A 5-Step Winter Skin Care Routine for Skin of Color
All skin types and tones can benefit from a targeted skin care routine. Since darker skin tones are more prone to hyperpigmentation, inflammatory skin conditions—some of which can be spurred on or exacerbated by the harsh effects of winter—should be kept under control. Ahead, we’re breaking down a five-step winter skin care routine for skin of color.
Step 1: Cleanse Your Skin Thoroughly
There’s little sense in applying skin care products on top of dirty skin. Remove impurities and set the foundation for your routine with a gentle cleanser. The goal is to cleanse your skin, not leave it feeling squeaky clean, tight, or uncomfortable. If you feel any of the latter, you should consider swapping your cleanser for a gentler formula.
Step 2: Tone Your Skin
After cleansing, reach for a hydrating toner to balance your skin. The best formulas are those that can remove any lingering debris and dirt from skin’s surface, hydrate the skin, and normalize pH levels.
Step 3: Apply a Skin-Brightening Serum
As mentioned earlier, hyperpigmentation is prevalent amongst people of color. If you notice your skin’s tone looking uneven, you can apply a targeted serum that can help brighten the look of your complexion. “Usually, darker skin types suffer from irregular skin pigmentation, so I usually recommend a daily skin brightener in their regimen,” says ethnic skin expert, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. William Kwan. For brightening benefits plus antioxidant protection, reach for a vitamin C serum. We list a handful of our favorites, here.
Step 4: Moisturize Religiously
Winter is notorious for cold winds and temperatures that can suck the moisture out of your skin. Skin that feels dry can start to flake and feel itchy. Itching can cause your skin to become inflamed, which can trigger a post-inflammatory response. To help keep your dry skin under control, make sure to moisturize daily. You can use any type of moisturizer you like so long as it provides adequate hydration. Formulas with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and other moisturizing powerhouse ingredients are a good place to start. Just make sure your lifestyle habits are not causing your skin to dry out further. This means taking shorter showers with lukewarm water, protecting your skin against whipping winds with scarves and gloves, and investing in a humidifier to combat low humidity levels caused by artificial heating systems.
Step 5: Apply Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Daily
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can skip out on broad-spectrum sunscreen. Be as diligent with your sunscreen use in the winter as you are in the summer since harmful UV rays are still present and can cause damage to your skin. “The most prevalent cause of hyperpigmentation is unprotected sun exposure, subsequent sun damage, and aging of the skin,” says board-certified plastic surgeon, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Peter Schmid. “All skin types remain vulnerable to UV radiation be there cloudy skies or rain. Sun damage and pigmentation management demands preventative skin care.” Layer up with sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy outside. If you need help deciding, these are the best sunscreens for darker skin tones.
Editor’s note: It’s never too late to start getting serious about your skin, but the earlier you start the better. “Unfortunately, most hyperpigmentation remains persistent or darkens over time if not addressed,” Dr. Schmid says. “In fact, bad habits in our teen years can set us up for the future health of our skin, as the skin has ‘a memory’ to repetitive sun exposure, long hours of tanning, and burns.”