How to improve your winter skincare routine

Winter skincare
Editorial Team

What to use with what, and why – here’s how to make those fancy formulas work harder

We think nothing of switching our wardrobes for the colder months, but changing your skincare routine for winter is just as important as swapping flip-flops for boots. That’s because colder temperatures and harsher winds dry out skin and can make conditions such as psoriasis and eczema flare up.

Central heating and hot showers can dry and irritate skin even further, and then there’s the constant change between temperatures as you go about your day.

Help is at hand in the form of moisture-boosting serums, chemical exfoliators and gentle cleansers. This is how to win at winter skin…


Your sink time is your first step in injecting much-needed hydration back into your skin. The worst thing you can do here is strip that all-important barrier with harsh cleansers that exacerbate dry skin and send sebaceous glands into overdrive.

To remove your makeup, look for a hydrating oil or balm that will gently melt everything away. It’s always important to double cleanse (the first cleanse removes makeup and SPF, the second cleanses the actual skin), so you can either use the same cleanser again or look for a different formula designed to soothe and calm.

You might also consider using a Foreo. This is a facial cleansing device with silicone bristles that helps you cleanse more effectively while also exfoliating. Give it a few weeks and see how much smoother your face feels.


Removing the build-up of dead skin and flushing clogged pores is more important than ever in winter. Not only will it give you that elusive glow, but it’ll also help the rest of your skincare perform better.

Avoid physical exfoliators (the kind containing beads or grains) and opt for chemical ones. Salicylic acid is a must-have for blemish-prone skin as it can break through oil, get inside your pores and blitz blackheads.

Normal to dry types should look for a combination of AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) an BHAs (beta hydroxy acids). Glycolic and lactic acid will slough away those dead skin cells.


Have we gone back to the Eighties? No, we have not. Think of today’s toners as more of an essence stage inspired by Korean skincare routines.

Essences are essentially liquid moisturisers that are patted on to skin as the first hydration step post-cleanse. You can also use a hydrating face mist here. For all skin types, it’s better to apply light layers of hydration rather than just one heavy cream.

Treat (and prevent)

This stage of your skincare is where you would normally invest the most money. It’s your serum or actives stage where you are either applying products to protect your face throughout the day (in the morning), or to treat existing skincare concerns (at night).

This step is the most personal and involves you identifying what your concerns are in order to adequately treat them, whether that’s a retinol for ageing or a hyaluronic acid for hydration.

For your morning preventative stage, look for a vitamin C or any antioxidant serum that will help protect your face from environmental aggressors. 

In the evening, you can alternate your serums – perhaps only apply a retinol every other night and, as it’s winter, add a nightly a hydration serum to replenish lost moisture.

Moisturise (and remember the SPF)

Your final step is, of course, moisturiser and this is where you want to look for words like ‘ceramides’, ‘skin barrier’, ‘lipid replenishing’. However, it’s important that you also stick to your daily SPF application. 

Despite there being a distinct lack of sunshine at this time of year, UVA rays still penetrate clouds. You can put on your regular moisturiser if your skin is particularly dry, but remember to then apply SPF, so it’s always the final step in your morning skincare routine.

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