Fact: My skin just really likes to act up during the winter. Whether I'm dealing with breakouts, dryness, or both, she really likes to get out of line when the wind kicks up and the temperature drops. When both occur simultaneously, it leaves me looking dull, flakey, and just overall like I could use a little extra TLC.
Over the years, I've discovered a few holy-grail items across all skincare categories that leave my skin hydrated, radiant, and perfectly prepped for winter weather. They create a shield against the elements and keep my skin looking supple, fresh, and glowing. If you're curious what staples I swear by for dull winter skin, keep scrolling. Lots of winners ahead.
I'm loyal to a few French skincare brands and La Roche-Posay happens to be one of the more affordable ones (phew). The brand's Double Repair Face Moisturizer is soothing, nourishing, and incredibly hydrating. It's oil-free but formulated with a high concentration of prebiotic thermal water, ceramides, niacinamide, and glycerin to keep skin looking fresh and radiant, even during the colder months.
As far as drugstore face creams go, this classic can't be beat. Dermatologists love it because it's sensitive-skin friendly and noncomedogenic yet still provides intense hydration with hyaluronic acid, squalane, ceramides, and glycerin. It's perfect for anyone who struggles with dry skin and acne simultaneously.
I absolutely love using this cream mist in the winter because it's so refreshing and leaves my skin extra dewy. The star ingredient is white leaf tea water that delivers intense and long-lasting hydration throughout the day. Pro tip: It also works great as a winter setting spray for makeup.
Exfoliating toners can be harsh and drying during the winter. If that's the case for you, this ceramide-rich toner offers the perfect solution. It helps your skin maintain its natural protective lipid barrier and protects skin against environmental aggressors.
I'm not even exaggerating when I say this product saved my skin. I've been dealing with some pretty aggressive skin barrier damage for months after going too hard on the tretinoin (I wouldn't recommend) and in a matter of a month and a half of using this serum, my skin looks and feels so much healthier. It's so lightweight yet so deeply hydrating for the skin. It contains multi-molecular weight hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and panthenol—all ingredients my skin desperately needed to recover. I'm so happy with the results and it doesn't irritate or trigger breakouts at all for those who are like me and have acne-prone skin but still desperately need hydration.
Okay, all Biologique products give you an otherworldy glow, but this one does so while delivering serious hydration and youth-enhancing benefits to the skin. It improves texture, tone, and stimulates the production of collagen so skin looks years younger (and anything but dull).
I never shut up about this face oil from Summer Fridays because it's seriously my number one. It's the best face oil I've ever used, and as a bonus, it's completely noncomedogenic so it's safe for reactive, acne-prone skin like mine. My skin always feels so soft and hydrated after I use it—and it stays that way all day. It also just leaves you positively glowing so it's great to use under makeup.
With 10.5% squalane, this fragrance-free hydrating face mask locks moisture into dry winter skin overnight. It helps strengthen the skin's barrier and you'll wake up with a solid hydration-rich glow in the morning. The ingredient list is also pretty minimal so it's a good option for those with sensitive skin.
This Skinfix serum is the holy grail for dull, dry skin. It contains a hydrating triple-lipid complex that's skin similar to restore ceramide and fatty acid levels in the skin. Seaweed and a peony root complex also support the skin's barrier function and visibly enhance radiance.
Scrubbing your skin with makeup wipes or cotton pads doesn't always bode well—especially during the winter when skin is a bit drier. Opt for a cleansing oil to remove your makeup instead like Shiseido's Perfect Cleansing Oil which contains nourishing grape seed to improve dullness.
This Biologique serum is a winter favorite of mine because it contains a blend of oils that help replenish the lipid barrier at the surface of the skin and provides it with immediate protection and comfort.
This little device is pricey, but let me tell you it's fully worth it. It comes with a couple cleansing attachments to deep-clean your skin and another massage attachment that promotes lymphatic drainage. I've been using the lymphatic drainage attachment for five to 10 minutes either in the morning or at night with a face oil, and my skin looks so much healthier and brighter. Aestheticians always stress the importance of lymphatic drainage when it comes to skincare as it de-puffs and promotes the elimination of waste and bacteria. The cleansing attachments are also fabulous to use on days I want to deep clean my pores. The large cleansing attachment is great at loosening up debris in the pores and the smaller attachment works great on blackheads and other hard-to-reach areas around the nose.
The Ordinary formulas are budget-friendly and get the job done. This hyaluronic acid serum contains a crosspolymer that enhances the delivery of hyaluronic acid and helps support water density within the skin. The result is deep hydration and decreased water loss.
I use and love this mask for a few different things—redness, breakouts, and dryness. It helps calm active blemishes with passionflower oil and cornflower water while peony extract and cherry blossom extract help even out skin's texture. A hefty dose of squalane tops off the formula for extra hydration.
I recently wrote a story about this luxury oxygen-infused moisturizer that was used on Megan Fox for her GQ Men of the Year Party glam and knew I had to try it for myself. Normally, I'm pretty picky about what I put on my face because my skin is extremely sensitive and basically breaks out just looking at a product. But this one was just too good to pass up. Element Eight is a new skincare brand that offers a few different moisturizers infused with their patent-pending oxygen-delivery system. Oxygen is so important to add to your skincare routine—especially if you live in a big polluted city like I do. It helps increase collagen production, brightens, protects against environmental damage, and even helps reverse the signs of aging in the skin.
I could go on, but the bottom line is that I love this moisturizer in particular. I've been dealing with some skin barrier damage and this face cream offers so much repair and hydration without clogging my pores. Like I said, I'm usually skeptical trying new things, but I can say that my sensitive skin has done really well with this and it works so well under makeup. Yes, it's a spendy option, but I always think quality skincare is worth it in the long run.
Shawna Hudson has worked in editorial for over six years, with experience covering entertainment, fashion, culture, celebrities, and her favorite topic of all, beauty. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton, with a degree in journalism and has written for other publications such as Bustle, The Zoe Report, Byrdie, Elite Daily, Mane Addicts, and more. She is currently an associate beauty editor at Who What Wear and hopes to continue feeding her (completely out-of-control) beauty obsession as long as she can. Stay up to date on her latest finds on Instagram @shawnasimonee.
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