Winter Skin Survival Kit

By Jarrod Denson / January 5, 2013

It seems almost inevitable that once the cold air hits, our skin becomes dehydrated and lifeless — but it doesn’t have to be that way. Knowing how to replenish our skin is the key component to battling the dry, damaging effects of winter weather.

As a result of decreased humidity in low temperatures, the natural moisture in our skin evaporates, leading to flakiness—and frustration. “The lesser the water content in the skin, the more dry and coarse the skin will become,” says Nicole Baldwin, founder, Biao Skincare. “In preparation for winter, it’s important to search for products that will not only protect the skin from harsh weather, but also repair, revitalize and rejuvenate the skin inside and out.”

It’s time to surrender your bar soap and start nourishing your skin. Harsh surfactant-based soaps and cleansers contain chemical ingredients and synthetic fragrances that can irritate and dry the skin. “In the winter, the goal is to protect the skin’s natural moisturizing factor,” says Melissa Christenson, cosmetic chemist and co-founder of “Try using mild cream cleansers to retain more of your skin’s natural oils, instead of stripping them away.” TRY: Biao Beauty Rejuvenating Cleanser, $18.50,

Not only is it important to reduce exposure to the elements by covering up when outdoors, it’s also necessary to practice temperature control while washing the skin. Hot water can break down the lipid barriers that retain moisture, causing skin to dry out. Protect the skin by switching to lukewarm showers and rinsing with cold water after cleansing. “Cold water improves the oxygen circulation within the skin, causing the skin to look healthier and more radiant,” says Baldwin. USE: Savane Certified Organic Protective Moisturizer, $90,

Nurturing our skin isn’t specifically based on the products we use, it also relies heavily on how we treat our bodies from the inside out. “If your body isn’t hydrated, your skin won’t be either,” says Lauren von Bernuth, owner and founder of Koru Eco Spa in Rhode Island. Drinking water and limiting caffeine intake are two of the best natural treatments you can give your skin during the winter. For extra hydration, look for a botanical oil and apply moisturizing products to damp skin immediately after bathing to help lock in moisture. TRY: Éminence Herbal Recovery Oil, $76,

When searching for the perfect winter moisturizer, it’s important to find a product that’s safe and effective. Some anti-aging products and chemical ingredients commonly found in moisturizers can irritate dry skin, instead of helping it. Look for a product packed with natural occlusives (plant oils, beeswax, shea butter) and humectants (glycerin) — ingredients that provide barrier protection, attract and hold water in the skin, and increase smoothness, says Christenson. “For mature or severe dry skin conditions, I recommend layering a moisturizer on top of an oil-based serum, especially at night,” she adds. TRY: NYR Organic Frankincense Hydrating Cream, $40,

Winter is a great time to rejuvenate your skin and focus on repairing sun damage. To battle sun spots, fine lines and dry skin, search for a brightening serum with hyaluronic acid — an ingredient that facilitates water retention in body tissue to soften and plump the skin—or argan oil. A daily regimen of gentle cleansing, moisturization and rejuvenation is crucial to maintain healthy skin in the winter. “Once dryness sets in, it’s much more difficult to get skin back to a hydrated state,” says Christenson. “So it’s true that an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure.” TRY: Block Island Organics Brightening Serum, $49,