Foolproof Guide to Winter Skin Care

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again! The days are shorter, the nights longer, and the temperature has steadily gotten much colder. You’ve probably already gotten out your favourite cardigans and scented candles. But – oh yeah – your skin starts drying up too. Now that it’s winter, it’s time to up your cold weather skin care. This guide to winter skin care should help you find out how to battle dry skin for a beautiful winter glow.

Woman in a colourful floral winter jacket, green hat and plaid backpack leaning on a snowboard in the winter snow.

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Survive winter’s harsh elements with glowing skin. Stay silky smooth this winter with this foolproof guide to winter skincare! Get tips on keeping your skin hydrated and nourished in the harsh winter months.

Woman walking up a ski hill using ski poles with fresh snow. A backpack and snowboard on her back. She is wearing pink snow pants, grey shirt and green hat.

It’s easy to forget your skin can get chapped and itchy when the cold weather comes back. But if you deal with dry skin, it’s important to protect your skin to avoid winter skin problems. If you’re like me, you’ll do anything to avoid dry, itchy, irritated skin!

To help, I’ve written up a comprehensive guide to winter skin care, which includes tips for winter skin care. I’ve also added easy, yet effective ideas for your daily skin care routine in the winter. I’m also really into the outdoors, so I’ve added a few ideas on how to protect your skin while skiing and snowboarding too.

So without further ado, here is my foolproof guide to winter skin care!

A chair lift on a ski hill.

Understand Your Skin Type

Before we dive into more specific tips for winter skin, the best thing you can do is learn your skin type. When you wash your face at the end of the day, how does it feel before you apply moisturizer? If it’s:

Tight and Dry

Your skin is dry. You may be able to get away with a normal skincare routine during spring and summer months, but winter months may make your skin feel tight and itchy. If you deal with dry skin, you’ll need to use heavier moisturizers to keep your skin moisturized.

Woman on a ski hill with fresh snow standing with a snowboard. She is wearing pink snow pants, grey shirt and green hat.


If your skin feels supple and soft when you wash your face, you likely have normal skin. Lucky you, you may not need a lot of products to keep your skin beautiful. But since winter air is drier than other months, you’ll still need to moisturize more.

Still a Little Oily

Oily skin can be a bummer during the summer months, but there’s a lot of reasons to be grateful for oily skin. Oilier skin ages slower than dry skin, and won’t get painfully tight during colder weather. Cold weather likely won’t affect your skin as much, but you’ll still need to switch a few products in preparation for winter weather.

Once you understand the skin you’re in, it’s easier to know what products to use and which tips to skip.

Woman on a ski hill with fresh snow standing with a snowboard. She is wearing pink snow pants, glasses, grey shirt and green hat.  She is holding part of her shirt.

Use Retinol to Exfoliate

If you’ve been using a rough, physical exfoliator, you may want to consider switching to retinol to exfoliate your skin for cold weather skin care. Although retinol may irritate your skin at first, your skin will grow more tolerant to it as you use it. It’s a powerful exfoliator and will also promote cell growth, so it’ll reveal fresh, youthful skin as well as slow down signs of aging.

A little retinol goes a long way. Start with a small dose about 1-2 times a week, and then go up from there. If you start slow, you may not experience any skin irritation at all. It also won’t buff away your skin’s protective outer layers, which you desperately need during dry winter months.

Cover Your Skin

UV rays are more intense in the summertime than the wintertime, so you may be tempted to forget about cold weather skin protection. But even if the weather’s cloudy or cold, you have to remember UV rays are still present!

I don’t spend much time indoors during the winter, as I really like hiking and snowboarding. Protect your skin while skiing and snowboarding by taking extra measures to cover your skin. Wear protective hats and sunglasses to protect the sensitive skin on your face and your eyes. Sunglasses are not only important for your eyes but the delicate skin around them.

Woman on a ski hill with fresh snow standing with a snowboard. She is wearing pink snow pants, grey shirt and green hat.

Break Out the Humidifier

This tip is great for those with dry skin. When it’s humid outside, your skin retains more moisture. But when the air is cold and dry, your skin loses water to the air. This is especially true if you have a compromised skin barrier or dry skin.

