3 Professional Glow Experts Share The Winter Skincare Routines They Swear By

Question one: Have you ever wanted to play fly on the wall to witness each and every step of a celebrity esthetician's skincare routine? Same. Question two: Has the cold, dry winter weather ever left you and your cranky skin in the lurch? Flaky… Dry… Chapped… Red? Double same.

We're officially knee-deep within the deep dark depths of winter, and we'd be lying if we said our skin's overall health and glow-hydration ration hasn't been severely compromised. However, we have noticed the skin of our favorite celebrities (and their A-list skin experts) seems to be doing business as usual—clear, calm, dewy, plump...you get the picture.

To get to the bottom of their healthy, balanced, all-around-radiant winter secrets, we went straight to the glow-giving source: three celebrity skin experts who also happen to be super-savvy founders of their very own skincare lines. (In other words, they know a thing or two about keeping skin on good behavior year-round—regardless of frigid temperatures or moisture-devoid conditions.)

Below, I asked some of the best women in the industry—Shani Darden, Renée Rouleau, and Vanessa Lee—to share their skin type, winter skin concerns, and the exact morning and evening skincare routines they swear by to get through the season unscathed. Keep scrolling!

Shani Darden



Skin type: “I have fairly normal skin with an oily T-zone.”

Biggest winter skin concerns: “My biggest skincare concerns in the winter generally involve keeping my skin hydrated, glowing, and healthy without needing to use a heavy moisturizer that can cause congestion.”

How she tweaks her routine: “If I’m feeling a little extra dry, I’ll add in Dr. Nigma Talib Hydrating and Plumping Serum No 1 ($185) to hydrate and plump up the skin. I also love to use a humidifier in my bedroom. It adds moisture into the air and helps your skin hold on to hydration better. Sleeping with the heat on can really dry out your skin, and I find a humidifier really helps to offset this.”

Shani's A.M. Winter Skin Routine:

Step 1: A Gentle Cleansing

“I love a gentle yet effective cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin. My Daily Cleansing Serum ($38) features oat bran extract to repair the skin’s barrier, and glycerin, jojoba, and sodium hyaluronate to help the skin hold on to moisture. I love to remove cleanser with two pieces of wet cotton gauze. It helps to gently exfoliate and make sure all traces of cleanser are removed.”

Step 2: A Protective & Healing Serum

After cleansing, I apply iS Clinical’s Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus ($148) to nourish and protect the skin. It’s a great option in the winter especially because it’s not going to be too harsh on the skin.

Step 3: A Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum

“To add an extra layer of hydration, I’ll apply a hyaluronic acid serum like Dr. Nigma Talib’s Hydrating and Plumping Serum No 1 ($185) or iS Clinical’s Hydra-Cool Serum ($90).”

Step 4: A Lightweight Sunscreen

“Wearing sunscreen every single day is the most important thing you can do for your skin, and you HAVE to still apply it every day, even in the winter! I love one that’s lightweight yet hydrating like this one from Supergoop!”

Shani's P.M. Winter Skin Routine:

Step 1: A Gentle Cleansing

“I’m diligent about washing my face every single night. If the skin isn’t cleansed thoroughly, your treatment products won’t be able to properly absorb. I use my Daily Cleansing Serum ($38) and remove it with two pieces of wet gauze.”

Step 2: A Brightening Toner

“After cleansing at night, I love to use a toner. It’s a great step to wrap up your cleansing routine. My Daily Toning Essence ($52) brightens the skin with sake water, and sebocytine helps to regulate sebum production to keep pores clear.”

Step 3: Exfoliation OR Retinol

“Many people are scared to exfoliate in the winter when the skin is drier. However, dry and sensitive skin still needs to be exfoliated! You might not be able to exfoliate as often as other skin types, but it’s still so important. One to two times a week, I use Dr. Dennis Gross’s Alpha Beta Daily Peel Pads ($88) to exfoliate.

“A good, gentle way to exfoliate if you have more sensitive skin is to use gauze to remove your cleanser. The gauze will gently exfoliate the skin in the process, resulting in brighter skin. Exfoliation is necessary to remove the dead layer of skin on the surface so that the hydrating products you use later on can do their job!”

