As we all know cold weather (especially the subzero weather Chicago experiences) can be absolute murder on your skin. While I’m not an esthetician, I have long since been obsessed with makeup and skincare, having worked freelance beauty at department stores, had a few brief holiday stints at Sephora and even have done makeup for friends’ weddings. I will never forget one of my first winters in Chicago when it was so cold that I would put a full layer of oil on my skin yet I still woke up with flaky, dry skin. Desperate, I went to the counters of Nordstrom where I was introduced to Laura Mercier’s hydrating mask (sadly they no longer make this exact product). What nights of generic “face oil” couldn’t achieve, this high quality hydrating mask did for me in no time and I could not believe the difference in my skin. So this year, at the top of my holiday list were quality skin care products. While I personally have dry to combination skin, I’m often asked by friends for recommendations for all skin types. Thus I wanted to share my suggested products and regimens for maintaining healthy, beautiful skin even in brutal winter weather.
Even though it’s winter, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get your scrub on. Washing your face every night is important because of the impurities your skin is exposed to throughout the day. Even when it’s overcast or gets darker earlier, you’re still exposed to harmful UV rays. Regardless of your skin type, you should aim to wash your face in the morning and before bed. If you’re a once a day washer, do so before bed. Your body heals and repairs cells when you sleep (which is why sleep is so important, especially for your brain). Making sure your pores are clean is essential, so remove impurities before bed to maximize the benefits of your body restoring itself during the night. Plus, if you wear makeup, not washing it off collects a disgusting amount of germs that hibernate in your face all night.
I truly believe the best skin care regimens are the simple ones that are easy to stick to. Invest in 2-5 minutes of nightly prep as many nights a week as you can and your body will thank you for it!
Night Time Routine
Oil of Olay is hands down my favorite. They have a few options for different skin types: normal, sensitive (“gentle”) or advanced (“Regenerist” line). You can get the “wet” wipes so if you are less dedicated, you don’t even need to wet them, just wipe your face. The benefit is if you REALLY aren’t a routine person, you can keep them on your night stand and do a general wipe down – something is better than nothing! My favorite thing about them is not just how well they clean, but how well they trap makeup in the cloth. You can remove your mascara first, continue to wipe your face and not a spec of it smears. Even if you don’t wear makeup I still highly recommend using these because they’re great at pulling out dirt and oil.
I was initially skeptical, however 1 holiday season while at Sephora, Clarisonic was promoting their new brush models and we were asked who had used the product. When I took a good look at who raised their hands I couldn’t believe how much better their skin was compared to those who hadn’t raised their hand. I was still a bit apprehensive about spending $150 on something that I have never used – what if I didn’t like the sensation or the bristles irritated my skin? So I started by getting this cheaper one online which retails for only $30 (I bought one on Groupon for $20). I’ve had mine for about 6 months and definitely see the benefits and intend to upgrade to a better brand later this year.
Step 2b. Use a cleanser with your brush.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser – $15 for 1.7 oz/$38 for 5.1 oz, Sephora
I recommend getting this cleanser whether or not you have a brush. It is great for all skin types, especially sensitive skin and is one of the only cleansers I’ve used that fully cleans my skin but somehow does not dry it out either. If you can manage a basic skin care routine, I suggest using this cleanser after the Oil of Olay face wipes to truly get your skin clean before bed. If you can combine it with an electric brush, even better but if not you will still see benefits!
Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Melting Cleanser – $38 for 5 oz, Sephora
This is a great cleanser that not only gets rid of excess makeup with a relaxing, melty feel, but it is also ideal for maturing skin. I like to be careful with anti-aging products because at a certain point, if you over use them they will not always continue to provide as great of a benefit. What I like about Algenist is they aim to combine science with nature and while the product is newer, it has been highly rated. thedermareview.com says it best: Alguronic acid is a polysaccharides extracted from algae and claimed to have anti-aging benefits for the skin. Algenist products accelrate cell turnover, promoting tight, wrinkle-free skin over time. Algenist claims that Algae has evolved over millions of years to protect themselves from damaging environmental factors such as UV exposure—the same elements that affect our skin. Works for me!
Step 3 – Toner
I admit, I don’t really use toner, however I know people who swear by it. If you want to add a little extra to your skincare routine, particularly if you have an issue such as acne, very oily skin or even redness, you may want to include toner in the next step of your night time regimine. Here is a great article about why you should use toners and what to look for in a good toner. I personally have found that anything containing rose – water, essence, extract – is phenomenal for glowing skin.
Step 4 – Moisturizer
I’m all about having a solid moisturizer and slapping it on, but you can also include an eye cream here. My absolute favorite winter time moisturizer is Laura Mercier’s Mega Moisture Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Sunscreen for Normal/Dry skin.
I can’t always use this in the summer as someone with combination skin, so if you need something a bit lighter, Estée Lauder has excellent moisturizers for a variety of skin types and ages. I really like their advanced night repair eye. I suggest buying this at Macy’s because they always have such great gift sets with Estée Lauder.