Luckily, you can add some moisture back into your bedroom with a humidifier. Just fill it up with water and turn it on at night before you go to bed. As you sleep, your skin will repair itself as well as drink in all the humid air. You’ll wake up with healthier, happier skin.

Use Gentle Cleansers

Since the air is so cold and dry in the winter time, your skin will be drier than usual. So while you were able to get away with fruity, scented cleansers and lotions in the summertime, they may cause some irritation this time of year.

Switch up your body soap and facial cleanser to gentle cleansers for cold weather skin protection. It’s okay to use a subtle exfoliant a few times a week, or as much as your skin can handle. But be careful to not overdo it, because heavy exfoliation will only make your skin more dry and irritated.

Woman on a ski hill with fresh snow. She is wearing pink snow pants, grey shirt and green hat.

Shower in Lukewarm Water

I know, I know, showering or bathing in hot water sounds amazing when you’ve spent a long day out in the cold. But if you’re dealing with dry skin, don’t turn that handle all the way down. You’re better off soaking or showering in lukewarm water to protect your skin in the winter.

Why? Hot water strips your skin of its natural oils, which it desperately needs. Your skin likely has less oils and hydration than normal, thanks to the dry air. Wash with lukewarm water to ensure you don’t leave your skin too dry. Then once you’re out of the shower, apply lotion right away.

Fresh snow on a ski hill mountain top on a summer day.

Keep Itchy Fabrics Off Skin

That wool winter scarf looks so cute, and it may bring out your eye color just so. But if the fabric is rough, don’t let it rub on your face. It may not seem like a big deal, but your skin is already prone to dryness and rashes when the air is cold. Itchy fabrics like wool and some polyesters can rub skin raw if it rubs against your skin.

The solution? Wear soft, breathable fabrics close to your skin. This will protect your skin in the winter.

Woman walking up a ski hill with fresh snow on a mountain top.

Eat More Fish

My tips for winter skin care don’t just include products, they include lifestyle choices too. Adding more fish to your diet can improve your winter skin problems.

A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids keeps your skin soft and supple. Anything from the fish family, such as sardines, salmon, anchovies, and halibut are chock-full of it. But if you can’t stomach fish, feel free to take fish-oil capsules instead.

Exfoliate Less

I couldn’t have a guide to winter skin care without bringing up exfoliation. You definitely want to keep exfoliating during the winter months, since you may experience more flakiness than normal. But don’t get me wrong, you still need to cut back on exfoliation.

Exfoliation shouldn’t be part of your daily skin care routine in the winter. Cut back on harsh exfoliators or skincare peels you normally indulge in. They’ll only weaken your skin barrier when you need it the most.

Of course, you have to know what works best for your skin. If you suffer from acne and oily skin, you may not notice much of a difference during the winter months and keep exfoliating. But if you have dry skin, consider cutting exfoliation back and seeing if that improves your situation.

Woman on a ski hill with fresh snow cross country skiing. She is wearing pink snow pants, floral jacket and green hat.

Turn Down the Thermostat

I know, it seems like I’m trying to take away every comfort from you! But you have to decide if it’s worth drying out your skin. The central heating system in your house dries out your skin much like a hot shower does. The air is warm and dry, so it’ll pull the moisture from your skin out into the air.

It doesn’t mean you have to give up your heater completely! Just turn the temperature up to a comfortable but cool setting. Aim for 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 72 degrees Fahrenheit to protect your skin in the winter.

A winter snow scene on a mountain top on a sunny day.

Change out of Wet Clothes Immediately

In some regions, winter can mean a lot of rain or snow. Or if you’re like me, you love to exercise outside and end up either wet or sweaty from building snowmen, skiing, or hiking. Whatever the case may be, don’t stay in your wet clothes very long. That includes everything from gloves, hats, pants, jackets, and shirts.

Wet clothes cause skin to chap, not to mention you can get certain infections from staying in wet clothes for too long. Be safe and change into something dry and comfy when you’re done for cold weather skin protection.

