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These head-to-toe skin care products are ideal for winter, and they’re recommended by dermatologists

Frigid weather is tough on your skin, but these products will get you through the season.
Woman applying moisture cream on her face, while looking in mirror
Sergey Mironov / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Winter is officially in full swing, meaning chilling temperatures have become the norm. Dry skin, chapped lips and itchy scalps are likely the bane of your existence during this frigid time, but it doesn't have to be like that, thanks to the best winter skin care products on the market.

Shop TODAY tapped several board-certified dermatologists to share winter skin care "plans" that will help you soothe these skin care woes as fast as possible. From your hair to your toes and everything in between, the pros have protective and budget-friendly picks to help you endure this cold stretch and remedy any skin care problems you might encounter.

Winter skin care for your hands | Winter skin care for your face | Winter skin care for your lips | Winter skin care for your body | Winter skin care for your scalp | FAQ | How we chose | Meet the experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Winter skin care products

Winter skin care for your hands

If you've been washing your hands frequently (as you should!), you're probably looking for a few tips and tricks for preventing them from becoming dry and cracked. Luckily, the pros were nice enough to share the following insider knowledge with us.

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Debra Wattenberg suggests using a moisturizing cleanser and drying your hands with a paper towel rather than an air dryer, and then following up with a cream-based moisturizer immediately after drying.

While you're outside, Wattenberg recommends wearing gloves to keep your hands protected. And whether you're cleaning indoors, watching TV or sleeping, Wattenberg also suggests wearing cotton gloves after applying a rich ointment.

If your hands can get inflamed or cracked in the winter, Wattenberg says you can apply an over-the-counter cortisone for a few days then a creamy moisturizer.

While regularly washing your hands is a good thing, it can still do a number on your skin. Dr. Robert Anolik, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, recommends opting for an ointment-style cream to help counter the drying effects of cleanser.

Below are a few products the pros recommend to keep your hands moisturized this season.

Dove Deep Moisture Hand Wash

What we like
  • The bottle lasts a while
Something to note
  • The pump can be tricky

Active ingredients: Glycerin | Formulation: Gel wash  | Best for: Dry hands 

Wattenberg enjoys this hand wash that's made with a gentle formulation of cleansers, as well as a combination of skin nutrients and moisturizers that help keep your hands soft and hydrated.

Aveeno Repairing CICA Hand Mask

What we like
  • Easy to use
  • Very hydrating
  • Pleasant smell
Something to note
  • "Temporary" results

Active ingredients: Glycerin, petrolatum | Formulation: Glove mask | Best for: Dry hands 

Aveeno says this CICA mask, which “comes from the French word ‘cicatrisation,’” per the brand, is formulated to provide intense nourishment to your hands and help balance your skin’s natural barrier. No wonder Wattenberg is a fan.

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

What we like
  • Recommended by dermatologists
  • "Great for winter"
Something to note
  • Can feel "sticky"

Active ingredients: Glycerin | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Dry skin 

“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,” Anolik says.

Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream

What we like
  • Doesn't feel greasy
  • Very moisturizing
Something to note
  • You have to "reapply"

Active ingredients: Glycerin, lactic acid | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Dry skin 

This drugstore find has Wattenberg’s approval. It’s fragrance-free, gentle enough for daily use and, according to the brand, provides enough moisture to last 48 hours.

NatraCure Moisturizing Gel Gloves

What we like
  • They work quickly
Something to note
  • Can be difficult to get on and off

Active ingredients: Gel lining | Formulation: Glove | Best for: Dry hands 

Looking for an overnight solution? These gloves that Wattenberg adores can be worn up to three times per week to help lock in moisture. The brand also says the gloves are enriched with jojoba oil, mineral oil and olive oil to help make your skin softer.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment For Dry & Cracked Skin

What we like
  • Free of fragrances, preservatives and dyes
  • Can be used in multiple areas
Something to note
  • Can feel greasy

Active ingredients: Petrolatum | Formulation: Ointment | Best for: Dry/sensitive skin

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 formulated with 41% petrolatum, which helps to gently heal cracks and dry spots.

“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 says.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration

What we like
  • Offers "long-lasting" hydration
  • Isn't greasy
Something to note
  • A bit "too rich" 

Active ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Dry skin 

“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, says.

The dermatologist swears by this intensely hydrating cream from First Aid Beauty that can be used on both the face and body.

