Shorter daylight hours be damned, there’s a lot to love this time of year. Cosy season means chunky knitwear, freezing cold walks and trips to the pub that involve gravy and/or mulled wine, ideally in front of a log fire. But it’s also the time when hydration takes centre stage in my winter skincare routine.
Although my skin is on the oilier side, it’s a good idea for all of us to focus on hydration and moisture at this time of year – regardless of whether your go-to is the best moisturiser for dry skin or the best moisturiser for oily skin. What with the temperatures plummeting, the atmosphere being generally drier and finally putting the heating on (although maybe you haven’t yet cracked on that last one), our skin can take a bit of a beating in winter.
As dermatologist and La Roche-Posay ambassador Dr Emma Wedgeworth points out, we also have a tendency to over-indulge during the holidays. “As we head towards party season, spare a thought for our skin; the colder weather, indoor heating and lack of moisture in the air will already lead to increased dryness,” she explains. “Heavy alcohol intake can cause increased dryness and sensitivity of the skin. This is further exacerbated by sleep deprivation which results in further dehydration and dullness and exaggerates fine lines.”
Should you change your skincare routine in winter?
Despite the above suggesting otherwise, it’s not all doom and gloom (even if it’s rather gloomy outside). Dermatologist and Avène ambassador Dr Beibei Du-Harpur notes that, while you don’t need to completely overhaul your entire skincare routine, there are a couple of changes you can make to support your skin during the colder months.
“The main thing to consider in winter is that there will be more transepidermal water loss due to the dry environment compared to summer," she explains. “My number one tip is to embrace using a more occlusive or rich product, especially for the evening routine. Switching from light gel moisturisers to creams or balms can be really helpful."
“Similarly, products marketed as 'recovery masks' often contain rich ingredients that are great for moisturising,” she continues. “Although petrolatum and mineral oils have had some bad press over the years, it is really quite undeserved and they are a key part of a dermatologist’s arsenal in managing many skin conditions, particularly dry skin. The occlusive effect of such ingredients essentially shields the skin and gives it time to repair itself or maintain its natural barrier function.”
There are tonnes of brilliant, hydrating and moisturising products that you can slather on as part of your skincare routine to keep your winter-ravaged complexion happy this season. Below is a selection of my longstanding go-tos and newfound favourites that keep my skin soft and glowy in a cold snap, for your shopping pleasure.
The best winter skincare products
There’s a multitude of brilliant hydrating serums on the market, and I’m not suggesting that you *have* to spend this much to find one you love. But experts generally agree that if there’s one product category that’s it’s worth investing a bit more of your skincare budget in, it’s the best face serums. And as if I didn’t have enough faith in Kate Somerville’s skincare products, this new serum has quickly become my favourite from her range.
Inspired by the hydrating facials that the woman herself gives in her Hollywood clinic, the formula employs AquaPort technology to hydrate skin both immediately and long-term. Naturally is also contains hyaluronic acid, famous for its ability to hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, to plump and hydrate the skin, along with a rosemary peptide complex to support the skin barrier. It feels like a dream, with an ever-so-slightly creamy texture that the skin absorbs with ease. I’d bathe in it if I could.
If you’re an avid follower of skincare TikTok then you’ll no doubt have seen this product, along with the Cicaplast Balm, while scrolling (my sister actually gasped when she saw I had them in my possession). The evidence is clear that people are loving the results that the soothing duo can achieve – which isn’t a great surprise, considering that La Roche-Posay is an incredibly researched, dermatologist-recommended skincare brand. The mist boasts all of the same hydrating, soothing and repairing properties as the balm, just in a lighter, sprayable format; we're talking hydrating and barrier-boosting madecassoside alongside soothing panthenol. There isn’t a skin type it won’t play well with, and it’s great for misting throughout the day if you’re a regular worker-from-home.
Another French pharmacy go-to for sensitive skin, Avène recently expanded its Tolerance range with this new hydrating and soothing moisturiser. It’s fuss-free and super gentle – gentle enough that it can be used on children or babies – so you can rely on it when your skin is acting out, and, according to research conducted by the brand, can hydrate skin for an impressive 48 hours. This fluid is best suited to combination or typically happy skin, while for drier skin types, there’s also a thicker cream edition on offer. Both are formulated without preservatives, so don’t chop the end of the packaging off in a bid to use up every last swatch, unless you’re using all of the dregs up straight away.
I go through this hand cream like no other. Sure, there are more luxurious feeling formulas and packaging, but this makes your hands so soft over time – and it’s often on sale for under a fiver. As with all CeraVe products, it contains the three essential ceramides to repair and support healthy skin barrier function, as well as a dose of hydrating hyaluronic acid. But on a more practical level, it sinks into the skin easily, isn’t super greasy, and softens up even the driest and most cracked pair of hands. What’s more, the little tube lasts for ages. It’s a big repeat purchase for me!
The best face masks are a great way to give your skin a hit of the good stuff. It's easy for skin to become dull and lacklustre in winter, but that all changes with this brilliant mask. It's absolutely packed with moisturising ingredients – namely glycerin, squalane and hyaluronic acid – as well as glow-boosting antioxidants and vitamin C, and leaves your skin looking plump and dewy and feeling super soft. The slightly runny balm texture is also really pleasing. This and a hot bath is my ideal Sunday afternoon in winter.
Everybody has a favourite lip balm and I’m not about to try and talk you out of loving yours. But if you want to give your lips a bit of extra TLC overnight, allow me to point you in the direction of this cult K-beauty product. It’s essentially soft lips in a tiny tub, packing hyaluronic acid, shea butter and antioxidants and providing a protective layer while you sleep to keep moisture in. There are now lots of different flavours to choose from – Lemon Sorbet, Chocolate, Grapefruit – but I’m a fan of the original. Dry, rough, cracked lips, be gone.
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Lucy is a freelance beauty editor and contributor at Marie Claire, and has written for titles including Glamour, Refinery29, Popsugar, woman&home and more. She was previously Marie Claire’s junior beauty editor. During her career, she’s covered everything from backstage beauty at fashion week to interviews with famous faces like Drag Race royalty and Little Mix. As for her beauty ethos, she’s a big advocate for not having to spend a fortune on beauty products to get good results, and when she’s not got beauty on the brain you’ll find her reading or hanging out with dogs.
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