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How to Care for Dry Skin in Winter

Learn what causes dry skin on face in winter and how face moisturizer and other skincare routine steps can help. Shop skincare products at Lancôme.


It happens almost as if on cue: When the weather gets cold and blustery with the seasons, your skin may begin to feel dry, rough or flaky; you may even experience itchy skin. Dry skin in winter can happen even if you don’t necessarily have a dry skin type; when this case, it’s largely due to the environment, and usually only temporary. Still, it’s also nothing that a few tweaks to your skincare routine, as well as a good face moisturizer, can’t help with. Here’s a closer look at how and why dry skin in winter is so common — and what you can do about it.

How Winter Leads to Dry Skin

It’s not just you — skin really does get dry in the winter. The combination of cold temperatures and low humidity in the air have been found to impact the skin barrier, compromising skin barrier function and even causing stress in skin.1 And, as we’ve covered before, a healthy skin barrier is essential for maintaining skin hydration and pH; when it’s properly cared for, it helps skin look smooth and firm.2

When the skin barrier isn’t working properly — as is the case in winter weather — that can lead to dry or dehydrated skin. Dry skin in winter can look rough, dull or flaky, and you might experience tight or itchy skin. The dryness can also make fine lines and wrinkles appear more noticeable.3

What to Look for in a Face Moisturizer

There are two types of ingredients to look for in a moisturizer. The first are humectants. Humectants are ingredients that both attract and retain water in skin, which can plump and hydrate from the inside out.4 These include hyaluronic acid and glycerin. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by the skin, but its levels drop over time due to a combo of age and sun damage.5 That can lead to the loss of elasticity and hydration, which is why incorporating a hyaluronic acid serum or moisturizer in the winter is especially helpful for those experiencing dry skin.

Then, there are your emollients — which typically consist of fatty acids and lipids, such as shea butter and coconut oil, hydration and leave otherwise flaky skin feeling soft and smooth to the touch — which in turn can also make it appear more radiant.

How to Moisturize Dry Skin in Winter

Your skincare routine should reflect your goal of properly hydrating dry skin in winter. So, a good face moisturizer should be a non-negotiable in the winter, and you should apply it soon after cleansing.6 Consider layering hydration via skincare products throughout your skincare routine, starting with cleanser. Here’s an example of how to do just that:

  • Step 1: First, cleanse your skin. If you have dry skin on your face, skip foam or gel cleansers in favor of a gentle formula that nourishes and soothes skin as it washes away impurities and makeup, such as Crème Mousse Confort. Rinse with lukewarm water, as hot water can further dry skin.
  • Step 2: Apply an alcohol-free toner that nourishes and further purifies skin, such as Tonique Confort. It’s blended with hyaluronic acid and sweet almond oil to replenish skin hydration in just 15 minutes.
  • Step 3: Immediately after applying toner, massage a hydrating serum like Advanced Génifique Face Serum into skin. It also contains ceramides (an emollient), vitamin C and bifidus prebiotic to deliver hydration and visibly improve radiance.
  • Step 4: Moisturize with a face moisturizer that suits your skin type. For instance, Absolue Revitalizing & Brightening Rich Cream smooths and softens skin, and helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. On the other hand, Hydra Zen Anti-Stress Gel Cream is a good moisturizer for oily skin, as the lightweight texture and oil-free formula offer hydration without heaviness.
  • Step 5: Dab eye cream around your eyes, which have some of the thinnest skin on the body and are just as prone to dry skin in winter. Absolue Revitalizing Eye Cream is formulated with Lancôme’s exclusive blend of Grand Rose Extracts, and it instantly delivers soft, smooth and brighter skin around the eyes.

Depending on the time of day, follow this regimen with sunscreen as the last step.

1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26449379/
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5608132/
3 https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/dermatologists-tips-relieve-dry-skin
4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885180/#sec1-3title
5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583886/#__sec13title
6 https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/dermatologists-tips-relieve-dry-skin

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