Winter skin care for your face

Dealing with breakouts? Masks and scarves can exacerbate acne, so the pros recommend making a few adjustments to your skin care routine.

During this time of year, Wattenberg and Anolik tell their clients to cut back on products formulated with drying ingredients such as retinol, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, alcohol and salicylic acid.

Instead, Anolik and Wattenberg suggest adding products to your routine that include hyaluronic acid and other hydrating agents. "Moisturize with heavier products than used in summer as needed. Often this involves creams from jars instead of lotions that come out of pumps," Anolik says.

Wattenberg says the skin cycling method — which involves alternating your products to help avoid drying and inflammation and keep your skin hydrated and looking fresh — is effective for winter. "Specifically limit drying products like retinol, salicylic acid and glycolic acid. Use these one nights a week, then a moisturizer and then a hydrating serum and moisturizer. Every night addresses a different skin issue," she says.

Adjusting your face wash when the temperature drops isn’t a bad idea, either, especially because winter skin can be 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,”  Dr. Tiffany Libby says.

Dr. Dendy Engelman notes how important it is to keep the skin protected from the sun, too... "even in the winter!" She suggests wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 during the day. 

Below are a few products the pros recommend to keep your facial skin moisturized this season.

Bio-Oil Dry Skin Gel

What we like
  • Over 12,000 five-star ratings
  • Super moisturizing
Something to note
  • Can feel greasy

Active ingredients: Lactic acid, glycerin | Formulation: Gel | Best for: Normal skin types

While you may be bundling up with scarves, gloves and more to keep warm, your face will likely be exposed to the harsh winter winds and temperatures.

To help lock moisture in, Engelman suggests switching to a thicker face product like this dry skin gel from Bio-Oil, which is made from oils and humectants that hydrate the skin (it can also be used on your lips and cuticles).

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

What we like
  • Leaves skin feeling "soft"
  • Cleanses well
Something to note
  • Doesn't lather

Active ingredients: Glycerin  | Formulation: Liquid cleanser | Best for: Dry, normal, sensitive skin

Libby often recommends Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleanser as a daily cleanser and suggests cutting back on harsher exfoliating options during the drier winter months.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

What we like
  • Over 88,000 five-star ratings
  • Gentle
Something to note
  • Doesn't always lather well

Active ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid | Formulation: Cream cleanser | Best for: Normal, dry skin

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry recommends using this 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.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser

What we like
  • Fragrance-free
  • Good for sensitive skin
Something to note
  • Doesn't lather easily

Active ingredients: Ceramides, glycerin, niacinamide | Formulation: Cream cleanser | Best for: Normal, dry, sensitive skin

Henry recommends this face wash from La Roche-Posay that's infused with prebiotic thermal water, ceramide-3 and glycerin. It can even be used to remove face and eye makeup.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+

What we like
  • Dries quickly
  • Thick formula
Something to note
  • Pump doesn't always work

Active ingredients: Shea butter, glycerin and niacinamide | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Sensitive, dry

La Roche-Posay’s Lipikar Balm is formulated with prebiotics that promote the skin’s microbiome, which Henry says makes it “great for eczema-prone skin.”

L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid Serum

What we like
  • High percentage of hyaluronic acid
  • Doesn't feel greasy
Something to note
  • Small bottle

Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin | Formulation: Serum | Best for: Oily, normal, sensitive, dry, combination

Henry loves this serum from L’Oreal and 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.

Clinique Moisture Surge

What we like
  • Paraben- and phthalate-free 
Something to note
  • Moisturizer tends to pill

Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid complex, aloe bio-ferment, blend of vitamins C and E | Formulation: Gel-cream | Best for: Normal, dry, combination and oily

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.

Winter skin care for your lips

Wattenberg suggests preventing chapped lips by applying your favorite lip balm before lips dry out. Also, it may be hard, but Anolik says it's best to limit licking, biting or picking your lips. 

Make sure your lip balm has an SPF, even in the winter time. “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,” Anolik said.

Celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar suggests exfoliating regularly in winter: "I tell my clients to exfoliate their lips two to three times a week and apply a lip balm constantly,” she says.

It's also important to avoid irritating lip products that include fragrance or salicylic acid and opt for ingredients like shea butter, petrolatum and mineral oil. "Too often, people feel that a stinging or tingling sensation means the product is working but more often than not it’s just irritation and this could be a worsening lip condition," Anolik says.

