There are so many reasons to love winter — cozy sweaters, roaring fires, good books — but it can do a number on our skin. Because there is naturally less moisture in the air during winter, skin can become dry, dull, and irritated. The good news? There are plenty of easy at-home solutions to help protect your skin during these trying months.
We spoke with 12 skincare experts around the South and asked them to share their essential tips and products for keeping your skin looking and feeling great through the season. Common themes included hydration (both inside and out), gentle exfoliation, and products that protect the skin barrier. Here’s the lowdown!
Britt Mims, R.N., Woods Aesthetics | Nashville, TN
“During the winter months, I take warm showers instead of hot ones since hot water can be really drying to your skin. Also, I make sure I regularly dermaplane and then follow up with a SkinCeuticals Biocellulose Mask. Together, both can help exfoliate and hydrate your skin.
My biggest winter product recommendation is SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 moisturizer. For many of my patients and me, it is a must-have for winter months. It’s super hydrating and feels great on your skin.”
Dr. Sarah Sawyer, Dermatology & Laser of Alabama | Birmingham, AL
“Exfoliation is essential for sloughing off the layer of dead skin that accumulates on the surface, making your complexion look dull and tired. Because the skin is more likely to become compromised in the winter, if you notice any dryness, redness, or irritation, dial back your use of actives (retinoids and exfoliants such as alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids). I often recommend Clear+Brilliant to fight early signs of aging with minimal downtime to improve skin tone, uneven pigmentation, and enlarged pores to visibly illuminate and brighten your complexion.
Focus on hydration from the inside out. Ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E will be your skin’s best friends — they help to nourish and strengthen your skin barrier. I also recommend using a soothing cleanser, followed by a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum like SkinCeuticals HA Intensifier. Finally, use an anti-aging cream such as SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore to lock in that moisture and protect the skin barrier.”
Mary Kathryn Hudson, Private Edition + The Cosmetic Market + Therapy Systems | Nashville, TN
“My favorite tips to revive winter skin are to exfoliate and hydrate. For exfoliation, I like to use the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads several nights a week. These are one of my all-time favorite skincare products. These pads are two-step. Step one gently but effectively exfoliates your skin with a blend of five different alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids to boost radiance, smooth fine lines, refine pores, and improve skin tone and texture. Step two neutralizes and hydrates while delivering anti-aging ingredients for smooth, even, balanced skin. Every time I use this product, my skin looks and performs better.
For hydration, I like to use the Caudalie Vinosource-Hydra Moisturizing Mask. I love to use this when my skin is feeling dry and dehydrated. I like to wash my face, then apply a thick layer of the mask and go to bed and sleep in it. When I wake up, my skin is glowing, my skin tone is even, and it feels deeply hydrated.”
Melissa Rhodes, Ona Skincare | Nashville, TN
“Add in omega-3 supplements (for example, fish oil) to help with internal hydration. Make sure not to take extra hot showers, even though it’s cold out, as this can really dry the skin out. Also, adding a hyaluronic acid serum to dampen skin can help draw moisture in. We have one called Ona Hydrate that also has peptides for anti-aging and wrinkle reduction — it’s great.
Lastly, winter is a great time to still exfoliate using something like the ZO Exfoliating Polish, which has vitamin E along with magnesium crystals to exfoliate and still leave the skin with some hydration. For severely wind-burned or dry skin, the CO2 lift mask can be used at home and uses carboxytherapy to push hydration and oxygen into the skin.”
The Team at The Spa at Rousso Adams | Birmingham, AL
“Be sure you wash your face and body with warm water instead of hot water. Also, skip the toner or use a hydrating toner such as PCA Skin’s Hydrating Toner, and add a quality hyaluronic acid to your regimen, such as SkinMedica’s HA5 or Revision’s Hydrating Serum. At night, trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) is accelerated in the skin, so make sure to use both your hyaluronic acid and cream moisturizer, such as Revision’s Firming Night Treatment, before you go to sleep.”
Robin Haney, Apropos Day Spa | Nashville, TN
“I always tell my clients they need to change their skincare wardrobe to accommodate the season, just like our clothing wardrobe. In the winter, just like with our clothing, layering on more targeted products will supplement the skin with antioxidants like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides, which are fatty acids that nourish and hydrate. Then, follow with a moisturizer and SPF. Yes, an SPF is required even in the winter! Use a tinted moisturizer — like Revision Intellishade and skip the foundation — or Jane Iredale Mineral Powder.
Also, lip balms with shea butter and jojoba oil nourish and hydrate the lips. They are much healthier for the skin on your lips than waxy balms or Vaseline. Apply throughout the day and especially before bed. A gentle lip scrub can be done once per week with brown sugar and coconut oil. Rub it gently over the lips for 30 seconds, then lick or rinse it off.”
