Winter skin tips – what the experts want you to know

Dry face. Parched lips. Cracked feet. Itchy hands. Yep, winter is here. So, how do you combat the sort of temps that leave your skin dull, dehydrated and defeated?  

The skin experts reveal their tips to combat common winter skin problems.

Symptom: Skin feels tight and dehydrated 

Wind chill, indoor heating, and other environmental factors can cause an onslaught of dry patches, tightness and fine lines. Put simply: dehydrated skin. 

According to Sarah Mamo, a Dermal Therapist and Founder of Luminous Skin Clinic, dehydrated skin (not to be mistaken for dry skin, which is caused by a lack of oil production), results from reduced moisture in the air due to temperature and humidity changes. 

A good way to identify whether skin is dehydrated is to pinch your cheek. If it’s wrinkling instead of holding its shape, then your skin cells are probably thirsty for some h20. Another surefire sign of dehydrated skin is if it feels super tight after cleansing.

The cure:

Drink more water
No surprises here – it’s extremely important you keep up your inner hydration levels to satiate dry skin. ‘Anywhere upward of two litres is a good base line,’ says Angelina Veljanoski, a Skin Therapist and Director of Skin Angel

Invest in tech
To combat skin-stripping dry from indoor air, you’ll need to bring in the big guns. ‘Invest in a quality humidifier and use it at night while you sleep to help keep moisture in the air so your skin can stay moist and supple,’ recommends Mamo.

Rework your skin regimen
A strong skin regimen can go a long way to preventing a winter-ravaged face. 

‘On cold days, use an oil-based cleanser that is designed to prevent moisture loss and avoid using harsh cleansers or bar soap,’ says Mamo.

As an added step, she recommends misting skin with a refreshing toner after cleansing and throughout the day to reduce tightness and lock in moisture.

Face oils can also be beneficial for parched complexions during wintertime – even oily skin types (remember: oils cancel out oils). Look for formulas brimming with argan, squalane, sweet almond, and camellia oils – known for their ability to moisturise without clogging pores.

No winter skincare routine is complete without a thicker-than-thick face cream and a serum layered on top. Veljanoski advises selecting formulas that are packed with antioxidants, peptides, vitamins and humectants – everything dehydrated skin needs to function properly.

‘Introducing a thicker emollient moisturiser is key to maintaining the presence and efficacy of your serums, while aiding in the proper moisturisation of the skin,’ says Veljanoski.

In an effort to hyper-hydrate and soothe, Veljanoski also recommends prepping and priming the skin with a quality exfoliant for better product absorption.

Don’t forget your peepers
Dehydrated skin can often make fine lines and creases around the eyes more pronounced.

‘The skin around the eye area is extremely fragile and, if neglected in winter, can become dry, puffy, and congested,’ says Mamo.

Reach for a fatigue-fighting, quenching eye treatment. 

Find a face mask
Finally, drenching dehydrated complexions with a hydrating face mask once to twice per week is key to protecting skin against the dreaded frost. 

‘An addition of an active like Hyaluronic Acid will help to increase hydration as it can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water, therefore hydrating the skin without creating more oil,’ explains Jennifer Bonham, a Dermal Clinician at Liberty Belle Skin Centre.

Beauty Editor’s choice: 1. Phillips Air Humidifier, $199,, 2. Medik8 Lipid Balance Cleansing Oil Serum, $52,,  3. Ella Bache Rose Hydration Mist, $39,, 4. Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil, $57,, 5. Mukti Marigold Hydrating Creme, $74.95,, 6. The Ordinary Buffet Peptide Serum, $24.90,, 7. Ultraceuticals Ultra Gentle Exfoliating Gel, $66,, 8. Babor ReVersive Pro Youth Eye Cream, $174,, 9. Mesoestetic Hydra Vital Face Mask, $96,, 10. Fitcover Pump-It-Up Collagen Powder, $89,

Symptom: Skin feels red, raw and itchy

Between braving the elements and the stress that comes with seasonal changes, itchy, dry and flaky patches can be an uncomfortable reality, often classed as ‘sensitised skin’.

‘Some people are born with sensitive skin; other people have it temporarily during certain seasons,’ explains Mamo. 

‘People with truly sensitive skin may find conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and rosacea may become more irritating at this time,’ adds Bonham. 

The cure:

Steer clear of these products
No matter what time of year, Mamo says that those with both sensitised and sensitive skin can benefit from steering clear of foam cleansers (which can dry the skin) and harsh abrasive exfoliators (which can trigger irritation). 

‘Be sure to toss any face washes or moisturisers with drying ingredients, such as fragrances or additives, in favour of gentle formulas with witch hazel, chamomile or oatmeal,’ says Mamo.

Also on the ditch list? ‘Skincare products with alcohols, sulphates and retinoids, since they can not only irritate but dry out skin, too,’ says Mamo.

