Updated 10/18/22. For many, winter means dry, flaky, red, and irritated skin. And if you think that applying an extra layer of moisturizer will fix everything, think again! The truth is you need to take a look at the products you’re using (or not using) and readjust your routine. In this post, I’ll share five of the most common winter skin mistakes I see people make. I’ll also share my expert solutions for each one. Let’s go!
The 5 Most Common Winter Skin Mistakes
1. Skipping Sunscreen
Many people don’t use sunscreen in the winter, because it’s cold and cloudy and they’re spending much of their time indoors. But did you know that UVA rays, the ones responsible for changing the DNA of your cells and causing premature lines and wrinkles, are close to the same strength in winter as they are in summer? To make matters worse, they can penetrate through clouds and windows, so your skin is still exposed to them even when you’re inside.
This is why it’s crucial to apply sunscreen every single day of the year—no matter how cold or cloudy it may be. After all, daylight is the number one cause of premature aging, which is why sunscreen is considered the absolute best anti-aging product out there.
Since UV rays can also interfere with skin barrier function, and prevent the skin from maintaining proper moisture levels, sunscreen is truly an essential part of anyone’s winter skincare routine. Make sure you’re applying it to any exposed skin, including the skin on your neck and chest (your neck is an extension of your face so don’t forget to protect this area, too).
2. Over-Moisturizing With the Wrong Formula
When your skin is dry and flaky, applying a thick layer of moisturizer will take care of it, right? Not so fast. Your skin is like a sponge in that it takes what it needs and the rest sits on top. It could be wasteful to apply an extra thick layer of moisturizer since your skin can only absorb so much. Instead, you need to apply a hydrating serum, like the Skin Drink Concentrate, underneath your moisturizer. This will help balance the water and oil content in your skin, keeping it happy and healthy-looking.
Another thing to consider is your moisturizer itself. Using the wrong one can cause clogged pores and breakouts, especially if you’re already prone to them (like Skin Types 1, 2, & 3). Often, these skin types require a lighter, more hydrating moisturizer, like the Sheer Moisture Lotion. It will give your skin the moisture it needs without causing problems.
Even if you don’t have oily, blemish-prone skin, it’s of the utmost importance to use the right moisturizer for your skin type. If you don’t know which one that is, take the Skin Type Quiz to find out. At the end of it, you’ll get personalized product recommendations to help take the guesswork out of building an effective routine.
3. Using the Same Skincare Routine All Year Long
Our skin is constantly changing. That’s especially true if it’s experiencing extreme temperature changes. You must make certain that you are using the right products to adapt to your skin’s changing needs. This might include switching from a gel-based face wash to a more gentle cleansing lotion. Or, incorporating face oil into your routine to prevent moisture evaporation. Basically, by making small, seasonal tweaks to your routine, you can better care for your skin’s needs. (Learn more about how to transition your skincare routine to winter.)
Also, don’t forget to increase your exfoliation. This may sound counterintuitive if your skin is getting drier, but trying to moisturize cells that are already dry and expired won’t get you very far. Exfoliate a few nights a week to get rid of dryness and reveal a smoother, healthier-looking texture.
4. Leaving Your Skin Bare for More Than 60 Seconds After Cleansing
Did you know you only have a 60-second window to seal in moisture after cleansing your skin? Otherwise, you risk severe dehydration. Since the air is so dry in the winter, it looks for water wherever it can get it and this means taking it from your skin at its most vulnerable time, which is post-cleanse.
Here’s what happens. When you wash your face, your skin is damp. The air acts like a magnet, attracting water out from the deepest layers of the skin and evaporating into the dry air. This causes your skin to become tight and dehydrated, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
The solution for this is simple. All you have to do is apply your next product within 60 seconds of washing your face. I call this the Golden Minute Rule, and it’s one of the easiest ways to care for your skin! I promise this will help keep your moist and hydrated.
5. Licking Your Lips
The cold winter air affects the skin on your lips just like it affects the skin on your face. Over time, it can cause your lips to become dry and flaky. When this happens, licking your lips may provide temporary relief, but it can actually make them even drier since the air will cause the moisture to evaporate out of deeper layers of the skin. To make matters worse, there are digestive enzymes in saliva that can break down the skin and cause dryness and cracks.
The solution to dry, cracked lips is to use a well-formulated, conditioning lip balm throughout the day. Easy, right? Even if you still feel the urge to lick your lips, the balm will provide a barrier of protection to keep moisture sealed in. I recommend avoiding lip balms that contain menthol, as these could be too irritating to your lips, especially if they’re already dry.
There you have it! These are the five most common winter skin mistakes I see people make. I hope this post helps you achieve the smooth, bright, and calm skin you want this winter!
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skin care expert has created a real-world solution — products that are formulated for nine different types of skin so your face will get exactly what it needs to look and feel its best. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”