Our skin has a sort of natural glow during the summer months thanks to boosted humidity levels and reduced indoor heating. Come winter, though, complexions can take a turn for the dry, flaky, and itchy worst. Here’s the thing, though: You don’t need to completely upheave your current skincare routine in order to tackle winter skin.
The slightest tweaks to your routine can make all the difference between a brilliant complexion and a rough case of dry, itchy skin in winter. From slathering SPF to swapping in a moisturizing cleanser, these dry skin treatments and tips will keep you glowing all winter long.
Why Is My Skin so Dry in the Winter?
You can see and feel that your winter skin tone is lackluster compared to your summer complexion, but what, exactly, is to blame for dry itchy skin in the winter? It’s not just one thing but rather a swirling multitude of factors that join forces to conspire against your complexion.
It’s a combination of cold air, indoor heating, lower humidity levels, and blustery winter winds, notes the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD).All the above can compromise your skin barrier, which can lead to dehydration, flaking, itchiness, dullness, and a rough texture. When left unchecked, a mild case of dry skin in winter can potentially evolve into a more uncomfortable situation with cracking, rawness, stinging, and burning.
Staying consistent with a winter skincare routine and making small adjustments—like using a more moisturizing face cream or slightly lowering the temperature during your shower—can help curb winter skin itch, sensitivity, and dullness.
Which Sunscreen Is Best for Winter?
One of the biggest mistakes people make in their winter skincare routines is putting SPF on the back burner. Shorter days and cloudy forecasts make it easier to forget sun protection.
Nevertheless, sunscreen should remain a winter skincare staple. Even in the thick of winter, the sun’s UV rays are powerful and can damage your skin barrier, lead to premature signs of aging, or even skin cancer. The AAD highlights the risk of sunburn and notes that damage can increase in the winter months for those who love snowy activities like snowboarding, skiing, or snowman-making.
Apply SPF of 30 or higher daily—even if you’re inside on an overcast day—and reapply every two hours. Make sure to apply everywhere your skin is exposed, including your neck, ears, and hands.
“The best sunscreens are the ones people wear everyday, whether they are physical or chemical,” says Dr. Julia Tzu, a triple board-certified dermatologist and IT Cosmetics Advisory Board Member.
If you’re wondering what’s the difference between clear versus mineral SPF, we have you covered. Clear SPF leaves no white cast and protects the skin by neutralizing UV rays while mineral SPF protects skin by deflecting UV rays using physical sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
A pro tip from us to you: The best sunscreen for winter is the one you actually want to apply!
To sweeten the skin protection skincare pot, use makeup formulated with sunscreen, such as IT Cosmetics’ family of CC Creams and foundations:
- CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 50+: Named #1 SPF Foundation in America*, this full coverage foundation features a formula that's infused with skin-loving ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin E. Now available in 10 new shades (making this best-seller available in 22 shades), our six deepest shades (neutral rich to deep mocha) contain a clear SPF for zero white cast. The six deepest shades are formulated with clear SPF while the other 16 shades feature mineral SPF.
- CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum with SPF 40: This lightweight foundation formula with glow serum is infused with 2% niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, green tea extract and physical or mineral SPF 40. It instantly delivers the look of healthy, glowing skin for that no makeup makeup look.
- Bye Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer with SPF 50+: If you prefer more coverage, this is the foundation for you. It protects skin with SPF 50+ broad-spectrum physical sunscreen while improving the look of redness, large pores, dark spots, acne, and wrinkles.
How Do You Fix Winter Skin? 9 More Skincare Tips for Winter
Wearing sunscreen is one of the best winter skincare tips we’ve got for you, so heed our words! That said, there’s even more you can do to keep your complexion in tip-top shape through the blustery season.
1. Swap in a Hydrating Cleanser
The winter months call for more moisture, so replace any gel face wash with a luxuriously hydrating option. Bye Bye Makeup Cleansing Balm nixes all traces of makeup while lending to a soft, hydrated complexion. For a more traditional option that still brings on the moisture, try Confidence in a Cleanser. It combines the cleansing power of a foam cleanser with the hydration of a serum.
2. Use a More Robust Moisturizer
A luxurious moisturizer is one of the best dry skin treatments out there, so replace your lightweight moisturizer with one that’s got more oomph. When picking out a moisturizer for dry skin in winter, use one with ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and squalane to help hydrate and lock in moisture. Confidence in a Cream Anti-Aging Hydrating Moisturizer has all three.
3. Avoid Drying Ingredients
In addition to using gentle and hydrating ingredients, steer clear of ingredients that can dry out your skin. Big no-nos include alcohol, strong fragrances, and dyes.
4. Incorporate a Hydrating Serum
Double down on your hydration game by creating a “moisturizer sandwich” which means layering your creamy moisturizer over a hydrating serum. For example, you can apply Bye Bye Lines Hyaluronic Acid Serum and then top it with Confidence in a Cream. Bonus points for smoother and younger-looking skin!
5. Apply Moisturizer to Damp Skin
Applying moisturizer to damp skin helps lock in hydration. Aim to apply moisturizer to your face, body, and hands within five minutes of washing.
6. Moisturize More Often
Along with using the best moisturizer for dry skin in the winter you can find, moisturize more often. If you’re dealing with dry skin, make sure you’re using moisturizer in the morning and night. Also, remember to apply it anytime you wash your face, hands, or body.
7. Turn Down the Temperature in Your Shower
Hot showers are a delight, but only in the moment. Fast forward 15 minutes post-dry off and you’re looking at parched skin. You don’t need to take a lukewarm or cold shower, but do turn down the dial a few degrees and try to spend less time showering, in general. Five to 10 minutes is enough to take care of your shower checklist.
8. Keep on Exfoliating
Another common mistake people make when tending to winter skin is skipping exfoliation. While it’s good practice to reduce frequency according to your skin’s needs, don’t jump ship altogether. Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells from the skin's surface and keeps your skin looking radiant and smooth. Bye Bye Pores Glycolic Acid Serum exfoliates skin for super-smooth results! With 10% glycolic acid, this vegan skincare formula** visibly minimizes pores in just 1 week. (Psst! If you’re not sure how often to exfoliate in winter, check out our guide on over-exfoliation.)
9. Try a Humidifier
You can’t always avoid (notoriously drying) indoor heating, but you can compensate with a humidifier. Place one next to your bedside, in your office, and anywhere else you spend a lot of time. It boosts humidity in the air, which can help keep skin moisturized.
*The NPD Group/US Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, Makeup Product Sales, January- December 2022.
**Vegan formula: no animal-derived ingredients.
- “Your Winter Skin Survival Kit.” American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/care/winter-skin-survival-kit.
- “Why You Need Sun Protection in the Winter.” American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/shade-clothing-sunscreen/cold-weather.