“On nights when I’m not exfoliating, I use my Retinol Reform ($95). It’s an amazing multitasking product to address several different concerns. It combines lactic acid and retinol to speed up cellular turnover to bring fresh skin to the surface, as well as boost collagen, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, reduce hyperpigmentation, and help keep the skin clear. The best part is that it’s not going to cause flaking, so you can use it in the winter without worrying about it drying out your skin.”

Step 4: A Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum

“After Retinol Reform ($95), I apply a hyaluronic acid serum again. It’s such a great way to add extra hydration without needing to rely on a heavy moisturizer, which can cause congestion.”

Step 5: A Plumping Eye Cream

“It’s best to apply eye cream before your moisturizer to allow it to fully absorb. Eye creams are formulated with smaller molecules than moisturizers so that they can penetrate the delicate skin around the eye. iS Clinical’s Youth Eye Complex ($98) is my favorite to plump up and hydrate the under-eye area.”

Step 6: A High-Quality Moisturizer

“Finding a great moisturizer that works well for your skin type is so important. For more normal to oily skin, My Daily Oil-Free Moisturizer ($42) is a lightweight, fast-absorbing moisturizer formulated with sodium hyaluronate and glycerin to draw moisture to the skin and help it hold on to it. If your skin is on the drier side, I love iS Clinical’s Reparative Moisture Emulsion ($90) because it’s lightweight yet deeply hydrating.”

Renée Rouleau



Skin type: “Simply put, my skin is generally combination but can feel dry in the winter with some signs of aging. (Take this Skin Type Quiz to learn more about skin types—I’m #6!)”

Biggest winter skin concerns: “My biggest skin concern in the wintertime is keeping my skin moist and hydrated so that fine lines show less and the skin doesn’t look dull. On my body, my concern is keeping the skin well exfoliated and moisturized to help keep away dryness.”

How she tweaks her routine: “One of the main changes to my skincare routine in the winter is adding in a serum-infused toner. I use my Moisture Infusion Toner ($43), which is considered to be an essence. It’s so silky when it goes on the skin, and completely hydrates the skin and makes my skin look and feel so plump and fresh. Bouncy skin for the win!”

“I also add in a skin oil on nights when it’s really cold and the air is dry. I take a few drops of my Pro Remedy Oil ($69) and massage it in my hands, and then pat it on my skin as the last step in my nighttime routine. By using this, it provides a protective barrier over my skin to help prevent moisture evaporation from my skin.”

Renée's A.M. Winter Skin Routine:

Step 1: A Low-Foam, Sulfate-Free Cleansing

“I always cleanse in the morning. Some people think you don’t need to wash your face because you don’t have anything on it, but I don’t believe in that theory. I want to remove my nighttime products along with any oil that my skin produces so I can create a clean canvas to ensure my protective daytime products work their best. I use my low-foaming, sulfate-free cleanser called Moisture Protecting Cleanser ($37) in the winter.”

Step 2: A Hydrating Toner

“Then what’s particularly important in the winter is to get my next product on within 60 seconds, otherwise moisture will evaporate out of the skin. I’ll put on my Moisture Infusion Toner ($43) and apply it generously.”

Step 3: A Vitamin C & E Serum

“While the toner is still damp on my face, I’ll apply a no-sting Vitamin C & E Treatment ($68), and I’ll let it sink in for 60 seconds.”

Step 4: A Non-Greasy Sunscreen

“After that, I’ll use the most important daytime product, which is sun protection. I do two generous applications—one to my face, and then will squeeze out more and do a second application to the front and sides of my neck. My Weightless Protection SPF 30 ($58) is my favorite because it doesn’t feel greasy or clog my pores, and it won’t pill up under makeup.”

Step 5: A Brightening Eye Serum

“If my eyes look tired and puffy, I’ll dab on a brightening eye serum like my Vitamin C Eye Brightener ($60). It works great under makeup, too. From there, I’ll put on my makeup.”

Renée's P.M. Winter Skin Routine:

Step 1: Double Cleansing

“At night, my skin is dirty from oil being produced but also from touching my face all day, even if I don’t try to, so I really want to clean the skin well and reduce bacteria to reset the skin. I’ll do a double-cleanse if I’m wearing makeup. My first step is to remove makeup with Soothing Aloe Cleanser ($31); then I’ll use my Rapid Response Detox Cleanser ($41).”

