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Winter is officially underway, and chilling temperatures are here to remind you. By now, you're probably tackling dry skin, chapped lips and itchy scalps. These skin care woes might be the bane of your existence during this frigid time, but Shop TODAY is right there with you.
TODAY tapped board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry to share some tips, tricks and products for combating dry skin this winter. From shampoo to a foot peel, these picks can help keep you moisturized from head to toe, literally. We also consulted other top dermatologists to help you get through the rest of the season, and we break down their wintertime skin care recommendations by category below.
From lip balms and hand creams to facial cleansers, body oils and scalp scrubs, these products will help you make it through the rest of this cold stretch and remedy any skin care problems you might encounter.
- Winter skin care seen on TODAY
- Winter skin care for your lips
- Winter skin care for your body
- Winter skin care for your face
- Winter skin care for your hands
- Winter skin care for your scalp
Winter skin care seen on TODAY
Henry recommends using a cream-based moisturizer for cleansing both your body and face during the winter. When choosing a cleanser, she suggests picking products that are fragrance free and gentle for the skin. This cleanser from CeraVe is a gentle cleansing lotion that is packed with skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides and glycerin.
Another cleanser that Henry recommends is this face wash from La Roche-Posay, which is suitable for normal to dry sensitive skin. It's infused with prebiotic thermal water, ceramide-3 and glycerin and can even be used to remove face and eye makeup.
When it comes to your body, a moisturizing wash like this one from Dove can do the trick. Henry says she also likes the bar version for dry skin.
Henry says focusing on building your skin barrier with hydrating ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, squalane and glycerin is also key during this time of year. She loves this serum from L'Oreal, which features a high concentration of hyaluronic acid but won't break the bank.
This is another hyaluronic acid-packed pick that Henry recommends. It is also formulated with aloe and, according to the brand, provides 100 hours of hydration.
If you prefer fragrance-free moisturizers, this cream from Kiehl's is rich and also safe for sensitive skin. It's formulated with squalane, glacial glycoprotein and glycerin to help hydrate skin.
If you want overnight hydration, Henry says a humidifier can help. When you keep the humidity at an ideal level (about 40-60%), the humidifier can also help protect and restore your skin. She loves this model from Canopy since it can fit right on your nightstand and uses a special technology to prevent it from spreading allergy-triggering particles. You can also add essential oils to the mix for an aromatherapy effect.
Pure Enrichment's humidifier is another model Henry recommends for its ultrasonic capabilities. It's a bestseller that can run for up to 25 hours at a time.
When it comes to your post-shower routine, there's one thing you might not be doing — applying your moisturizer while your skin is still wet. Henry says applying your moisturizer while your skin is still damp will help prevent it from drying out, since it will seal moisture into skin. Curel's moisturizer is designed to be applied to wet skin and lock in moisture.
Cantu is another brand that Henry recommends when it comes to moisturizers, since their lotions are packed with moisture-enhancing ingredients such as shea butter and mango butter.
La Roche-Posay's Lipikar Balm is formulated with prebiotoics that promote the skin's microbiome, which Henry says makes it "great for eczema-prone skin." Other standout ingredients include shea butter, glycerin and niacinamide.
For deeper hydration, Henry recommends layering your moisturizer with an ointment like Aquaphor. It can also be used to hydrate chapped lips.
When it comes to your pout, Henry says you should always carry a lip balm with you. "Lips do not have oil glands and are very susceptible to dehydration," she said. Lip balms are often affordable and provide relief and hydration to parched lips almost instantly. Investing in lip scrubs and lip masks can also help get rid of dry skin.
Just because you're tucking your feet away into boots and sneakers around this time of year doesn't mean you should forget about them. Your feet can become dry and crack when it gets cold out, and Henry says exfoliating often and using an effective moisturizer can only go so far to help. She loves foot peels, since they help slough off layers of dry, dead skin and leave you with feet that are "baby-soft."
Just like with your feet, exfoliating can help remove dead and dry skin on your body, as well as remove product residue like thick creams and lotions. Henry loves this brown sugar scrub from Fresh since it helps to exfoliate without damaging the skin and is made with jojoba oil.
Henry used the Buf-Puf as a young girl and says it remains a favorite to this day. You can use it up to twice a day while you shower.
Don't leave your locks out of the picture! The right products can help protect your hair from breakage as a result of dry winter air. Henry loves using Olaplex No. 3 as a pre-shampoo treatment during the winter.
After shampooing, Henry loves using Olaplex No. 5 as a conditioner. It helps to repair hair and add some shine.
While they're known for their bath bombs, Lush also makes a great conditioner, according to Henry.
Oils can also help your hair beat winter woes. Moroccanoil's argan oil is one Henry recommends.
Winter skin care for your lips
Just like facial skin, the skin on your lips needs regular exfoliation to stay smooth, especially during the cooler months. "I tell my clients to exfoliate their lips two to three times a week and apply a lip balm constantly," celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar explained.
The skin care pro likes that it contains hydrating shea butter, vitamin E and a fine sugar crystal that dissolves into a lip balm as it exfoliates.
Lips often get dry and chapped in the winter months — and for a good reason. "Our lips naturally do not have sebaceous (oil) glands, so unlike most skin on the rest of the body, they can't produce the protective oils to keep themselves moisturized," Dr. Tiffany Libby told Shop TODAY.
The New York-based dermatologist swears by this lip balm that is formulated with shea butter, hyaluronic acid and jojoba oil. She also said it keeps her pucker hydrated for hours on end.