Use Unfragranced Products

Your skincare barrier is likely compromised during the harsh winter months, making other winter skin problems worse. This is mostly true of those who have dry to very dry skin. Even those with normal or oily skin can experience some irritation when the air is very dry.

To keep your skin happy, switch out all your fragranced products for dermatologist-recommended unfragranced products. It doesn’t matter whether you smell good or not if you develop a rash from the chemicals in your skincare. That includes everything from facial cleanser to body wash to shaving cream.

A woman holding a snowboard and a beverage can. She is wearing a bright floral winter jacket.

Focus on Key Ingredients

One of the best tips for winter skin is to focus on ingredients. This tip will tell you how to keep your skin hydrated in the winter. If you’re anything like me, you don’t like to load up on too many skincare products. A simple skincare routine can be just as effective as a complicated one. That also means you need to make sure the products you do buy can actually do something for your skin.

Skin care companies can make it difficult to figure out what products actually moisturize and hydrate. Beyond trendy marketing, look for key ingredients to see what will benefit your skin. These key ingredients will up your cold weather skin protection:

Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin

Whether you’re oily, normal, or dry, products that contain hyaluronic acid will add some hydration to your skin. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means it draws water from the air into your skin. During the winter months, it’s best to layer hyaluronic acid products under heavier creams.


During cold weather, your skin is more likely to dry out and feel irritated. That’s where niacinamide comes in: it acts like an anti-inflammatory to ease redness and irritation. This can help dry, itchy skin and even some skin conditions such as eczema and breakouts.

Niacinamide is a good ingredient to look for if you’re dealing with acne during winter. It regulates oil production while soothing acne. It’s a good alternative to popular acne treatments, which usually dry out your skin even more.

A winter snow scene on a mountain top.


One of the reasons your skin gets easily irritated from winter cold is because your skin barrier could be compromised. Things we all do, such as over-exfoliating, sun damage, and not moisturizing enough can contribute to a compromised skin barrier.

Ceramides make up the building blocks of your lipid skin barrier. When you use products that contain ceramides, you’re enforcing your skin barrier to make it strong again. Once you do that, your skin will be more resistant to dryness and irritation.


I know what you’re thinking, petrolatum sounds exactly like petroleum! Didn’t we spend all of the early 2000’s trying not to put oil on our faces?!

Turns out, popular skin care marketing didn’t have our best interests in mind. Dr. Mamiga Turegano, a certified dermatologist, recommends using skincare products with petrolatum, which is a type of oil. This works well in thick moisturizers such as Aquaphor, Vaseline. These moisturizers lock in moisture and prevent moisture from escaping from your skin back into the air.

Unless your skin is very, very oily, almost everyone can benefit from a heavy moisturizer during the wintertime. Those with very dry skin may notice a significant improvement in their skin’s health.

A view of snow hanging off cedar trees.

Incorporate Serum into Your Routine

Like I said before, I’m not into an extensive product collection. Anything I add has to have 1) purpose and 2) be uncomplicated. That being said, serum can do wonders for your skin if you’re looking for an extra glow that seems to go away during the winter time.

Serums can have any number of benefits, but essentially, they add nutrients to your skin while adding hydration. So, it’s not completely necessary for everyone, and if you get away with a simple cleanser and moisturizer you may not need it. But those with dry or very dry skin should add serum to their winter care routine. You’ll notice brighter, healthier, and plumper skin.

Switch to a Heavy Face Cream

This guide to winter skin care is all about hydration for your daily skin care routine in the winter. Humid summers can get away with a simple face lotion during the evenings, as the humidity in the air will hydrate your skin. Humectants like hyaluronic acid can pull water to your skin when it’s humid, but dry winters are a whole different story.

If the air is dry, it’ll pull water out from your skin to the air. Emollients, such as heavy face creams, will protect the skin barrier by not only deeply moisturizing skin but protecting your skin barrier from letting hydration out.

If you’re prone to acne or breakouts, have no fear. There are plenty of non-comedogenic face creams out there that are heavy enough to hydrate you without breaking you out.