"Examples of potentially irritating ingredients include things like fragrance or salicylic acid."

Sun Bum Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 30

What we like
  • You can't beat the price
Something to note
  • Some reviewers say it's a bit greasy

Active ingredients: Avobenzone | Formulation: Balm | Best for: All lips

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!

Anolik 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 says.

Flower Beauty Petal Pout Lip Scrub

What we like
  • Leaves lips "ultra soft"
Something to note
  • It's a rather small container

Active ingredients: Coconut oil, castor seed oil and cocoa butter | Formulation: Scrub | Best for: Dry lips

Engelman says there are less oil glands on your lips than the rest of your body, which makes them more susceptible to dryness. She recommends using this lip scrub to remove dry skin and hydrate your lips during the colder months, since it is made with “nutrient-rich” oils.

It Cosmetics Je Ne Sais Quoi Hydrating Lip Balm Treatment

What we like
  • Adds color
Something to note
  • Needs to be reapplied 

Active ingredients: Shea butter, castor seed oil | Formulation: Balm | Best for: Dry lips

Libby says lips often get dry and chapped in the winter months because "they can’t produce the protective oils to keep themselves moisturized.” She swears by this lip balm that keeps her pucker hydrated for hours on end.

Winter skin care for your body

Facial skin typically gets all the attention, but your body skin also needs a bit of TLC during the coldest months of the year.

The best time to apply your moisturizer, according to Wattenberg? Right after you get out of the shower. Opt for moisturizers that contain ingredients like ammonium lactate or hyaluronic acid, and avoid those with fragrances. Wattenberg Also suggests applying moisturizer twice a day in the winter if you can.

Anolik suggests keeping your showers short (five to 10 minutes) and using lukewarm rather than hot water. "Although the hot water may feel nice on cold days, it is actually worsening your skin barrier, making dryness even worse in the long run," he says. And if your legs are extra dry, Anolik suggests using an ointment-based moisturizer (like petroleum jelly) while sleeping at night.

Anolik tells his clients to use cleansers as opposed to soaps while bathing. "True soaps don't help with the pH balance for the body and they strip oils that hydrate the skin," he says. Anolik also suggests avoiding hand towels, loofahs, and other scrubbing tools in the shower since they can irritate the skin barrier, and ultimately lead to further dryness.

Engelman is a fan of moisturizing body wash during the winter, especially if you have dry skin. "I like to do the 'soak and grease' method post-shower. While your skin is still damp, apply a body oil or body lotion to lock in more moisture," she says.

Below are a few products the pros recommend to keep your body skin moisturized this season.

Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash

What we like
  • Good for sensitive skin
  • Works for 24 hours
Something to note
  • Has a fragrance 

Active ingredients: Glycerin | Formulation: Liquid | Best for: Mature, normal, sensitive, dry, combination skin

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.

Cetaphil Healing Ointment

What we like
  • Hydrates skin for 48 hours
Something to note
  • Unscented

Active ingredients: Shea butter, vitamin E and petrolatum | Formulation: Ointment | Best for: Dry, sensitive skin

If you’ve ever felt like the skin on your elbows or knees “belong on a lizard and not your body,” Engelman says you should try this ointment. It is fragrance-free and formulated with skin-loving ingredients that can help soothe and heal dry skin.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream

What we like
  • Reasonable price
Something to note
  • Can feel watery

Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin | Formulation: Gel-cream | Best for: Combination, dry, normal

Prefer a lighter feel? Try this gel cream that Wattenberg recommends. Since it’s made with hyaluronic acid, the brand says it helps to hydrate the skin and retain moisture.

Now Solutions Grapeseed Oil

What we like
  • Is multitasking 
Something to note
  • Some reviewers don't love the scent

Active ingredients: Grape seed oil | Formulation:  Oil | Best for: All skin types

If you simply can’t give up warm (not scalding!) water in the shower, 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.

Gold Bond Age Renew Retinol Overnight Body & Face Lotion

What we like
  • Affordable product
Something to note
  • Contains retinol

Active ingredients: Shea butter, glycerin | Formulation: Lotion | Best for: Mature, dry, normal skin

You’re likely familiar with retinol’s anti-aging benefits for your face, but how about the benefits it has on your body? Engelman suggests using this overnight lotion to treat “crepey” or sagging skin all over. It is made with an exfoliating retinol peptide complex that Engelman says supports the skin’s renewal process.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

What we like
  • Perfect for face and body
Something to note
  • Not the best packaging

Active ingredients: Ceramides, hyaluronic acid | Formulation: Cream | Best for: Sensitive, dry

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,” Shah tells us.