Want to know my other night time favorite? Vaseline on your lips. That’s right, any petrolium jelly will do and it’s a cheap buy from your local drug store that will leave you with soft lips in the am.
Day Time Routine
Step 1. Wash
When I hop in the shower, the first thing I do is wet my face and access where I’m at. If my skin feels rough and dry, I go for a more exfoliating and hydrating face wash like these:
Clarin’s One Step Gentle Orange Extract Exfoliating Cleanser – $38 for 4.3 oz., Sephora
Soap & Glory’s Face Soap And Clarity 3-In-1 Daily Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash – $16, Amazon Prime
Step 2. Face Mask
Fresh Rose Face Mask – $62 for 3.4 oz., Sephora
This is not necessary and certainly not every day, but like many of you, I had gotten the Sephora Beauty Insider’s 2016 birthday gift from Fresh this year and became immediately obsessed with their Rose Face Mask. While it’s not cheap it’s worth every penny. After washing my face, I leave this mask in the shower so I can spread a think coat on my face while washing up. By this point the shower steam has already gotten a chance to relax my skin and open my pores when I apply it. Then by the time I’m finished rinsing off, I hop out of the shower with soft, lustrous skin that freakin’ glows. I don’t use it every day but you certainly could. I always encourage people to not wear makeup at least 1-2 days a week (or more if you can) and this face mask makes that possible. The first day I used this mask I didn’t wear makeup because my skin looked just as good without it. Long story short, I could write a novel about this stuff, so just go get it. You’re welcome.
Step 3. Moisturizer
You can use the same moisturizer in your night time routine so long as it contains SPF. Moisturizer is essential and in winter time! I moisturize and then add a bit more to my primer or foundation for a layered, moisture rich application.
Again, especially for those extra cold days, keep some Vaseline or an SPF lip balm to protect that purrty mouth of yours. If you’re a chapstick user, don’t go too heavily because it can actually dry out your lips with over usage. So perhaps start with Vaseline and keep a Chapstick with you throughout the day, if you insist.
Don’t forget about the rest of you! For really bad weather, I will straight up slather Vaseline all over my hands in the am and then use a heavy moisture lotion throughout the day.
The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter – $21.60, Amazon Prime
One of my absolute favorite things is The Body Shop’s Mega Coconut Body Butter (they make other scents of course, but the smell of tropical vacation is especially soothing in the tough winter months, plus I get endless compliments from complete strangers on how good I smell. Not only does this 48 hour body butter leave your skin incredibly hydrated and soft, but you don’t need any fragrances. While I’m not big into fragrance anyway (there’s nothing worse than smelling someone’s perfume from 30 ft away), it doesn’t mean I don’t like to smell good. The pleasant scent lasts most of the day, but within a respectable nose range (only smell-able from people in your bubble space).
St. Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastin Moisturizer – starting at $4.67, Amazon.com
Not into heavy body butters? My second favorite, which I use in the summer when body butters are too heavy is St. Ives Timeless Skin Facial Moisturizer, Collagen Elastin. I realize this is a facial moisturizer but at only $5 for 10 oz, it’s affordable enough I can use a thin layer on my entire body with fabulous results. Plus, you can get it at most drug stores or Target/Walmart or even just get it shipped to you on amazon which means there’s no reason why you can’t get it.
We all know those winter toes get narsty, so keep them fresh by exfoliating and scrubbing the hell out of them. I love to soak my feet in the bath with water as hot as I can stand.
Microplane Colossal Pedicure Rasp (Foot File) – $7.19, Amazon.com
For rough callouses, get one of the cheese graters for your feet and then scrub like crazy with St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub. Every dermatologist has mentioned how terrible St. Ive’s is because of the rough sand they put in it, but I actually love to use this on my underarms every day, on my legs to exfoliate before shaving and only very rarely do I use it on my face (which is usually when I’ve been bad had haven’t kept up with a proper skin care routine for a few days and need some serious intervention).
St. Ives Naturally Clear Blemish and Blackhead Control Scrub, Apricot – $3.63 for 6 oz., Amazon.com
Knowing this, I can’t help but love the stuff and have found that it is ideal for my feet, doing a great job on tough skin, especially when paired with a pumice stone. Peppermint is also great for your feet, so you can either use a peppermint foot scrub or peppermint lotion. Sometimes I just use my favorite Body Shop lotion and put on socks.
Amopé Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File with Diamond Crystals – $30, Amazon Prime But after I scrub and exfoliate, I actually really love that Amope electric pedicure file. I thought it was a lame seen-on-tv product, but my mom got me one for my birthday last year. It’s now one of my favorite things.
While this may seem like a long list, just remember you don’t have to do it all at once. The most important part is cleaning your skin and moisturizing it, so do as much or as little as you want and try your best to fit quality skin care in your daily routine to fight off the horrid effects of winter weather on your skin.