A woman in pink snow pants cross country skiing on a sunny winter day.

Apply Aquaphor Around Your Eyes

It’s no secret that the area around your eyes is very sensitive to, well, just about everything. Sun damage, wrinkles, pulling, tugging, and even dryness. It’s more susceptible in the winter, especially if you deal with dry skin.

To protect your eye area, use your ring finger to gently dab eye cream around your eye. Once that dries, coat the area in Aquaphor. It’ll seal the moisture into the eye area, as well as protect against redness and eczema.

Try Dry-Brushing

Your face probably isn’t the only dry area on your body this wintertime. If your body is also getting flaky, you can try dry-brushing. You’ve probably seen dry brushes at your local store: they’re big brushes with long handles and very thick, stiff bristles.

To properly dry brush, lightly brush your skin in a slow, circular motion. The brush will physically slough off dead skin cells, revealing fresh skin underneath. It’s well-known for promoting lymphatic drainage, but it also feels really good.

A woman in pink snow pants, glasses and green hat at a ski village.

Layer Your Skincare

Think of your skincare like your clothing. During the summer, you only need a few pieces of clothing to stay comfortable. But during the winter, you need extra layers to keep yourself warm and dry.

Cold weather skin care is the same way. Layering your products prevents your skin from drying, as you have multiple barriers against the elements. It also gives you the added benefit of addressing multiple skin concerns with multiple different products.

When it comes to layering your skincare, a good rule of thumb is to apply the lightest formulas first, followed by the heaviest last. For example, your watery toner goes right after washing, then serum, then moisturizer last. During the daytime, the last product should always be SPF. Even accidental exposure to sunlight adds up over a lifetime, and you aren’t immune to its effects during the winter season.

Use Overnight Masks

Looking for other ideas on how to keep your skin hydrated in the winter? What about while you sleep?

Overnight masks are an easy way to amp up your hydration game. Most overnight masks are made up of thick moisturizers that will add moisture to your skin as you sleep. It’s most effective at night because your skin repairs and heals itself while you sleep, thus allowing the mask to sink deeper and aid your restoration.

Woman on a ski hill with fresh snow standing with a snowboard. She is wearing pink snow pants, grey shirt and green hat.

Weekly Sheet Masks

Sheet mask popularity has greatly increased these last couple of years, and it’s easy to see why. Celebrities love to wear them on planes, but you can get the same hydrating benefits by using them in the comfort of your own home.

Sheet masks can be made of a few different materials, but the most popular are hydrogel or cotton. They’re cut to shape the face and drenched in nutrient-rich serum. Don’t get me wrong, these masks look terrifying when they’re on. But the sheet masks prevent the moisture from evaporating back into the air before it sinks in.

The end result? Beautiful, glowy skin. The effect is temporary, but you can use them as often as you like. Some hard-core fans wear sheet masks as part of their daily skin care routine in the winter. But you can achieve the same glow by using a sheet mask 2-3 times a week.

Wear Moisturizing Lip Balm

In all the effort put into your skin, don’t forget about your delicate lips. You’ve probably noticed that your lips always get drier and flakier around winter time. Your lips don’t have oil glands like your skin does, so they can’t lubricate themselves. This leaves them extra vulnerable to drying and cracking.

The other problem is that since your lips dry, you may find yourself constantly licking them to provide some moisture. But saliva doesn’t moisturize your lips. Instead, it quickly evaporates and takes any little moisture on your lips with it.

My recommendation? Wear moisturizing lip balm. Keep it with you at all times, and wear something that doesn’t smell too tasty so you’re not tempted to lick your lips.

It’s especially helpful if you’re like me and spend your time outdoors. The sensitive skin on your lips gets dry outside, so wear lip balm to protect your skin while skiing and snowboarding.

Try Spot Treatments for Breakouts

Even though your skin may be drier in the winter, it doesn’t mean you’re less susceptible to breakouts. Acne can still be one of your winter skin problems when your skin is dry. But instead of aggressively treating your face for acne, try a spot treatment.

This will allow you to moisturize the larger part of your skin rather than continue to dry it out, and you can still treat the pimples themselves.

