7 expert-backed tips for perfect winter skin

Whether it’s the harsh, cold air outside or the drying sensation of a heated indoor space, most skin types will be challenged in winter. Here’s what to do.

Cold weather can wreak havoc on your skin, so give it some love with our expert-backed winter-friendly skin routine.

Adjust your cleanser

A perfect storm of external and internal factors in winter means hydration needs to be the focus of your skincare routine, including cleanser.

Northern Sydney Dermatology and Laser dermatologist Dr Shreya Andric suggests switching to a gentle cleanser formula to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils.

SSKIN Australia senior dermal skin therapist Christie Cameron recommends trying a cleansing milk, oil or balm.

Just add water

Hydration-oriented products are a must to tackle dry and dehydrated winter skin, which is why the experts recommend skincare that contains heavy-hitting hydration ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

“These are excellent ingredients to encourage skin hydration,” Christie says.

Dr Andric adds both hyaluronic acid and glycerin are humectants, “which means that they attract water and help to hydrate the skin”.

Up the ante on barrier protection

The skin barrier has the all-important job of locking in moisture — but in winter, the cold air combined with humidity and rain puts the skin barrier under stress.

Accordingly, the experts recommend integrating products that protect and repair the skin barrier, such as a ceramide moisturiser.

“Ceramides create a barrier that help prevent moisture loss, allowing the skin to stay hydrated, plump and supple,” Dr Andric says.

Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas has this advice: “In winter, I recommend using a hydrating serum followed by a ceramide cream to really lock in moisture.”

Embrace beauty sleep

Night-time offers the skin a chance to restore and repair, which is why US-based salon owner Joanna suggests using a dedicated night cream to “hydrate your skin as you sleep”.

Dr Andric’s hot tip: Choose one that contains niacinamide.

“Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, is excellent for restoring the skin barrier and reducing any inflammation.

“It improves skin hydration by preventing the evaporation of water, which also helps improve the skin barrier.”

The dermatologist adds that in the evening you can double down by following up your moisturiser with “a nourishing facial oil as the last step in your skincare routine”.

Exfoliate with care

When flaky winter skin strikes, the inclination is to reach for the nearest exfoliating product.

But, surprisingly, the experts suggest going easy with exfoliants.

“Exfoliating one or two times per week is plenty in winter,” Christie says.

“Use a gentle chemical exfoliant to delicately remove any dead skin cells from the face.”

Dr Andric adds alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic or lactic acid are great options; and beta-hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid are good for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

Joanna stresses that “exfoliating too often in winter” can do more harm than good.

“It can end up irritating and stripping the skin,” she says.

Don’t skimp on sunscreen

Just because the sun isn’t out doesn’t mean you should ditch the sunscreen.

“It’s a non-negotiable in your routine year-round,” Christie says.

Dr Andric explains that sunscreen provides vital protection from harmful UVB rays as well as reducing the signs of skin ageing caused by UVA damage.

“Even if you’re indoors all day in winter, remember that UVA can still penetrate through clouds as well as window glass,” Dr Andric warns.

However, the one thing you may want to change about your sunscreen in winter is the formulation.

“Consider swapping to a more hydrating sunscreen,” Dr Andric suggests.

It’s not just about skincare products

When the temperature plunges, many of us pump up those heaters and spend longer under a hot shower.

But Joanna explains that “extreme temperatures of any kind can throw off the skin’s delicate barrier balance”, potentially leading to dry patches and dehydration.

“A big mistake many people make in winter is showering with water that is simply too hot,” she says.

“Shower in lukewarm water instead.”

Christie says to consider using a humidifier in a heated room if you plan to spend a lot of time there.

“It can help retain moisture in the air, so your skin won’t dry out as much.”

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Written by Sharon Hunt.