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After braving several winters in New York City, I can corroborate that this time of year is downright brutal. Everything from my mood to my skin takes a beating, and since most days I have more control over one than the other, crafting the perfect skincare regimen to combat the bitter cold has been my focus lately.
Despite dealing with an oily complexion most of the year, my face turns bone-dry come January. A complete overhaul of my regular routine isn’t necessary, but I’ve found making adjustments — like adding a facial steamer, or switching to a thicker nighttime cream — ensures my face stays hydrated and soft during this time.
I’ve tested all the below picks on their own, but, when brought together into one complete regimen, they truly create the ideal winter skincare line-up.
Here are the eight products keeping my skin sane this season.
Plum Beauty Facial Steamer
If your regimen lacks a facial steamer, here’s why you should pick one up ASAP: The skincare device supplies the skin with added hydration, opens up the pores for better absorption of your facial masks, serums, and creams, and even relieves sinus pressure. While you should be careful not to overuse a facial steamer (going overboard can have the opposite effect on your skin), engulfing your face in soothing steam once per week can do wonders. I keep this Plum Beauty Facial Steamer in my bathroom, and plug it in whenever my skin needs an instant pick-me-up. Close your eyes and it’s almost like you’re at the spa.
Youth to the People Mandelic Acid + Superfood Unity Exfoliant
I’ve mostly avoided chemical exfoliants out of fear I’d piss off my sensitive skin. Little did I know, this forgiving formula from Youth to the People was basically made for me; it provides all the benefits with no irritation. Three gentle acids are paired with superfood antioxidants to lift away dead skin, unclog congested pores, and reduce excess oil production. After a month of consistent use, my skin is so smooth that foundation no longer looks cakey when applied.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
I think it’s safe to say if you haven’t heard of The Ordinary, you’re probably living under a rock. Clear-cut formulas packaged in simple bottles is their game, meaning what you see is what you actually get. In addition to the brand’s transparency, their formulas really do work — my skin drinks up the hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 every night, allowing it to plump away fatigue, keep blemishes away, and leave my skin more evenly toned with every drop. Even better, it’s so affordable, I don’t have to worry about splurging on the next bottle.
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Cleanser
When it comes to cleansers, I’ve found that less is more. Using a simple, gentle formula that won’t strip your skin or leave it tight and dry is the way to go this time of year, and this hyaluronic acid-based wash is it. The dermatologist-tested formula removes every lick of makeup on my skin, and leaves my face feeling incredibly soft. According to the brand, the cleanser will continue to hydrate your skin 48 hours after use.
Happy Dance CBD Look Alive Face Moisturizer
I’m not a huge fan of thick, emollient face creams. That said, I’ve made an exception for the Happy Dance CBD Look Alive Face Moisturizer. I’ll reach for this on the days my skin is feeling ultra-parched, and come morning, any redness and dry flakes are nearly resolved. Avocado oil, hyaluronic acid and full spectrum CBD instantly revive stressed-out skin — and when your skin is always stressed like mine, it’s a godsend.
The Ouai Hand Lotion
My hands have never been able to handle the bitter cold. I experience intense dry patches and cracks so painful, they sometimes bleed. Terrible, I know. This time around, I’ve been relying on The Ouai Hand Lotion, which has an avocado, rosehip, and jojoba oil blend that softens my hands with every use. Plus, the formula’s notes of citrus, rose, magnolia, and linden blossom leave behind a subtle, pleasant scent. It’s 16-ounce size will no doubt take all season to get through.
Fable & Mane HoliRoots Pre-wash Hair Treatment Oil
I keep a bottle of this pre-shampoo hair treatment oil in my bathroom cabinet, and use it several times per week to nourish my scalp. It contains an active blend of holistic plant roots that hydrate dry patches, heal damaged follicles, and strengthen the scalp for healthier hair growth. Essentially, it’s a blessing for people like myself that regularly deal with an itchy scalp. I apply a generous amount across my head, and let it work it’s magic for up to 10 minutes before rinsing.
Cle Cosmetics Lip Care Trio
I have a terrible habit of picking and biting at my lips. Pair that with the effects of winter, and I’m left with embarrassingly dry skin there. I’ve tried tons of lip balms to remedy this disaster over the years to no avail, but within one use of the Cle Cosmetics Lip Care Trio, I finally saw a difference. The set of three hydrating treatments — a gentle lip peel, a deeply nourishing lip oil, and a vitamin E-packed gloss — reminded me of what it’s like to have smooth lips that can handle even the driest liquid lipstick.