Beauty Solutions: Saving Face in Winter

by Sonja on February 4, 2009

image by Porcelaingirl° {josie-grossie}

“During the winter months, dry skin feels drier, oily skin comes down a notch and becomes less oily on the surface, acneic and sensitive skins tends to feel more irritated, and all three feel the dehydration,” says skin care expert Alicia Moody.

Winter’s harsh weather and low humidity are a recipe for dry, dehydrated skin, particularly on the face, which is constantly exposed to the elements. “During the winter months, dry skin feels drier, oily skin comes down a notch and becomes less oily on the surface, acneic and sensitive skins tends to feel more irritated, and all three feel the dehydration,” says skin care expert Alicia Moody, one of the most senior estheticians at International Orange Spa in San Francisco.

As skin changes, skin care needs to be adjusted accordingly so I put together a comprehensive guide on how to care for the face this time of year – from how to stay hydrated to how to best replenish moisture. I sought out expert advice and recommendations and checked in with my mom and sister, who live in the Midwest where it gets bitterly cold and are as adamant as I am about using exceptional skin care. Between the three of us, we cover most skin types. Mom has dry skin. My sister’s skin tends to be oily and prone to breakouts. And I have a combination of oily and normal skin with occasional breakouts.

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

First and foremost, drink plenty of water, as I mentioned in my article about caring for lips in winter. My health coach Christine Gonzalez says “Drinking water helps flush out toxins and impurities from the body and maintains good moisture levels in the skin. The outer layer of the skin is about 30% water and can get dried out in low humidity conditions.”

She also points out that we have to be more vigilant about drinking enough water, because it’s more challenging now. We just don’t get as thirsty and tend to drink less when it’s cold, because we’re not sweating as much. It’s recommended that we drink 64 ounces a day. Many people suggest drinking eight glasses of water a day. But that’s misleading. They really mean eight, eight-ounce glasses and most of us don’t drink out of teeny eight-ounce glasses. A typical water glass tends to hold about 16 ounces. Do the math and you’ll find that that breaks down to only four glasses a day – much easier to handle. You may want to track your intake. I kept a journal for a week and found that I still wasn’t getting enough so I started chugging. And no, beer doesn’t count.

Baths and Showers

Keep ‘em short and not too hot. It’s tempting to linger when it’s cold out. But all that hot water is drying. Don’t make yourself into a raisin. It’s not a good look.

Supplements, Humidifiers, and Sun Protection

Alicia recommends taking borage oil and fish oils supplements and using a humidifier to counter the drying effects of central heating. Christine also recommends wearing a high-quality sunscreen, because the sun robs skin of moisture. Pick one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays. My favorite is plant-based Marie Veronique Creme du Jour, which also moisturizes and is safe enough to use around the eyes.


Everyone should exfoliate. Alicia says, “At home, light-grade facial scrubs done a few times a week are generally safe and light-to-medium strength exfoliating masks done once weekly or twice a month will also help keep flaky skin from being a problem.” Check out my article on exfoliating to learn more and get product recommendations. I didn’t get into masks in that article. But I’ve found that all-natural Body Deli Fruit Smoothie Masque is very effective at getting rid of dead skin cells and giving skin a healthy glow (check out my article on Body Deli masks to learn more). As always, don’t overdo it, because that can break down the skin’s natural, protective barrier.


All Skin Types
One of my favorites is award-winning, eco-chic Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, a refreshing, concentrated cream cleanser that gets rid of even the most stubborn eye makeup and gently exfoliates when you use it with the accompanying muslin cloth.

Dry Skin
My mom loves Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Purifying Cream Cleanser, which is packed with moisture and super creamy.

Normal, Combination, Oily, and Acne-Prone Skin
If you typically use a foaming cleanser, consider switching to a cream cleanser, like totally natural Living Nature Vitalising Cleanser (made with naturally moisturizing Manuka Honey) or Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser (mentioned above for all skin types). My sister recently switched to Collective Wellbeing Cleansing Clay. She loves it because it’s natural and cleans thoroughly but doesn’t leave her skin feeling dry. If you still want to use something that foams, try 100% Pure Organic Lavender Seafoam Facial Cleanser, a great deep cleaning, non-drying, preservative-free cleanser made with nourishing organic seaweed.


If you typically use an astrigent toner, skip it this time of year. Opt for something that won’t dry the skin. Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs And Rosewater is a perennial favorite that can be spritzed on anytime of day to boost moisture and works well for all skin types. I use this all the time.

Serums and Antioxidants

Every skin can benefit from a serum with antioxidants. Alicia considers vitamin C in a serum a must have, because it’s one of the most potent antioxidants. “The right form of it (look for L-ascorbic acid on the label) literally travels to the deepest layers of the epidermis, attaching itself to any damaged or mutated cells and repairing them.”

It also bonds with and strengthens new cells, ensuring healthier and more stress-resistant future skin.” I wish I had known about these sooner. I would’ve started using them a long time ago. Use one before applying moisturizer.

Alicia recommends SkinCeuticals due to it’s patented delivery system and different strength options. She also recommends eco-friendly Arcona Youth Serum. I tried a sample of this and loved it. It’s a total multitasker – a powerful anti-ager that helps with pigmentation issues and broken capillaries, and lightens and brightens (all of which I totally need). It’s a light liquid that can even be used around the eyes.


Bump up the moisture. If you normally have oily skin, it could be helpful to move to something for normal skin. Normal skins can switch to products typically for normal-to-dry or dry skins. If you have dry skin or dry patches, consider adding a balm or oil.