Step 2: A Breakout-Banishing Treatment Mask

“If it’s around my monthly cycle and I feel some breakouts coming, I’ll do a post-cleanse reset with my Rapid Response Detox Masque ($64). I’ll leave it on for five to 10 minutes to reduce the microbial count on my skin, which can help to prevent clogged pores and breakouts.”

Step 3: A Toner

“Then I’ll rinse off the mask, apply toner, and leave it damp.”

Step 4: A Rotating Lineup of Targeted Serums

“I rotate between different serums at night all throughout the winter. I like to give my skin a variety of ingredients. My Advanced Resurfacing Serum ($87) has retinol, my Pore & Wrinkle Perfecting Serum ($50) has exfoliating acids, and my Firm + Repair Overnight Serum ($73) is a hydrating peptide-firming formula.”

Step 5: A Hydrating Moisturizer

“After my serums, I seal everything in with this moisturizing cream.”

Step 6: A Reparative Eye Cream

“I always use an eye cream at night. I use this one sparingly applied to the bone around the eye, and then as mentioned above, I’ll pat on a skin oil when needed.”

Vanessa Lee

Skin type: “I have combination and sensitive skin. I mainly experience an overproduction of oil in my T-zone and chin, which leads to whiteheads and occasional superficial breakouts. Simultaneously, I can also experience tightness and dryness in other areas of the face like my cheeks. Because I’m in the medical cosmetic world and am completely fascinated with skincare, I’ve been able to safely and properly nurture my skin so it becomes more balanced, but if I don't invest in the right products, my skin very easily reveals its natural state of imbalance.”

Biggest winter skin concerns: “During the winter, my biggest concern is making sure I don’t dry out and am able to maintain a dewy look. I also love the wintertime for addressing sun damage from earlier in the year. It’s a great time to have a skin reset!”

How she tweaks her routine: “During the winter, I make sure to increase my use of sleeping masks (my go-to mask ingredient is organic oats to help calm and nourish the skin) for an extra boost of hydration. I also take advantage of not having as much time in the sun, and I incorporate a brightening serum along with retinol to drive the brightening ingredients deeper.”

Vanessa's A.M. Winter Skin Routine:

Step 1: A Soothing Gel Cleanser

“This cleanser contains fermented rice water and licorice root for skin brightening as well as PHA, which is a larger molecule than AHA, providing a slow, gentle exfoliation.”

Step 2: A De-Puffing Eye Jelly

“Next, I’ll use my Youthful Eye Jelly ($47) from The Things We Do. The botanical hyaluronic acid mixed with the depuffing properties of periwinkle and cucumber, and a dash of licorice to brighten under-eyes are a total winning combo for day and nighttime use.”

Step 3: A Specialty Facial Oil

“This Isla Oil ($64) is a super-blend of oils that help lock in natural moisture without congesting the skin. It's my go-to product instead of moisturizer because most of them actually break me out!”

Step 4: A Natural, Moisturizing Sunscreen

“Last but not least, this is a smooth, light, dewy alternative to most matte sunscreens. It’s a silky, safe sunscreen with plenty of choices for darker skin types!”

Vanessa's P.M. Winter Skin Routine:

Step 1: A Gentle Cleansing

“Shani Darden’s Daily Cleansing Serum ($38) features olive, chicory root, and oat bran, which all work together to help soothe and gently revive the skin after a long day.”

Step 2: An Exfoliating Cleanser

“I like to do a second cleanse in the evenings to remove excess debris, sweat, and makeup from the day. I use my exfoliating cleanser which has tiny jojoba exfoliant beads along with a light mix of AHA sand BHAs to brighten the skin.”

Step 3: A Refining Toner

“I’ve never seen true results from a toner until I started using this one. It contains a high dose of birch milk, which is a tree sap containing amino acids, to help fight congestion as well as dullness.”

Step 4: A Gentle Retinol

“This retinol combines vitamin A with hyaluronic acid, green tea, and gotu kola for deep cell renewal with a hug.”

Step 5: A Lifting Sleep Mask—4 Times a Week

“Four times a week, I finish off my week with this jelly sleeping mask. It is soaked in organic oats, B5, and amino acids to help repair the skin through the harsher winter weather.”

Up Next: And Now, 14 Exfoliators So Good Your Face Will Practically Sparkle This Season