Think about how you warm yourself
Mamo recommends supplementing hot water in the shower for tepid water and limiting how often you blast the central heating.

Up your vitamin E
According to Veljanoski, Vitamin E is another great skin-soother. ‘Vitamin E is anti-inflammatory, reduces collagen breakdown and enhances the skin’s hydration by decreasing trans epidermal water loss,’ she says. 

Beauty Editor’s choice: 1. Avene XeraCalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Cleansing Oil, $35.95,, 2. Ellus & Krue pH Balance Gel Toner, $65,, 3. Happy Skincare Perfectly Happy Light Anti-Oxidant Cream, $34.95,, $59.95,, 4. Lancome Clarifique Dual Essence, $150,, 5. Salt by Hendrix Nourish + Revive Oil, $34.95,, 6. Bioeffect EGF Day Serum, $195.00,

Symptom: Skin looks dull and tired

It’s during the coldest months of the year that your skin begins to lose its lustre, getting a dull, winter pallor from hours spent indoors.

That’s because the skin is less able to protect itself, which can lead to cracks in the outer layer of skin, an overload of congestion, loss of hydration, and dullness. 

The cure:

Ditch the dead skin cells
The main reason skin gets dull and clogged in winter? A buildup of dead skin cells. 

‘Cell turnover rate tends to slow down during colder months and when the turnover rate slows, the top layer of the skin sticks around longer, dulling our complexion,’ explains Mamo. 

To get back that smooth, glowy base, remove those dead skin cells regularly.

‘Use facial and body products that decongest on a weekly basis,’ says Mamo, adding that you should combine this regimen with a nourishing body oil to lock in hydration.

Add in antioxidants
Along with a healthy diet to nourish the skin from the inside-out, Bonham says it’s equally important to feed the skin topically with antioxidants to fight free radical damage, improve skin texture and hydrate dull skin.

And though you may not be seeing as much of the sun in winter, UVA rays — the ones that penetrate through windows and clouds, and into the deepest layer of skin — are still kicking, all day, every day and could be contributing towards hyper-pigmentation.

‘When applied topically, vitamin C lightens existing hyper-pigmentation and dullness as well as prevents further spots, all while giving skin a lit-from-within look even in the dead of winter,’ says Mamo.

Pair with a lightweight daily sunscreen on your face and hands or use a BB cream packed with protection.

Beauty Editor’s choice: 1. Glow Lab Brightening Exfoliator, $15.99,, 2. Glow Lab Rosehip Oil +Plus, $22,, 3. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, $105,, 4. Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Pore-Tight Toner, $54,, 5. ESK Enlighten Cream, $95,, 6. Invisible Zinc Sheer Defence Tinted Moisturiser SPF50, $31.99,

Symptom: Lips feel dry and cracked

As your lips don’t contain any lipid (oil) glands, they’re prone to looking a little worse for wear during winter.

The cure:

In the same way your face needs nourishing, restorative products in winter, so too do your lips.  

‘Your lips may require some light exfoliation to remove the dry skin cells, however it is important to not over exfoliate them,’ says Bonham.

To heal, and protect sore, weather-whipped lips, seek out ingredients such as vitamin E, lanolin and shea butter to not only improve your lips’ water-retaining prowess but also visibly plump them.

Beauty Editor’s choice: 1. Peggy Sue Lip Exfoliant, $18,, 2. Lanolips 101 Ointment  Multipurpose Superbalm, $19,, 3. Biologi Nourish Lip Serum, $21.82,

Symptom: Hands and feet feel parched and rough

At this time of year, hands and feet may feel scalier than dragon skin – red, rough, and cracked, not to mention itchy and uncomfortable. That’s because decreased air draws moisture from the skin, and the hands and feet are often the first to suffer.

The cure:

‘A tip for dry hands and feet is to put a thick layer of hydration cream on them, put on socks and a pair of cotton gloves, and sleep with it on overnight. In the morning your hands and feet will be feeling fresh,’ says Bonham.

For cracking that occurs in cold weather or as a result of frequent hand washing (or copious amount of hand sanitiser), keep skin singing with regular application of nourishing organic oils and hand creams.

Beauty Editor’s choice: 1. Weleda Skin Food, $14.95,, 2. Grown Alchemist Intensive Hand Cream, $30,, 3. Jergen Oil-infused Softening Vanilla Moisturiser, $8.39,  

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About Kristina Ioannou 5 Articles
Kristina Ioannou is a Journalist, Beauty Editor and marketing expert from Melbourne. When she's not wielding words, globetrotting to exotic destinations and helping ethical businesses kick butt on the 'gram, you’ll find her indulging her Reformer Pilates obsession and being a mama to a cute Toy Cavoodle named Rufus.