Well, there you have it! Everything you need to know about cold weather skin care in one spot. Whether you deal with dry skin, oily skin, or normal skin, you’ll find everything you need right in this guide to winter skin care.

If you’re worried, you’ll forget something, don’t fret! Just bookmark this page so you can easily come back. If you have any other tips on how to keep your skin hydrated in the winter, please let me know. Trust me, I’m willing to try anything to keep my skin hydrated during the winter!

Woman on a ski hill with fresh snow standing with a snowboard. She is wearing pink snow pants, grey shirt and green hat.

Thanks to Kim Kufaas for the photos on a beautiful at snowboarding Mount Cain!

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.


Welcome to xoxoBella! You will find delicious recipes, travel inspiration and all the things that Bella loves.

Leave a Comment

  1. Mary wrote:

    I really need to step up my H2O game. Since buying a S’well bottle I’ve been better but should still be hydrating more. Thanks for the reminder!!

    XO //

    Posted 11.22.16 Reply
  2. Elly Leavitt wrote:

    Yes to drinking water! It’s so so so important x

    Posted 11.22.16 Reply
  3. Carrie Colbert wrote:

    You also have that whole youth thing going for ya… ;)))

    Love ya!


    Posted 11.22.16 Reply
  4. Katie wrote:

    My skin always acts up in the winter so I will definitely be working on these tips! I always stink at taking all of my makeup off!


    Posted 11.22.16 Reply
  5. Michelle mink wrote:

    I am the best at making sure that i drink lots of water. its the other things that i need to work on.

    Posted 11.22.16 Reply
  6. These are all so important! Drinking water is something I’m trying to do more of, I keep a large Yeti tumbler on my desk all day so that I don’t have any excuse not to stay hydrated 🙂

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

    Posted 11.22.16 Reply
  7. Sunscreen always! Such an important tip.

    Posted 11.22.16 Reply
  8. Love lemon water and love those Simple face wipes, I always travel with them!

    Posted 11.22.16 Reply
  9. Alli Smith wrote:

    I always remove my makeup before going to bed and I moisturize like crazy, especially during the winter months. Sunscreen is also my friend year round. And I always wear sunglasses when I’m outside to ward off those fine lines around the eye area. Great tips!

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  10. Tiina A wrote:

    These are all great tips – I just need to remember them! One thing that I have noticed is that drinking enough water makes a huge difference.

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  11. Jeanette wrote:

    These are absolutely awesome tips! My skin is so dry I can use all the help I can get. I know drinking water really does help a lot.

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  12. Paula wrote:

    I love this! I have a terrible time with my skin over the winter, so any help with that is appreciated.

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  13. Great tips! My skin just gets so dry in the winter especially in cold, dry climates!

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  14. Such important tips! taking care of my skin is one of the most important things too me, since we can’t swap it out for a new one after all lol

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  15. Simple Cleansing Wipes are a favorite of mine. I have been using them to remove eye make for a long time now. I love that they don’t dry out my eyes, like other brands.

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  16. Jenny wrote:

    Drinking water and eating right are so essential to healthy skin.

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  17. T-Nicole Johnson wrote:

    Great tips! I’ve grown to love lemon water. I love having a glass first thing in the morning 30 minutes prior to eating breakfast.

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  18. Really great tips for the winter. We don’t have winter here but all these tips can still be applied. I wish we have that facial wipes here too 😀

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  19. rika agustini wrote:

    I love Simple products! The facial wash is amazing! I also love lemon water for breakfast!

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  20. Carrie Chady Rundhaug wrote:

    Water is definitely super important for healthy skin! I love exfoliating and moisturizing. It makes my face feel so smooth. While I typically don’t use consumer products anymore for my skin care. I do have to admit I keep a set of Simple Face Wipes up at the Cabin because they are so easy to use.

    Posted 11.23.16 Reply
  21. Paula wrote:

    Wow, you skin does look amazing, it’s also true mine was like that wine I was 18, so jealous! hehe. Very good tips, specially the drinking water and eating well, some people don’t know how important that is 🙂

    Posted 11.24.16 Reply
  22. Ali wrote:

    I need to get those makeup removing wipes. I ALWAYS forget to remove mine at night. Which is terrible, I know.

