No matter how cold it is outside, your skin may still feel as parched as a desert -- and your face, exposed to the elements each day -- will likely bear the brunt of it. Your complexion looks dull, your rosy cheeks become dry and cracked, and conditions like eczema and dermatitis can flare up in this environment.
It's more critical than ever to lock in your skin's natural moisture, and tend to it with gentle ingredients. Take some time this winter to give your face the treatment it's craving.
Brighten Dull Skin
Tiny flakes trap the light rather than reflecting it, making skin appear dull. Flakiness usually indicates skin-barrier damage, which means the skin loses water and feels rough.
How to treat it
If you see flakes and dry skin, your impulse may be to slather on tons of moisturizer, but first you need to remove those dead skin cells with an exfoliant, Madfes says. Just be gentle -- you want to lift off the dead cells, not irritate the fragile barrier. Next, apply a cream that will hydrate the new cells and plump and brighten dried-out skin. For a little something extra, put on lotion after leaning over a sink of warm water -- the air just above the surface of the water is super-hydrated and helps to moisten facial skin, Treloar says.
Nature by Canus Hydrating Facial Scrub gently exfoliates with organic acai powder. A blend of jojoba oils and castor beans helps soften skin while you scrub. $16, canusgoatsmilk.com
New technology in L'Oreal Paris Youth Code Day/Night Cream works by activating repair genes. This rich, deeply hydrating moisturizer is designed to help skin recover from environmental damage. $25, drugstore.com
Soften Dry, Chapped Cheeks
Look closely and you'll see that chapped skin actually has tiny fissures in the top layer. That's partially due to a lack of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in the body, which can lead to scaly dermatitis. "Our bodies don't make EFAs," Treloar says, "so you need to make sure you have enough healthy oils in your diet."
How to treat it
To heal the fissures, cleanse gently and apply moisturizer directly afterward, to form a barrier that will help the skin stay hydrated. To avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils, wash your face only at night and just splash it with water in the morning. To boost EFAs, try supplementing. "Many of my dry, itchy patients improve when they take a tablespoon of high-quality flaxseed or fish oil capsules daily for a few months," Treloar says.
A creamy face wash, Weleda Gentle Cleansing Milk uses organic jojoba seed oil to remove dirt and oil; antioxidant-rich organic sesame seed oil nourishes skin. $19, usa.weleda.com
Chock-full of natural oils like argan, jojoba, avocado, coconut, and neem, plus antioxidant turmeric extract and soothing honey, MuFace Daily Moisturizing Complex is a calming blend. $45, mubeauty.com
Smooth Out Splotchy Skin
Winter invites skin conditions such as rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, and flushing. The change in temperature and dry indoor air mean your skin loses water; these conditions, which are aggravated by dryness, flare up.
How to treat it
Anti-inflammatory antioxidants like green tea and vitamin C can help calm things down. To maintain your skin's natural barrier, use creamy cleansers that don't dry it out further and simple moisturizers with emollients and humectants such as glycerol. If you tend to break out, look for lightweight lotion; if you have eczema, pick products that are gentle and fragrance-free. Increase the moisture in the air by using a steam vaporizer in your bedroom and at your desk.
Featuring antioxidant-rich fruits, Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh Smoothing Daily Cleanser is high in vitamin C and contains a gentle, natural cleanser that doesn't strip skin. $10, yestocarrots.com
Soothing algae protects and calms in Bobbi Brown Hydrating Face Cream, a rich formula that helps keep skin moisturized all day long. $50, bobbibrown.com