Dry heat and extreme cold … winter often translates into parched skin. With the skin exposed to such harsh elements, it’s important to take steps to restore your skin’s moisture barrier, says Donna Paty, Kiehl’s national education manager. How? We checked in with several skin experts for their advice on how to win the cold war against your skin.

Start with a proper cleanser to get your skin winter-ready.

Moisturizing lotions and creams are a common remedy to dehydrated skin, but targeted treatment should begin with your cleanser,” says Dr. Cory Torgerson, a facial plastic surgeon based in Toronto. “Unfortunately, many cleansers on the market can strip skin of moisture,” he says. Torgerson cold-weather cleanser of choice? Alyria Hydrating Milk Cleanser, which is loaded with hydrating ingredients such as allantoin, mango butter, and cucumber and avocado extracts. Jenny Kanavaros, a New York-based hair and makeup artist with Judy Inc., agrees that you should start by looking at the cleanser you are using. You want something that is more emollient and hydrating right now, she says. “If you regularly use a gel or foam-based cleanser, which can sometimes leave skin feeling dry and tight, switch to an oil- or cream-based cleanser,” she says. Her favourites include Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil and Dermalogica Essential Cleansing Solution.

Exfoliate regularly.

“Going from indoor heat to the cold outdoors can
dry out your skin and make it flaky and dull,” says Kevin Smith, a Toronto-based hair and makeup artist with Judy Inc. This makes exfoliating a must. “Experiment with what kind of exfoliation works best for you—it could be as simple as using a soft face cloth to slough off skin cells,” he says. One of Kevin’s favourites for gentle exfoliation, which offers the bonus of moisturization, is Olay Regenerist Micro-Exfoliating Wet Cleansing Cloths. Keep in mind that there’s an advantage to exfoliating on the regular. “It’ll enhance the result of the moisturizers you use by allowing them to penetrate well,” says Donna. In addition to exfoliating, you may also want to include a hydrating mask in your weekly regime. “Make it part of your Sunday morning ritual, or as part of you evening bath,” says Kevin, adding that you can even experiment with using a small amount of the mask as your moisturizer.

More ways to keep dry skin at bay on the next page …

Check out our best product picks for dry skin

Stash your summer lotions and switch to products with ingredients proven to give you the extra hydration you need.

“For dry skin, all the research is about ceramides,” says Dr. Skotnicki. “Ceramides are natural lipids (fats) and a major component of skin structure. Dry and sensitive skin types tend to lack ceramides and, as a result, become more susceptible to environmental irritants or changes of season, bringing on dry and sensitive skin issues.” Ceramides work by locking in moisture already present in skin, and they also keep out irritants by forming a protective barrier. To keep your body well moisturized, try a ceramide lotion such as Curel Sensitive Skin Remedy Lotion.

For your face, Jenny recommends using Creme de la Mer along with a hydrating serum such as Hydra Life Pro-Youth Hydrating Serum—both of which she uses on clients. And don’t overlook your beauty sleep as a time to restore you skin. Before going to bed, Donna suggests applying Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. This serum, which is loaded with seven essential oils, botanicals and essential fatty acids, will help to restore the skin’s moisture barrier as you snooze.

Also, take extra precautions if you plan on being outdoors for long periods of time. Dr. Skotnicki recommends applying a barrier cream, such as Prevex Protectant Cream. “It can help prevent the dryness that comes with extreme cold and wind.”

Understand that all skin types, even oily skin, is vulnerable in the winter.

“A lot of people with oily skin think that they are safe during this season,” says Dr. Torgerson. “Oily skin is characterized by excess sebum resulting in a shiny complexion, but this excess sebum does not mean the skin is hydrated. Just as all other skin types, oily skin is vulnerable to the daily internal and external factors responsible for epidermal water loss resulting in dehydration,” he says. Your overactive sebaceous glands boasts a surplus of oil, which causes an imbalanced water-sebum ratio. And the result? The skin’s natural protective barrier is disrupted. So pay special attention to oily skin, too, in the winter.

Stay clean—but not overly so.

“I always tell my patients we are too clean in North America…it is the hypothesis to the rise in atopic conditions such as eczema and asthma. A little dirt is good! In other words don’t wash too much,” says Toronto-based dermatologist Sandy Skotnicki. “One quick shower, under 10 minutes, a day that’s not too hot using minimal soap,” she says. Choose a fragrance-free bar soap, and avoid liquid fragrant body washes.

Photography by Jean-Cladue Lussier

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