Wind and indoor heating can dry out your lips a lot, so we tend to primarily focus on moisturizing our lips in winter. However, protecting them against the sun year-round is just as important! "Lips experience the same ultraviolet damage as the surrounding face. UV damaged lips over time look smaller, less well defined and scaly, and can be prone to skin cancer," Dr. Robert Anolik, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, said.
The dermatologist suggests looking for a lip balm with sunscreen like this fragrant one from Sun Bum. "It offers sun protection and the soothing benefits of coconut," he said.
Winter skin care for your body
Who doesn’t love a hot shower when it’s cold? Sadly, scalding hot water isn't great for your skin and can dry it out in a jiffy. "Stripping the skin of its natural moisture barrier can lead to uncomfortable dry itchy skin," Aguilar said.
If you simply can't give up warm (not scalding!) water, Aguilar says creating an artificial barrier for your skin can help. "Lather this grapeseed oil all over your body prior to jumping in the shower. Avoid applying it to your feet to prevent a slippery surface. Then follow with a hydrating body wash such as a creamy or oil cleanser," she said.
Libby says the key to hydrated skin is ceramides, and this lotion has plenty of them. "Ceramides are the natural lipids that help our skin barrier stay intact and healthy and allow it to hold onto moisture," she said. "This is my favorite wintertime body product."
The affordable lotion offers intensive hydration to dry skin with the help of ceramides and powerful humectants like glycerin and vitamins B5 and E. "It absorbs quickly into the skin and instantly leaves skin feeling soft and hydrated," the dermatologist raved.
Dry skin requires regular attention but reapplying lotion isn't always practical. Luckily, this moisturizer provides 24-hour hydration and a gentle, non-irritating formula. "This cream not only hydrates but also restores the skin barrier with hyaluronic acid and three essential ceramides," Dr. Sejal Shah of New York City's SmarterSkin Dermatology told us.
The best part? It's perfect for both the face and body. "While I do love it for the body, it is noncomedogenic and oil-free so it can even be used on the face," Shah said.
Winter skin care for your face
Adjusting your face wash when the temperature drops isn't a bad idea, especially because winter skin is a lot more sensitive. "Winter is a season to switch to gentler, more hydrating cleansers to avoid stripping away natural oils that are essential for your skin’s health," Libby said.
She often recommends Cetaphil's Gentle Cleanser as a daily cleanser and suggests cutting back on harsher exfoliating options during the drier winter months. "This gentle, soap-free cleanser was developed specifically for sensitive skin types and hydrates skin as it cleanses," she said.
Cold, dry air and indoor heat tend to sap skin of essential moisture but adding a hydrating nightly serum into your routine can make a big difference. Avène's Rehydrating Serum lends skin 24-hour hydration and targets skin cells to lock in moisture.
"This intensely hydrating serum contains a lipid trio that helps restore the skin barrier and prevent future water loss," Shah said.
Skin repairs itself overnight, so hydrating with a rich moisturizer in the wintertime is a pretty important step of your bedtime routine. Luckily, Aveeno's Absolutely Ageless Restorative Night Cream maintains skin's firmness, boosts elasticity and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The night cream is chock-full of vitamins C and E and an antioxidant-rich blackberry complex. "It's a non-greasy yet rich and hydrating product," Anolik said.
Winter skin care for your hands
While regularly washing your hands during a pandemic is a good thing, it can still do a number on your skin. Anolik recommends opting for an ointment-style cream. "This hydrating cream from Neutrogena feels like an ointment, but is also light enough to rub in before heading out for the day without leaving your hands feeling greasy," he said.
The moisturizing lotion works its magic with the help of glycerin and tackles dry, rough skin with ease. The 2-ounce tube might seem small, but a little dab goes a long way, and the results last quite a while.
There's dry skin and then there's really dry, cracked skin — and the latter is pretty common in winter. Aquaphor's healing ointment is designed for sensitive skin and is formulated with 41% petrolatum, which helps to gently heal cracks and dry spots. It's free of fragrances, preservatives and dyes and can be used on multiple areas, including hands, feet and lips.
"It's a thicker product that's well-suited for dry hands, especially in the evening, and enriched with soothing lanolin for further hydration," Anolik said.
“Not surprisingly, exposed areas are the hardest hit in winter, which when compounded by the wash/dry cycle of hand washing, means hands get wrecked in winter,” Dr. Bobby Buka, co-founder of The Dermatology Specialists, which is based in New York City.
The dermatologist swears by this intensely hydrating cream from First Aid Beauty that can be used on both the face and body. This rich moisturizer offers long-lasting hydration with the help of shea butter and soothes tired skin with the help of colloidal oatmeal and allantoin.
Winter skin care for your scalp
“You may be the last to notice this one, but come winter, our office [gets] tons of patients saying, ‘my wife/partner/hairdresser says I’m shedding skin,'" Buka said. "Mild itching and flakes usually result from the sudden dehydration that accompanies rapid temperature drops.”
Buka recommends using this hydrating and calming skin and scalp oil that's blended with 100mg CBD oil, soothing arnica flower extra and hemp.
You might not think your scalp needs exfoliation, but it does, especially when dandruff and dry skin build up in the winter. This vegan scalp scrub tackles buildup and oil with ease and leaves hair feeling clear and nourished.
"It's packed with salicylic acid and assists in the breakdown of dry scales on the scalp," Anolik said. Other star ingredients include exfoliating Ecuadorian Ivory Palm Seed Powder and mineral-rich kaolin clay.
For more stories like this, check out:
- This underrated ingredient is key for glowy and supple skin, according to dermatologists
- 6 ways to solve chapped lips, cracked feet and other common fall beauty issues
- What are ceramides? Skin care experts explain why you probably need them
This article was originally published on Feb. 12, 2021.