Let’s face it, no other part of your body takes more abuse than your face. It is directly exposed to the harshest elements: intense sun, frigid temperatures, whipping winds, dry indoor heating, pollution and stress. These exposures strip your skin of moisture and can leave your face feeling tight, dry, itchy and irritated. The solution? Start every morning with an effective facial moisturizer to keep your skin healthy and hydrated all day. Proper hydration maintains soft and supple skin in the colder months while helping maintain a more youthful appearance all year round. It’s a no-brainer!
Remember to adjust your moisturizer as you would your winter wardrobe and transition to heavier products like creams rather than lotions or gels. Creams are thicker and therefore better at locking in moisture. They also contain more oils that boost hydration because the skin absorbs them readily. Even those with oily or acne-prone skin can benefit from thicker creams in the winter. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way. A thin layer is all you need for adequate hydration without clogging pores or worsening acne. It’s also best to avoid products with fragrances or preservatives because they can irritate already-dry, fragile skin. Another tip: Stick to products specifically formulated for the face—facial skin has unique qualities that require special consideration.
Here are my picks for facial moisturizers that hydrate in the winter (and also pack in some extra benefits).
Feels lightweight, but packs in moisture. Contains essential fatty acids, allowing it to absorb rapidly to reinforce the skin’s lipid barrier. Shea butter and aloe vera provide an added punch to quench and soothe dry skin. My patients are big fans of this cream, especially for quickly eliminating dryness around the mouth, nose and eyes. It’s a thicker product, so a thin layer is more than sufficient. Fragrance-free and suitable for most skin types.
For severely dry or sensitive skin: Avène Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream
A great product for those suffering from or prone to very dry patches on their faces. This product is thicker than other facial creams, but excels in cooling and calming irritated skin. It quickly eliminates dry and red winter itch. Key active ingredients include micronized sucralfate and thermal spring water, two components that rebuild the skin barrier and reduce inflammation. Patients with more irritable winter skin will love this product. It feels creamy upon application and rapidly quenches even the most inflamed skin.
For acne- or redness-prone skin: EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer
Gets consistent rave reviews from my patients with dry, sensitive skin or rosacea. It applies silky smooth, lightweight and nongreasy. Contains blockbuster ingredients like hyaluronic acid to help the skin retain essential moisture and enhance suppleness. Also great for those with rosacea because it contains vitamin B-3 (niacinamide), which has anti-inflammatory properties to minimize the appearance of redness. Oil-free, fragrance-free, noncomedogenic—making it suitable for oily or combination skin types. Apply liberally on entire face before using makeup or sunscreen products.
For sun-damaged or mature skin: Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Balance
This cream stands up to the harshest conditions and is ideal for those with persistent facial dryness. It glides onto skin easily and absorbs in no time. It’s compounded with potent antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin E and gingko to protect and repair damaged skin. Also packs potent plant extracts as an added punch to keep skin soft, supple and firm.