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15 best winter skin care products, according to a dermatologist

How to cure cracked and itchy skin this season

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If your skin hasn’t already warned you: Winter is here.

We’re all too familiar with the skin symptoms that show up as the seasons switch. Chapped lips, cracked hands and itchy skin come back like reliable perennials with the first snowfall.

But this year, to help us fight back, dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman stopped by TODAY to offer fixes for every kind of winter skin woe this year. Whether you have extremely dry skin after a shower or your eczema is getting worse, these are products you can get without going outside and braving the cold.

In a recent segment, Dr. Angela Lamb also told TODAY that you should switch up your technique for the seasons. Generally, Lamb advised, you should wash your face with warm as opposed to hot water this time of year.

You can cut back exfoliation to about twice a month instead of once a week. Because the skin is more parched in the winter, “the barrier tends to be more fragile,” Lamb said. “We don't want to do anything to overdry.” And no matter what the season is, you should be using at least SPF 30 on your face daily.

Discover Engelman's fixes for a range of skin care issues below, plus Lamb's recommendations for a few winter essentials.

If you have "maskne" but retinoids are drying out your skin

Indeed Laboratories Bakuchiol Reface Pads

Bokuchiol is a natural plant-based alternative to retinol that is said to help with increasing skin cell turnover and restoring skin elasticity. These face pads from Indeed have been clinically proven to be effective in reducing acne, according to the brand. And they're gentle enough to be used day and night.

If your atopic dermatitis (eczema) is getting worse from increased hand-washing

Power Mist Aloe Vera

Hand sanitizer became a new staple item in 2020, so it might be worth investing in something that's good for you in more ways than one, like this hydrating sanitizer mist with aloe vera.

If you're using lotion, but your hands and heels are still cracking

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

"You don’t wear the same clothes in the summer and winter so why should your products be the same?" Engelman asked. Great question. She suggests this drugstore find for a hydration that the brand says lasts 24 hours. You can also put it on and add gloves and socks over your hands and feet before going to bed to really lock in moisture.

If you have have painfully dry skin after a shower

Jergens Enriching Shea Butter Body Wash

"Turn that heat down!" Engelman said. "Hot water breaks up oils so it can really mess with your skin barrier. In addition to keeping water lukewarm and shortening shower time, look for a moisturizing body wash." This body was is infused with shea butter oil and is dermatologist tested.

Bio-Oil Skincare Oil

And after you step out of your shower, you can massage this oil into your skin for extra hydration.

If your scalp is really itchy

Jack Black Nourishing Hair and Scalp Conditioner

Increased dandruff and itchy scalp is not abnormal during the winter season. Those who sport shorter hair are more likely to experience this since shorter locks means less protection for wind, snow and dry air. This gender-neutral product has green tea, jojoba oil and silk proteins to help soothe your scalp. Just apply and leave it on for five to 10 minutes before rinsing.

If you have dry, puffy eyes in the winter

SkinMedica Instant Bright Eye Mask

If you're experiencing under-eye skin dullness and dark circles because of heat or stress, Engelman recommends this splurge. These patches are cooling help depuff eyes for brightness. "Pop them on 10 minutes before your next Zoom, and no one will be the wiser," Engelman said.

If your humidifier is helping dry air but causing mold

Canopy Humidifier

If you're inside all the time and the heat is on, dry air or air quality can be a concern. This portable humidifier has no-mist technology that helps provide clean, filtered moisture free of bacteria and particles. It also has technology and embedded UV LEDs that are said to keep mold from growing.

More winter skin care essentials

Kinship Naked Papaya Gentle Enzyme Face Cleanser

For winter, Dr. Angela Lamb recommends a face cleanser that cleans without stripping the skin. This incredibly hydrating cleanser feels like creamy yogurt in your hands and smells like a tropical fruit smoothie on your skin. It’s made with exclusively clean, plant-based ingredients like papaya, jojoba oil, sunflower oil and Kinbiome, a plant-based probiotic.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Wash AP+ Moisturizing Wash

La Roche-Posay is a French cult classic for a reason. This fragrance-free powerhouse simply gets the tough jobs done. The no-frills formula provides soothing, 24-hour hydration as it cleans both your face and body. And although it packs a moisturizing punch, this wash is gentle enough to use every day on sensitive skin.

No7 HydraLuminous Water Surge Gel

This hydrating gel is especially useful for those who live in cities. Its “Pollution Shield Technology” helps create a barrier against particles like smog, sun and dust that can damage skin. This oil-free formula is made with an antioxidant blend of vitamin C, mulberry and vitamin E and can moisturize skin for up to 72 hours.

Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream

“Switch to a thicker moisturizer that will trap the moisture onto your skin and keep it from evaporating off of your skin surface,” Lamb said. This thick cream is perfect for people with sensitive skin because it’s completely free of dyes, fragrance and parabens. Although it’s gentle, it can fight the toughest battles against red, cracked or itchy winter skin.

Aveeno Cracked Skin Relief CICA Balm

Hands and feet can take a beating in the winter. Lamb recommends bumping up your lotion application to several times per day to keep them smooth. This gentle balm is great for both dry and sensitive skin, providing instant relief to anywhere that’s cracked or chapped. Plus, it’s fragrance-free so it will never interfere with the rest of your routine.

Sunday Forever Le' Coco Coconut Lip Balm

If your biggest winter skin complaint is dry and chapped lips, Lamb recommends Sunday Forever’s coconut lip balm. The cruelty-free concoction is made from all-natural ingredients like coconut, beeswax, organic shea butter, organic cocoa butter and vitamin E. And the scent is so luscious, you’ll want to keep one in your bag, one next to your bed and maybe even one on your desk for mid-day refreshes.

Editor's note: This pick is now sold out, but we found similar top-rated options below.

Jergens Ultra Healing Body Balm

When your skin is ultra dry, opt for ultra healing. This body balm, which Lamb recommends especially for your feet, forms an additional layer on the skin, helping to lock in moisture and provide both instant and long-lasting relief. The formula is made with vitamins C, E and B5, plus plant proteins that boost the skin’s natural ability to hold moisture.

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This article was originally published on Dec. 16, 2020.