Cetaphil Intensive Healing Lotion

What we like
  • Absorbs quickly
Something to note
  • Pump sometimes hard to use

Active ingredients: Glycerin, vitamins B5 and E | Formulation: Lotion | Best for: Sensitive skin

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 says. “This is my favorite wintertime body product.”

Grove Moisturizing Shave Bar

What we like
  • Sustainable
Something to note
  • Doesn't foam

Active ingredients: Jojoba seed oil and snow mushroom extract | Formulation: Bar | Best for: All skin types

The key to preventing your skin from getting dry? Taking shorter showers, according to Engelman. To help cut down on an often time-consuming part of your shower routine, she suggests using this shave bar, which is made with ingredients that moisturize the skin and help reduce redness and irritation.

Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish Exfoliator

What we like
  • Isn't drying
Something to note
  • The price is high

Active ingredients: Evening primrose, sweet almond, apricot kernel, and jojoba oils | Formulation: Scrub | Best for: All skin types

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 exfoliate without damaging the skin and is made with jojoba oil.

Winter skin care for your scalp

Many of us deal with a dry, itchy scalp during this time of year. But you can fight back! Here are some tips from the pros.

During the winter, Engelman says there is less moisture in the air, which can strip the scalp of its natural oils. "Those natural oils are essential for moisturizing the skin, keeping out harmful toxins, and preventing flaking — so it is important to show the scalp some extra care during the colder months," she says.

She recommends using a moisturizing pre-shampoo treatment or post-wash mask to add moisture back to the scalp and hair.

Anolik recommends seeing a dermatologist if your dry scalp moves past the manageable stage because it can often be a sign of an underlying skin conditions like dandruff and psoriasis.

Below are a few products the pros recommend to keep your scalp moisturized this season.

Dove Beauty DermaCare Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

What we like
  • Multitasking formula
Something to note
  • Not the best for super dry hair

Active ingredients: Pyrithione zinc | Formulation: Liquid | Best for: Dandruff, dry scalps

Opting for an anti-dandruff shampoo like this Dove pick can help to alleviate dandruff and reduce symptoms of a dry, itchy scalp. Plus, Engelman says it has a mild, pH-balanced formula that is gentle on hair.

Head and Shoulders Classic Clean Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

What we like
  • Great price
Something to note
  • Best for short hair, per some reviewers

Active ingredients: Pyrithione zinc | Formulation: Liquid | Best for: Dandruff, dry scalps

This tried-and-true brand is another pick Wattenberg says can help prevent a dry, itchy scalp this winter. With regular use, the brand says it can help relieve itchiness, dryness and reduce visible dandruff flakes.

Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector

What we like
  • A "miracle worker"
Something to note
  • High price point

Active ingredients: Bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate | Formulation: Liquid | Best for: Coily, curly, straight and wavy hair

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.

Moroccanoil Pure Argan Oil

What we like
  • Can also hydrate skin and nails
Something to note
  • A bit of a splurge

Active ingredients: Argan Oil | Formulation: Oil | Best for: Straight, wavy, curly and coily hair

Oils can also help your hair beat winter woes. Moroccanoil’s argan oil is one Henry recommends.

How we chose these skin care picks

These winter skin care picks were based on expert insights and recommendations. The list includes a variety of products for every skin type and budget, with options for hands, lips, face, body and scalps.

Meet the experts

  • Natalie Aguilar is a celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse.
  • Dr. Robert Anolik, MDis a board-certified dermatologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. He specializes in cosmetic dermatology and laser skin surgery.
  • Dr. Bobby Buka is the co-founder of The Dermatology Specialists (TDS), a dermatology practice located in New York City.
  • Dr. Dendy Engelman is a board certified dermatologic surgeon at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue in New York City. 
  • Dr. Michelle Henry is a board-certified dermatologist, dermatologic surgeon, speaker, trainer, and author.
  • Dr. Tiffany Libby is a Mohs surgeon and double board-certified cosmetic and laser dermatologist.
  • Dr. Debra Wattenberg, MDis a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and founder of NY Skin RX.