How to improve your skincare routine for winter

Winter skincare
Laura Capon

What to use with what and why: Here’s how to make your autumn/winter work harder

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

It’s not just the colder conditions you have to defend against either. Central heating and hot showers dry and irritate skin even further, along with the constant change between temperatures as you go about your day. Even if you have oily/combination skin you need to make a few adjustments, but don’t worry, there’s no pore-clogging night creams here.

So, while you’re rummaging about the loft looking for those vacuum bags, follow these steps below and refresh your skincare shelves while you’re at it:


Your sink time is your first step in injecting that 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 and because it’s always important to double cleanse (first one removes makeup and SPF, second one cleanses the actual skin) you can either follow up with the same cleanser again or, look for a formula designed to soothe and calm.

You might also want to consider investing in a Foreo. This is a facial cleansing device with silicone bristles that helps you cleanse more effectively whilst also exfoliating. I was sceptical about these but since introducing one into my routine a few weeks ago, I’ve noticed how much smoother my face feels.

First cleanse recommendations:

Second cleanse recommedations: 


Removing the build-up of dead skin and flushing clogged pores is more important than ever in winter and will not only give you that elusive ‘no makeup, makeup’ glow, but also help the rest of your skincare perform better.
Avoid physical exfoliators (the kind with beads or particles that scrub) and opt for chemical ones. Salicylic acid is a must-have for blemish prone skin as it can break through oil, meaning it will get inside your pores and help flush out those blackheads.

Normal to dry types meanwhile looking for a combination of AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) an BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) like glycolic and lactic which will help slough away dead skin cells.


I know what you’re thinking, have we gone back to the ‘80s? No, unfortunately we haven’t. For me, I think of the toner stage as more of an essence stage inspired by Korean skincare routines.

Essences are essentially liquid moisturisers, which when patted on to the skin with fingertips are the first hydration step post cleansing. You can also use a hydrating face mist here as well. 

Remember, for all skin types it’s always better to layer light layers of hydration rather than just one heavy night cream.

Prevent or treat

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

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 AM preventative stage look for a vitamin C or any antioxidant serum that will help protect your face throughout the day from environmental aggressors. 

PM wise, you can alternate your serums, so I apply a retinol every other night, but as we’re focusing on winter skin and replenishing lost moisture, a hydration serum is a must.



Moisturise or SPF

Your final step is of course a moisturiser and this is where you want to look for key words like ‘ceramides’, ‘skin barrier’, ‘lipid replenishing’. In the morning however, it’s still important that you stick to your daily SPF application. 

Despite their being a distinct lack of sunshine, UVA rays still penetrate clouds. You can still use a regular moisturiser if your skin is particularly dry but remember to apply that first as SPF is always the final step in your routine.

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