Karee Hays, Karee Hays Esthetics | Nashville, TN
“As the weather changes, switch from foamy cleansers to creamy cleansers to prevent unnecessary drying and flakiness. After you put on your moisturizer and vitamin C in the morning, I like to seal it with an oil to lock in that extra moisture. My favorite right now is the Augustinus Bader Face Oil. And then I apply my sunscreen! Don’t skip this step in the winter.
As far as moisturizers go, look for ones with AHA — an ingredient that helps soothe the skin during these colder months. You may want to cut back on your retinoids to once or twice a week during the winter. Apply a pea-size [amount] on damp skin, or even switch to retinol, which is slightly gentler. I also love to use Glytone’s Exfoliating Body Wash in the shower a few times a week with a soft sponge to brush away those dead skin cells all over the body. And remember to add your balms! The heel and elbow cream by Glytone is my go-to for keeping those dry areas hydrated. Lastly, as we turn the heat up in our homes, we need some sort of humidifier to prevent dry skin. I love the Dyson Air Purifier Humidifier + Cool.”
Helen Hardy, ELAN Skin | Nashville, TN
“There are three simple things everyone can do to keep their skin fresh and glowy through the gloomy days of winter. The first is adding gentle exfoliation once a week to get rid of dead skin and build-up, revealing healthy, fresh skin underneath. I recommend ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Polish. Make it your Sunday ritual!
The second is to apply hydrating serums onto damp skin. My favorite is SkinCeuticals HA Intensifier. Hyaluronic acid is the star of the show in the winter and a magnet for moisture. When applied to damp skin, it grabs that extra hydration and takes it on the ride down into the deeper layer of your skin, giving you that plumped-up look we want. Try spritzing on Avène Thermal Spring Water before application. This can be done morning and night.
Lastly, humidifiers! In Tennessee, for better or worse, we’re blessed with humidity. But in the winter, that humidity disappears, and we’re stuck indoors with the heat cranked up. Keep the moisture in the air by using a humidifier in your bedroom at night and say goodnight and goodbye to dehydrated skin.”
Anna Oprisch, ElàMar | Nashville, TN
“The biggest concern with winter skin, even in the South, is dryness. There are a few simple things you can do to help combat that. If you are using a retinol/retinoid product, cut back to every other night, but DO NOT stop using the retinol. You can also add a heavy moisturizer for nighttime — and I mean heavy. My favorite is Revision Skincare’s Restorative Night Cream. Apply this last after your other nighttime products. Another tip is to reapply your daytime moisturizer at lunch! I like to have a thinner moisturizer, typically a serum, that can be applied and reapplied throughout the day.
Lastly, if you don’t already, consider adding a humidifier to your bedroom at night. Just remember to use purified or filtered water, so you aren’t vaporizing toxins into the air!”
Cheyanne Thurston, Face Foundrié | Multiple locations across the South
“Upgrade your moisturizer to something a bit heavier so it can lock in hydration — we love our Snooze Cruise Night Cream. We also highly recommend dermaplaning in the winter. It’s a form of exfoliation that removes the top layer of dead skin and peach fuzz! This reveals soft, fresh skin underneath and also allows for products to penetrate better so that Snooze Cruise will feel even more hydrating!
Lastly, don’t forget to hydrate from the inside out with water. Keep a water bottle with you all the time!”
Valerie Derrick, Woods Aesthetics | Nashville, TN
“In the winter months, we really need to add hydration into our skincare routine and then lock it into the skin. The most well-known hydrator is hyaluronic acid. The hydrator pulls moisture from the surrounding environment and draws it to the skin. A good moisturizer creates a barrier over the skin to trap in that needed moisture. I use Woods Aesthetics Glow Hydrating Serum, and then I put Woods Aesthetics Intensive Moisturizer on top of that.”
Anastacia Schwenk, Anastacia Aesthetics | Nashville, TN
“Winter weather can make our skin extra dry, making it even more important to add exfoliating AND hydrating products into your weekly/daily routine. There are two different techniques for exfoliation: manual and chemical. I refer treatment pads to patients for an at-home technique. This is an easy way to exfoliate the skin without overdoing it!
I’d suggest using RENEWED, our retexturizing pads (weekly and on clean skin), followed by QUARTZ, a hyaluronic acid, and MEGA for your moisturizer. These pads are formulated to gently and effectively remove the dry/damaged layer of skin to reveal the new, smooth skin beneath and give your skin that healthy glow. It’s important to hydrate and protect freshly exfoliated skin! For those that tend to be extra dry, our SKIN OIL is a blend of oil that repairs skin tissue and calms damaged skin with a blend of rich nourishing infusions of oil.”
Meet more inspiring experts around the South through our FACES series!