Celeb Facialists Say These Are Only Skincare Products Worth Applying This Winter


(Image credit: @cindycrawford)

Nothing is weirder than our skin the minute clock strikes winter. Dryness, flakiness, redness, irritation—a confusing and frustrating combination of all four—from roughly November onward, our complexions are on their very worst behavior. Of course, there are quite literally thousands of products on the market all geared to address the above offenders, but grappling with which formulas to use in addition to when and how to apply them can be downright mystifying. So much so that investing in any kind of product regimen barely seems worth it. We also live in fear of spending a fortune on a formula lineup that ultimately won't work or—gasp—might make our winter skin concerns even worse.

Now that the buzz and bustle of the holiday season are officially behind us, we're still faced with a few soul-hardening months of winter and the annoying skin disruptions that tag along. And if you're like us, said disruptions were probably made worse thanks to the surplus of travel, bubbly, and cookies imbibed over the holidays and the dearth of sleep and skin upkeep. Oops. Luckily, we have industry-leading skincare experts on speed dial here at WWW HQ, and we've called on them to lend our befuddled winter complexions a helping hand. Celebrity facialists Shani Darden and Renée Rouleau are responsible for some of the healthiest, most glowing, winter-proof faces in Hollywood, so we asked them how they tackle common winter skin woes and what products and regimens they swear by for making it through the bone-chilling months unscathed. Keep scrolling for all of their expert intel.

The Most Common Winter Skin Concerns

If there's one thing I've learned from working with Renée Rouleau on my own skin (she's been my skin fairy godmother ever since I started my career as a beauty editor), it's that skin is complicated, and even umbrella terms like irritation, redness, acne, etc. are highly complicated and highly individual. So to start, if you're truly struggling with major skincare concerns, the best thing you can do for your skin is to see a reputable expert. That being said, understanding the most common winter skin concerns and how the best facialists in the industry like to tackle them is a step in the right direction.

Winter irritations can be caused by an influx of perpetrators, but according to Darden and Rouleau, frustrating skin symptoms like dullness, dryness, irritation, redness, sensitivity, and flakiness are the most common complaints they hear throughout the season. Oftentimes, these issues are caused or exacerbated by the cold, dry temperatures and/or a whirlwind of signature winter activity like travel, alcohol, inflammation-causing foods, lack of sleep, and more. Additionally, if you notice your summertime skincare formulas are worsening the situation, it's time to put them on the back burner and, as Rouleau explains, always avoid ingredients like sulfates, harmful alcohols (SD alcohol 40, denatured alcohol, ethanol and isopropyl alcohol), and bar soaps which contain harmful binders that mess with your skin's natural pH and moisture barrier.

"Listen to what your skin is telling you," says Rouleau. "If you are starting to feel or see that your products aren't working as well as they used to, it may be time to adjust your skincare routine. Whether it's from season to season or climate to climate, the skin is constantly trying to adjust itself to keep it balanced, and because of this, you may need to adjust your routine."

Your Essential Winter Skin Kit

A Gentle Cleanser

A Moisture-Protecting Toner

Specialized Serums

A Nourishing, Oil-Free Moisturizer

Sun Protection

A Lip Balm

A Humidifier

Your A.M. Regimen

1. Cleanse

2. Layer Serums

3. Use Protection

Your P.M. Regimen

1. Cleanse Skin and Remove Makeup

2. Layer Serums

3. Moisturize

4. Tap On Some Eye Cream

5. End With Facial Oil

Optional Additions

Spot Treatments


Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.