How to Prepare Your Skin for Winter, According to a Dermatologist

October 11, 2023
Mary Honkus
By: Mary Honkus | by L'Oréal
Picture of an editor with dirty blonde hair and bangs against a red graphic background

Just as you rotate your wardrobe with the seasons, you should do the same with your skincare routine. Right now is the best time to prepare for the colder, drier months by switching out your lightweight moisturizers with heavier creams to ensure your skin stays properly hydrated. “Winter weather, with its cold temperatures, low humidity and brisk winds, along with dry heat from heaters, can really dry out our skin,” says Dr. Hadley King, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and consultant. “To combat dry winter skin, it is important to add as much moisture to our skin as possible.” 


Keep reading for her tips on how to prepare your skin for winter — including what moisturizing ingredients to incorporate and what to avoid during the colder months. Plus, find our editors’ cold weather skincare routine in the video below.

Layer on the Moisture

According to Dr. King, your winter moisturizer should contain three different components: humectants, emollients and occlusives. “Humectants bind water into the outer layers of skin, emollients help the skin barrier function to improve skin’s texture and appearance, and occlusives block transepidermal water loss,” she explains. 


We recommend the La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ Moisturizer for Dry Skin – which has all three – for the body. For the face, we love the humectant-rich Lancôme Rénergie H.P.N. 300-Peptide Cream.


It’s also a good idea to invest in a hydrating facial serum and apply it under your moisturizer for an extra boost of hydration. Look for formulations with hyaluronic acid, like the Kiehl’s Ultra Pure High-Potency 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid Serum, to give you lasting hydration. 

Kiehl’s Ultra Pure High-Potency 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Avoid Hot Baths and Showers

Though you may want to warm up with a hot bubble bath after being outside in frigid temperatures, Dr. King advises against it because the hot water can dry out your skin. “Instead, take brief lukewarm showers no more than once per day and use a gentle soap that won’t dry out your skin.” The CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser is a gentle, fragrance-free option that’s packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid to hydrate dry skin. 


After your shower, be sure to immediately apply a body lotion while your skin is still damp to lock in moisture. “You should use enough to leave the skin feeling well hydrated,” says Dr. King. “If the skin seems to quickly absorb what you have applied and feels dry then you need to either apply more or switch to a more moisturizing product.”

CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser

Invest in a Humidifier

When the air is dry, it actually draws moisture from your skin. To prevent this from happening, invest in a humidifier for your bedroom or any room you spend a majority of your time in. “By increasing the humidity of the air in your environment, you will lose less moisture from your skin into the air,” says Dr. King. There are a variety of compact, portable options like the Hey Dewy Wireless Facial Humidifier. Leave it on while you sleep to combat the dry weather.

Hey Dewy Wireless Facial Humidifier
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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