The Only Products That Soothe My Perpetually Irritated Winter Skin
Every year, like clockwork, as soon as we hit peak winter, my usually sensitive skin goes into overdrive. The dry conditions, wind, and fluctuating temps put my easily irritated skin on high alert—cue redness, patchiness, and sometimes even burning. I have mild rosacea, so I'm used to a bit of redness, which I have my go-to solutions for, but this is next-level irritation. I also have this fun little eczema patch around my nose that likes to flare up this time of year, so suffice it to say that my skin is generally unhappy in the winter.
Thankfully, after much trial and error plus the advice of my skin-savior aesthetician (shout-out to Vanessa!), I've zeroed in on a few products that come to my rescue and instantly soothe my irritated winter skin. I don't necessarily use all of these at the same time, but some combination of the below is on permanent rotation for me during the winter months. From thick moisturizers to nourishing serums to ultra-hydrating masks, these are the products I'd be lost without.
Of course, moisturizers are the first thing that comes to mind in the winter when your skin is feeling extra dry, but some do the trick better than others for me. Key ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, polypeptides, and hyaluronic acid are particularly helpful in soothing winter skin.
If you have eczema, this one is a lifesaver. The colloidal oatmeal helps relieve irritation and soothe any itching or burning, while the shea butter moisturizes and protects the skin's barrier. I've also noticed after using this for a while that the eczema flare-up I usually have around my nose hasn't appeared, so consider me sold.
This is a newer discovery for me. I had heard goat milk was helpful for soothing dry and stressed skin but was honestly skeptical. Then I tried this cream and am now a believer. I like this one for during the day, as it's moisturizing without feeling heavy, so I can apply makeup on top and don't look greasy by the end.
The name says it all—the silky whipped consistency leaves skin feeling plump and hydrated. Also containing goat milk, it uses essential fatty acids to soothe skin and deeply condition.
You've probably heard about Tatcha's Water Cream already, but I'm here to tell you the hype is real. This hydrating cream is somehow ultra hydrating and lightweight at the same time, perfect for under makeup. The combination of Japanese ingredients and botanicals leaves skin feeling calm and radiant.
SERUMS + OILS
Finding the right serums and oils to soothe winter skin is key, as they penetrate the skin deeper and can be layered with other products to really maximize hydration.
This is my holy grail. The Elaluz Beauty Oil is made of nourishing Brazilian ingredients that moisturize, condition, and repair the skin barrier. Your skin feels instantly hydrated upon application, but the main reason I love it is for the way it looks under makeup. Most oils leave me feeling too greasy for daytime use, but this one is lightweight and absorbs quickly, so it's perfect for under makeup. Oh, and it's EWG verified clean, so I feel extra confident using it every day.
I've never met an IS Clinical product I didn't love, but this is my number one. This hydrating serum actually helps heal irritated skin. It's packed with olive leaf extract, which is a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, so your skin looks and feels better long-term.
My aesthetician turned me on to this, and I owe her big time for it—the soothing gel formula calms skin and reduces redness immediately. Packed with hyaluronic acid, cucumber, thyme, and botanicals, it alleviates sensitivity upon contact. This is the one I reach for first when my sensitive skin starts to flare up.
Vintner's Daughter is another brand that's totally worth the hype. This serum contains 22 of the world's most nutrient-rich botanicals for nourishing and restorative moisture, and my skin loves it. It's definitely on the pricey side, but it does wonders to soothe my skin, and a little goes a long way—you only use about five drops.
Specifically formulated for dry, dehydrated skin, Mara's Universal Face Oil feels like it instantly quenches your skin's thirst. It feels ultra-luxurious and provides a nice plump glow.
You know when your skin is so irritated it feels like it's radiating heat? Enter the IS Clinical Hydra-Cool Serum. It has an instant cooling effect thanks to the botanicals, antioxidants, and hyaluronic acid. It replenishes moisture and calms even the most sensitive skin. It's also great post-beach in the summer or post-sauna, as the cooling effect is just divine.
I love applying this Chanel hydrating serum before my moisturizer in the morning for a major burst of hydration. It contains Blue Ginger PFA which is a powerful antioxidant that helps reinforce skin's natural defense system, meaning skin is better protected from harsh weather conditions.
Masks are winter skin's best friend. They deliver a major boost to your complexion and provide some much-needed TLC. Masks are specifically formulated to penetrate the skin efficiently and deeper than other products, so a hydrating version in the winter is just what the doctor ordered.
Packed with niacinamide, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants, Summer Fridays' Jet Lag Mask is like a drink of water for winter skin. It can be used as a mask or moisturizer, but I prefer to use it as a mask after a nice warm shower at night.
You already heard me wax poetic about the SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel. Now meet the mask version. It provides immediate relief to skin experiencing sensitivity, redness, or inflammation and provides the most relieving cooling sensation upon application. It's a true winter skin hero.
Hello, superberries, squalane, and hyaluronic acid! This overnight mask makes your skin feel hydrated, plump, and velvety. Plus, it's full of clean ingredients that don't leave a greasy residue.
Much like my beloved Hydra-Cool Serum, the Hydra-Intensive Mask instantly cools and calms irritated skin thanks to the professional-strength formula. Its powerful ingredients include hyaluronic acid for deep hydration and rosemary leaf for calming inflammation, so you feel it working instantly.
This is the mask I reach for when I want some serious spa-like TLC. It nourishes weather-beaten skin thanks to ingredients like macadamia oil and bisabolol, which have hydrating and natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
It sounds counterintuitive, but exfoliating in the winter is extremely important when it comes to calming skin. Buffing away dead skin cells makes room for fresh new cells and increases the absorption of your products so those hydrating ingredients can get to work.
These peel pads are the only exfoliating product I've found that causes zero irritation to my sensitive skin. It was created by my aforementioned angel of an aesthetician, Vanessa Hernandez, and formulated for all skin types—even sensitive. Exfoliating ingredients like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids are balanced out by hydrating niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to avoid irritation. I use this once a week, and that seems to be the perfect amount for my skin.
Don't ignore the rest of your skin! My body is equally parched in the winter, so I always have a moisturizing body cream on heavy rotation. There's nothing better than hydrating from head to toe after a shower—your skin will thank you.
This French-pharmacy brand is one of my favorites, offering quality products specifically targeting sensitive skin at affordable price points. The body balm melts into your skin and absorbs quickly for instant hydration without that sticky feeling.
If you're looking for a clean, unscented body lotion that actually works, this one's for you. Nècessaire's entire product line is A+, but my personal favorite is the body lotion—it quenches your skin's thirst without leaving you feeling greasy.
Another great unscented option is this one from Biossance. Made with ultra-hydrating squalane and skin barrier–friendly niacinamide, this body cream leaves you feeling nourished and silky soft.
The hydrating B5 and grape-seed oil deeply nourish while delivering essential fatty acids to the skin in this Malin +Goetz favorite. Oh, and it smells heavenly.