The ultimate clickbait for me involves two words: winter skin.
“Winter Skin Essentials”, “Combating Winter Skin”, “Moisturizers for Winter Skin”, “Quench Your Winter Skin”…. I could go on. If someone has written an article or blog post about the fight so many of us have against dull, flaky skin this time of year, chances are I have read it, hoping to find a new holy grail product that I can rush out to buy. While I battle eczema year round, like most people living in the Midwest, I find that winter is especially challenging. After years of testing new products and revisiting old favorites, I wanted to share some of the products that have been indispensable in my efforts to banish a dull complexion December through February.
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Daily Facial Care:
1. Clinique Pep-Start 2-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser- $19.50/4.2 oz
Before putting anything on my face to lock in hydration, exfoliating it is key. I’ve tried several different scrubs, like Goldilocks, hoping to find the best fit. I’ve tried drugstore brand scrubs with scrubbing beads; those still left behind rough patches and flakes, failing to eliminate the problem. I’ve tried raw sugar mixed with honey, which left me with giant red patches from over exfoliation. This cleanser is just right. It’s gentle enough to use twice a day and has more of a fine sugar texture to it, allowing it to lightly resurface my skin without stripping it raw.
2. Mario Badescu Facial Spray- $7/4 oz.
For my face, layering products is key. I start with this facial mist and use it both at morning and night. I spritz it pretty liberally, as it’s a lot more economical than most of the other products I use. The rosewater used in the spray also smells absolutely heavenly, which always puts me in a relaxed mood. In part, the smell is why I picked it up on a whim while shopping at Anthropologie, but I quickly found that adding this extra layer of moisture to my routine makes a big difference in how supple my face will feel later on in the day.
3. Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator- $39/1.7 oz
When I was in high school, my mother encouraged me to start a Clinique regimen at the recommendation of our dermatologist, who was familiar with my dry, sensitive, redness prone face. For years, as a part of that regimen, I used the classic Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief with a fair amount of success. Then, as I started reading more on skin care products, I abandoned Clinique to try out other regimens looking for something a bit heavier, never really settling on anything for too long. About a year ago, I picked up a jar of the Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator and have never looked back. It’s magic for dry skin and is definitely a step up from the Extended Thirst Relief. It’s definitely a cream rather than a gel moisturizer, but not an overly thick one that you have to warm in your hand prior to putting it on. If you are prone to flakes showing up midday, this really helps to keep them at bay. I also have been happy that, like I’ve experienced with many Clinique products, it doesn’t prompt any sudden redness to appear around my cheeks or nose
4. Becca Priming Filter Face Primer- $38/1 oz
For me, a primer is less about helping my makeup stick, although this product does have that benefit, and more about adding a final defense to my skin to lock in moisture before putting makeup on. Keep in mind, I’m also looking for a product to make me look dewier and more moisturized. Any kind of mattifying primer just strips my skin completely. This primer glides on as a light, luminescent cream and gives your skin a tacky feeling after it has set, which I assume helps it to hold makeup better. I also have not experienced any clogged pores from this primer, which I have struggled with in the past with certain other primers.
Extra Boosts for My Face:
GLAMGLOW kills it with masks as far as I’m concerned. While I like a lot of different face masks and am always trying new ones, these are the two that I turn when I need a guarantee that a problem will be fixed quickly.
5. GLAMGLOW FLASHMUD Brightening Treatment- $69/1.7 oz
If my face is looking especially dull or has a rougher texture, I’ll double down on the exfoliation and use this mask as a boost for what my scrub is able to do. I usually wash my face before hopping in a bath each night, and if I’m using this, I’ll apply it before getting in and will leave it on while I’m soaking and reading for 10-15 minutes. I do only apply it at night, as when I remove it, it does leave my skin pretty red from the intense exfoliation. However, that effect is temporary, and by morning, I’m left with a brighter, smoother, more even complexion.
6. GLAMGLOW THIRSTYMUD Hydrating Treatment- $69/1.7 oz
This mask is a bit more versatile in its use. Obviously, it’s something that I turn to when I see a need for more hydration that my moisturizer is providing. However, it’s also something I use more proactively as well, to try to prevent dryness before the symptoms show up. If I have spent a lot of time outside in extreme heat or cold, or if I’m traveling by plane or car, I’ll turn to this product to give my skin some extra care. While the mask is a tan color in the jar, it does appear clear once it’s on your skin. I’ve actually taken the mini size of this on a plane with me and applied it before take off to lock in moisture that my skin will lose after air travel. Maybe I look a little crazy to the person sitting next to me, but I’m also someone who travels by plane in her running clothes and immediately puts over the ear headphones on, so I’m not too hung up on looking glamorous or making single serving friends during the trip anyway. You can of course use the mask normally and rinse it off after 10-15 minutes, but typically I leave it on and allow it to sink into my skin fully as an especially heavy cream rather than rinse it away. It also works well as a sleeping mask to be applied and left on overnight.
Daily Body Care:
7. Bliss Vanilla + Bergamot Body Buff with Shea Butter + Sweet Almond Oil- $38/12 oz
Just like my face, I find that my body usually can’t handle intense scrubs. Salt scrubs in particular don’t work for me because, when applied, they sting and irritate any patches I may have from an eczema flare up. This scrub doesn’t use salt for exfoliation and has a thick lotion texture to it, so while it helps buff away dead skin, it also replenishes moisture. I’ll typically use it in the bath or shower after shaving to help soothe and smooth my skin. It also smells wonderful thanks to the extracts and oils that are in it, but doesn’t have any fragrance listed, so I think that may be why I don’t experience any irritation from it. When you’re so limited with needing to use fragrance free products, it’s a pleasant surprise when you find one that smells great.
8. Bliss Naked Body Butter Maximum Moisture Cream- $12/6.7 oz
Like scrubs, I’ve tried a lot of different body lotions and body butters trying to find the best fit for me. Most that I tried weren’t moisturizing enough, but some had the opposite effect, going on thick and staying tacky for what seemed like forever. This one, while delivering the high intensity hydration that my skin, especially my legs, need, also dries very quickly, without leaving a greasy residue. Because it absorbs right away, it’s something that I can use in the morning and night. As a minimalist who likes as few steps as possible in the morning, I love that. While I use the Naked version of this, as that’s fragrance free, they do have some really amazing scented versions as well that may work for you if you don’t have that sensitivity.
Extra Boosts for My Body:
Body Shop Cactus Long Handle Body Brush- $15
If I notice a lot of dry patches or just all over rough skin at the end of the day, I turn to this brush for some extra exfoliation. Dry brushing works really well for me. There are a lot of great suggestions out there for techniques to use with dry brushing to help with circulation, but I just brush all over with no particular direction to help lift off dead skin before getting in the shower or bath. If I’m planning to wear and skirt or dress and have exposed legs the next day, I’ll usually go ahead and dry brush my legs so that they’re as bright as possible too. The Body Shop makes this version of the brush as well as a smaller hand held version, but I find the long handle version is easier to work with if you want to ensure you’re thoroughly brushing your whole body.
There you have it! While there are a lot of other products I like and use from time to time, these are the ones that get the best real estate on our bathroom counter during the winter months. They’re my tried and true, multiple empty bottles, holy grail products. I hope that this post helps if you find yourself struggling with dry winter skin. If there’s anything you have used that you LOVE, let me know in the comments below. I love experimenting with new products!