Winter Skin Tips from Someone Who Lives in a Place Where There is *Actually* Winter
Wisconsin winters are no joke. They’re more than just chillier temps and the occasional snowfall. I’m talking blistering wind that hurts your face, temperatures so low that schools cancel activities for “cold days” instead of “snow days”, and the kind of internal cold that can’t be solved by anything other than a steaming hot shower. (We’ll get to that later)
So in the past, other publications’ winter skin tips have had me calling BS. A thicker moisturizer just isn’t going to be the one-stop solution to all of my problems. In fact, it’s barely going to scratch the surface of the kinds of skin issues that winter brings with it. Let’s dive into a few of those, shall we?
Top 3 Winter Skin Issues
Redness and Sallow Skin
Depending on your undertones, a Midwest winter can cause your skin to become more red, or a bit sallow and sick-looking. I’m one of the lucky people who gets a bit of both once December rolls around. In the summer, I feel like my skin has a healthy glow. When the temperatures dip, I start to notice more imperfections, and an unevenness in the tone.
Surprise! Less moisture in the air can cause your skin to react differently to products that you’ve been using for months. Things that never used to bother you could cause your skin to dry out or - even worse - break out.
If you generally have sensitive skin, there’s a chance that an extreme winter like those in the Midwest could cause you to have an eczema flare up. I never experienced eczema until I went to college - something about the hard water and daily 20+ minute walks through painfully cold wind triggered a reaction with my skin. Eczema shows up in patches of red itchy bumps, and not only are they annoying to look at, they’re annoyingly tricky to treat.
7 Winter Skin Tips
Take shorter showers sparingly
You might think that a long, hot shower is just what you need to warm up after a long day spent braving the cold, but that steamy time under the water is actually wreaking havoc on your skin. Just when your skin needs moisture most, you’re ridding it of its natural oils in a boiling shower. Even though it feels counterintuitive - it feels so good to finally be warm! - try to limit your shower to 5-10 minutes every other day. Then, slather yourself in a moisturizing oil or lotion as soon as you jump out. Your skin is most absorbent when it’s wet.
Switch to an oil cleanser or a cleansing balm
Your usual foaming cleanser isn’t going to cut it in the winter time. Sure, it’ll take off your makeup and get rid of the impurities and dirt that are clogging your pores, but it will also strip away natural oils that your skin needs this time of year. Even if you have oily or combination skin, try switching to an oil cleanser or cleansing balm during this time of year. Both products will do a great job of cleansing your skin, while nourishing it with gentler ingredients and moisturizing oils.
Conduct an ingredient audit
Like I mentioned above, just because you’ve been using a product successfully for months doesn’t mean that it will be able to stand up to a Midwest winter. Many lotions and moisturizing creams sneakily contain alcohol and excessive fragrances which can actually dry out your skin instead of helping you replenish its moisture. This winter, do a quick ingredient audit on your favorite products to make sure that they’re not counterproductive.
Try an eczema-specific product
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with eczema, it could be a good idea to use one of the many products marketed toward those with the skin condition during the winter. These products typically contain extra-moisturizing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, honey, and nourishing oils that can help you get through any rough patch (see what I did there?).
Layer, layer, layer
You might have a detailed nighttime skincare routine year round, but during the winter it’s just as important to be intentional with the products that you use during the day. Slapping on one layer of moisturizer just isn’t going to cut it! Throughout this season, give your skin the opportunity to thrive by using an oil, a moisturizer and a moisturizing primer before you put on any makeup during the day. Add in an essence and a moisturizing mask to this routine at night to lock in plump, hydrated skin.
Use a humidifier
Dry air is the enemy of happy skin, and, when you’re living in Wisconsin, it’s everywhere. The heat that you’re pumping into your home keeps you warm, but it isn’t helping your skin stay hydrated. To combat the negative effects of dry air, invest in a humidifier that you can place in your most lived-in rooms in your home. The most important place: your bedside. Not only will this help your skin to stay hydrated through the night, it will also help you breathe easier, and limit other issues that you may experience due to dry air, like bloody noses and cracked lips.
Last, but definitely not least, I suggest that you wear sunscreen during the winter. I get it, as a society we still haven’t evolved to a place where we wear sunscreen regularly unless we’re spending a significant amount of time outside: at the pool, the park, or on the field. However, no matter where we are, or for how long, we are being exposed to the sun’s rays and experiencing skin damage because of them. Even in the winter, it’s important to apply sunscreen every day. Look for a moisturizer that has SPF built in for simplicity, or find a physical or chemical sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white cast if you’d like something with a bit more staying power.
These seven tips have helped me survive Wisconsin winters year after year without experiencing eczema flare ups, dry patches, or very red skin (rosy cheeks are cute, right?). If you live somewhere where this is actually a winter, you’ll want to take these tips and implement a few for yourself. Your skin will thank you!