All Skin Types
Aqua Dessa Super Potent Anti-Oxidant Serum
is a great all-natural serum and moisturizer that has a high concentration of antioxidants. It can be used alone as a moisturizer or under a moisturizer day or night. Eco-chic Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Superskin Concentrate is an intense, healing blend of 100% pure plant oils, including argan oil, for night that smells amazing. It’s rich enough for normal and dry skin and balances oily skin to prevent it from overproducing oil without feeling heavy.

Normal Skin
I really like Living Nature Nourishing Day Cream, an elegant option for normal-to-dry skin. It works incredibly well, is 100% natural, and moisturizes with a blend of Manuka honey, shea butter, and avocado oil (see my article about Living Nature to learn more about the line).

Overall Dry Skin or Dry Patches
“If your skin tends to be dry, you are already using pretty rich creams year round,” Alicia says. “You may want to supplement with a face balm during the winter. Usually with products of this consistency, it is not necessary to use much. The key is taking a smaller amount of a richer product and really concentrating on the areas that tend to get parched and cracked (around the nose and mouth).”

If your skin is dry overall, apply products on the entire face. If you simply have a few dry patches and/or irritated areas, then use some super intensive products just in those areas.

Alicia recommends Fleur Vibrante from In Fiore, a calendula-infused healing salve and, Decleor Aromessence Essential Balm. “Both are 100% natural and smell divine. They are ideal for harsh climates, high altitudes, and relieving any chronic skin irritations.” I tried a sample of the Decleor balm. It’s a nighttime treatment made with essential oils to decrease inflammation, purify, heal, and decongest the skin. I was amazed at how wonderful it smells and how soft my skin felt the following morning. It also really helped dry patches I get around my nose from lots of winter nose blowing.

A rich night cream is also essential for dry skin. My mom really likes eco-friendly Organoderm Night Cream, which keeps her super dry skin comfortable and hydrated, and is USDA-certified organic. It’s also an incredibly good deal, because it comes in a much larger size than most creams (four ounces instead of the usual one or two ounces). All-natural Isshara Cell Booster Night Care, an intensively rich cream made with argan oil, is another excellent choice.

If you want something you can use day and night or simply to supplement the moisturizer you’re already using, consider totally natural Mountain Rose Herbs Classic Rose Facial Oil, an affordable, incredibly rich, highly concentrated oil made of plant oils and flowers. It’s designed to promote the regeneration of new, healthier skin cells and can be used on its own or under your regular moisturizer

Combination, Oily, and Acne-Prone Skin
If you have combination or oily skin and avoid creams or oils. Reconsider. My sister adores Teens Turning Green Pomega5 Perfectly Pom Moisturizer, which is lightweight, balancing, soothing, and made with antioxidant pomegranate seed oil. She avoided creams in the past but is really happy she tried this.

Alicia also recommends face oils for oilier skins. Natural plant oils balance skin and prevent the production of too much oil. “Avoiding mineral oil in favor of lighter oils like jojoba, carrot seed, evening primrose, grape seed and neroli will feel less greasy while balancing the skin. If your skin is acneic or sensitive, I would follow the same protocol as oily with the addition of the face balm on any severely irritated, inflamed or broken areas of skin.”

She recommends lightly pressing just a few drops of oil against the face, instead of slathering it on, which can make the skin feel greasy. Emulsify it first by rubbing it together in the palms of the hand. Try Aqua Dessa Super Potent Anti-Oxidant Serum and Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Superskin Concentrate (both mentioned earlier for all skin types) .

Extra Care

To get an extra infusion of moisture, use a moisturizing mask once a week. It will work better if you use an exfoliating mask first to get rid of dead skin cells so the moisturizing mask can penetrate better. I start with all-natural Body Deli Fruit Smoothie Masque to exfoliate and follow with hydrating Body Deli Peaches and Cream Masque. My mom is also a big fan of eco-friendly, super rich Zia Ultimate Age-Defying Mask, which contains a blend of vitamins and fruit extracts.

And, of course, a professional facial will work wonders to get winter skin in shape and more manageable. An aesthetician can also give you an expert analysis of your skin to make sure you’re caring for it properly from day to day.

Do Tell

Have you adjusted your skin care routine for winter? Have you found something that you can’t live without? Or are you still looking? Do tell.

P.S. Check out our regularly updated Beauty Resources page for some fantastic beauty deals from companies like Benefit,, and

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Frankie - Swell Vintage February 4, 2009 at 6:05 am

Great tips! Thank you x

Ashley February 4, 2009 at 6:34 am

I can’t live without my clinique moisturesurge. It’s perfect for my combo. skin. And it’s an awesome base for makeup. I also like to use clay masks once a week. Makes my skin feel softer.

Alex February 4, 2009 at 8:28 am

Great point about drinking water. I find that moisturising and exfoliating dont do a think to help my skin when its dry if im not drinking enought water.

I definitely want to give the Decleor Balm a try too now. I keep hearing great things about Decleor.

Sonja February 4, 2009 at 1:04 pm

❤ Frankie - Swell Vintage, you’re very welcome. Hope it helps!
❤ Ashley, I’ve never tried Moisture Surge. I didn’t know it was good for combo skin or that it’s a good makeup base. Thanks for sharing!
❤ Alex, drinking enough water is definitely a challenge. Tracking how much I drink really helped, because I had no idea how little I was getting until I did that. I figured I was close. But I was so wrong. Now I’m drinking lots more and it seems to be helping. Definitely try the Decleor Balm. It’s wonderful! It’s the first time I tried anything from them. Now I want to try everything! :)

charm February 7, 2009 at 7:16 am

Investing in an oversiezed bottle of Queen Helene Mango & Cocoa Butter lotion. Cheap and it does it’s job!

Sonja February 9, 2009 at 9:56 am

❤ Charm, that’s great. Thanks for the sharing!

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