By Erica Metzger; Styled by Carla Engler
When temperatures drop, the odds skyrocket that your skin will feel tight, become flaky, and look red, thanks to culprits such as the season's cool air, dry wind, and low humidity (both indoors and outdoors), as well as bad skin habits, such as overly hot showers and inadequate moisturizing. The resulting dryness is bad news for your face. "Water helps preserve the hydration of the outer layers of the skin, creating an effective barrier that protects the body from bacteria and irritants," says Kenneth Beer, MD, director of the Palm Beach Esthetic Center, in Florida. Here, a winter skincare plan that will keep your skin healthy and better protected.
If Your Skin Is Oily
Although you get some protection from sebum (oil produced by the sebaceous glands that also helps your skin retain moisture), it's not always enough. "The surface can look greasy and shiny even while the underlying layers are not properly hydrated," notes Jody Alpert Levine, MD, owner and cofounder of Plastic Surgery & Dermatology of NYC, in New York City. Clues that your oily skin is crying for moisture include tightness, flaky patches, and sensitivity to products that you can normally tolerate in warmer months.
Hydration Rx for Oily Skin
Cleanse: Cleansers with exfoliating and antibacterial properties, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, are great for keeping the skin clear, but in winter switch to products with lower percentages of these active ingredients or more-moisturizing versions.
Moisturize: A lightweight, oil-free moisturizer will keep water in the upper layers of your skin without clogging your pores. (Remember, oil doesn't equal hydration, but water does.) Also keep in mind that even if you may not need a moisturizer, you still need to apply a sunscreen -- yes, even in winter.
Treat: If you regularly use an acne treatment product to keep oil and breakouts in check, "you may need to cut back," notes dermatologist David Bank, MD, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, in Mount Kisco, New York. Try replacing benzoyl peroxide with salicylic acid, which has similar antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties but is less drying. Extra: A weekly pore-cleaning mask is still ideal for ridding the skin of excess oil, but switch to one that also contains moisturizing ingredients.