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Brooke Jackson, MD, FAAD, founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology, winter poses a unique challenge for the breakout prone: Cold weather in particular requires you to use heavier moisturizers and skin care products. "This can be a challenge for acne patients as they navigate dryness and irritation from acne medication in addition to cold weather," she says. "A board-certified dermatologist can help you select treatment options that best suit your skin type."

Dr. Tina Alster, MD, the creator and cofounder of The A Method Skincare, adds that excess oil is often a symptom of cold-driven dryness: The drier your skin gets, the more oil it produces to compensate. "The natural defense of the skin is to respond by producing more sebum," Dr. Alster says. "The sebum, when produced in normal amounts, is great for naturally hydrating our skin. But when sebum production is in overdrive, the extra sebum becomes trapped in the pores which, in turn, can cause acne breakouts."

Consider changes in your daily routine.

If you do, in fact, have naturally dry, acne-prone skin, Dr. Alster notes that you should use a gentle cleanser to help keep your skin fresh without ridding it of any natural moisturizers. Her suggestion? The A Method's Cleanse Gentle Wash ($42, You should also use a moisturizer that features specific ingredients, she adds: "Choose a moisturizer that contains probiotics, like The A Method's H2Biome Probiotic Moisturizer ($90, Probiotics can help to restore the skin's natural barrier—giving you the extra protection you may need."

Sunscreen should always be a mainstay in your winter skincare routine, Dr. Jackson adds. Also, keep your day-to-day routine in mind. "Consider your activities. Runners (outdoor athletes) and swimmers often need products with a heavier texture, as opposed to indoor athletes," she says. "Consider your overall health. Patients with eczema and seasonal allergies or who may be on diuretic medication tend to have more sensitive skin." In addition to using gentle cleansers and a moisturizer, Dr. Jackson says you should keep astringents out of your skin care essentials.

Examine your diet.

To have healthy and hydrated skin during the winter months, up your daily intake of water. Even though you won't crave an ice-cold drink as often during the colder months of the year, Dr. Jackson recommends making drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a priority. "Tea—particularly green tea—is another good choice to reduce inflammation," Dr. Alster adds. "Natural antioxidants found in fruits—such as blueberries and cranberries—will also help protect skin from the harsh winter weather temperatures and wind." Orange vegetables high in carotenoids will add even more protection from the sun's UV rays, which is a year-round concern.

Keep protecting your skin during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the world continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus, keeping a mask on and your hands clean when you're out and about is still critical. As for how these necessities impact how you battle facial breakouts? It's simple—Dr. Jackson advises to start by washing your hands with a gentle cleanser, like the Dove Beauty Caring Hand Wash ($9.74,, or using a hand sanitizer—such as The A Method Citrus hand sanitizer ($7,—before applying any facial products. From here, she notes to treat your face mask like your undergarments and change it on a daily basis. Plus, give your skin time to breath and limit your makeup use whenever possible.

Otherwise, simply be patient with yourself—whether it be taking social media breaks, meditating, engaging with a therapist, taking a walk, humidifying your home, and more—as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. "Be gentle with yourself and adjust your expectations," Dr. Jackson says. "This is not a normal circumstance, and everyone has been affected in some way. Our skin is our largest immune organ and therefore will show the effect of stress (COVID, working from home, being removed from your routine, home schooling, and chronic mask wearing)." If you are struggling with breakouts under your mask this winter, Dr. Alster suggests using The A Method's Maskne Kit ($105, to help keep acne at bay if you have normal to oily skin.

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