    Posted 11.24.16 Reply
  23. Fi Ni Neachtain wrote:

    All those things are so simple but really do make such a huge difference. Your pictures in this post are stunning by the way!

    Posted 11.24.16 Reply
  24. Ave T wrote:

    Thanks for sharing great tips! I use all of them and these easy actions really help to keep my skin healthy.

    Posted 11.24.16 Reply
  25. Kaylee Jo McCauley wrote:

    I use to be soooo good about drinking water! I just recently started drinking pop again and I wish I never would have. Great tips! 🙂

    Posted 11.25.16 Reply
  26. Great tips for the winter months. My skin always get so dry, but it is mostly my fault because I don’t take as good care of it as I should.

    Posted 11.25.16 Reply
  27. Chrishelle Ebner wrote:

    My girls love the Simple face products. It is definitely important to stay well hydrated over the winter months. Skin seems to dry out so easy.

    Posted 11.25.16 Reply
  28. I definitely need to upgrade my skincare products. Winter is already here in MN.

    Posted 11.25.16 Reply
  29. Rashmi & Chalukya wrote:

    As much as I love winter and the snows I miss taking much required winter care tips. Thanks to this post for the reminder.

    Posted 11.25.16 Reply
  30. Bill S wrote:

    These are great tips for winter skin care!! It gets so dry and cold it drys out my skin so bad, especially if we have gone sledding.

    Posted 11.25.16 Reply
  31. michele d wrote:

    Great skincare tips for the winter season. The right skincare products ca do wonders on your skin.

    Posted 11.26.16 Reply
  32. chubskulit wrote:

    Now that winter is in full force here in my neck of the woods, these tips are greatly appreciated.

    Posted 11.26.16 Reply
  33. Anosa wrote:

    I love simple wipes and use them regularly, awesome tips shared here

    Posted 11.26.16 Reply
  34. Makeup wipes are an essential part of my skin care process! You have such gorgeous skin, so I appreciate you sharing your secrets with us 🙂

    XO, SS || Seersucker Sass

    Posted 11.26.16 Reply
  35. Via Bella wrote:

    I will be the first to admit to not taking my make up off when I go to bed sometimes but its because I barely wear any! I will keep these in mind though. ~Via Bella Blog

    Posted 11.26.16 Reply
  36. Kristen Carlson wrote:

    Great tips about winter skincare! I’m loving my pregnancy skin right now but definitely need to maintain a healthy regimen for once I have the baby!

    Posted 11.27.16 Reply
  37. Sarah Tonner wrote:

    I always change my skincare routine coming into winter because my dry skin needs a bit of extra TLC. And I do my best to make sure I remove al my make up after those Christmas parties!

    Posted 11.27.16 Reply
  38. Enricoh Alfonzo Naidu wrote:

    Se manifique! Loved the photo journal and descriptions. Such awesome insight and advice shared.

    Posted 11.28.16 Reply
  39. Enricoh Alfonzo Naidu wrote:

    Would love to get some of this for my mom

    Posted 11.28.16 Reply
  40. Rachel Mariana Timmerman wrote:

    I definitely need to pick up some of these removal wipes. That is the one thing I usually forget to do after taking my makeup off! I second the eating right and drinking lots of water 🙂

    Posted 11.28.16 Reply
  41. Stylooo wrote:

    Lovely pics and thanks for sharing an amazing tips for skin care.

    Posted 11.28.16 Reply
  42. I pity my skin every winter because it gets super dry and sometimes flaky. Will try out some or all of your suggestions. Thanks!

    Posted 11.29.16 Reply
  43. Dreammerin wrote:

    Amazing tips!! Great reminder! Thanks so much for sharing! Btw. I have a giveaway on my blog today!

    Posted 11.29.16 Reply
  44. Tracy wrote:

    will be checking out aquafor! thanks for the tips

    Posted 1.29.23 Reply