How to combat dry winter skin: 7 Beauty Panel tips to help keep your complexion in check

There’s no denying it anymore: winter’s officially here. With the cold, harsh winds and dropping temperatures, one of our main concerns this season is keeping our skin from drying out. We can’t think of a worse feeling than flaky skin that just doesn’t seem to absorb moisture. We asked our skin care-obsessed Beauty Panel from coast to coast how they combat dry winter skin, and we hope their tips will make the season a bit easier for you. After all, Canadian winters tend to last a lot longer than the four months they’re supposed to, so a solid go-to skin care routine is key.

Challenge 81: How do you keep your skin soft and hydrated in the winter? See the answers now! »

Have a beauty question you want to see the panel answer? Send it our way at [email protected]. Read on for the answers to this week’s challenge and for more goodness, get to know all contributors on our Beauty Panel hub page.


Jenn Fong
Toronto | A Beautiful Zen

My first time posting for Beauty Panel, and you’re met with my #nomakeup mugshot, but as the weather gets cooler, keeping that skin soft is my number one priority. So here I am and here is my skin!

I’ve got a bevy of skincare items dedicated for the winter months. Mostly I layer with thicker creamers, hydrating serums and hydrating masks. I’ve been using Dermalogica’s Skin Hydration Booster serum which is a great add on to any product and topping it with Lancome’s Bienfait Multi-Vital Cream SPF 30 in the morning. Usually at night, I use the equally thick, but not heavy, Clarin’s Hydraquench Cream for Normal to Dry Skin.

If my skin is really feeling extra parched, especially after clay masks or a particularly windy day, I’ve applied Sibu’s Seabuckthorn Oil sparingly or my Sulwahsoo Vitalizing Overnight Mask. The oil and the mask always leaves my skin plump and soft the next day!

Products used: Dermalogia’s Skin Hydration Booster, Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Cream (SPF 30), Clarin’s Hydraquench Cream (Normal to Dry skin), Sibu Seabuckthorne Oil, Sulwahsoo Vitalizing Overnight Mask

Megan Joy
Toronto | Megan Joy

The winter season conjures up memories of family time by the fire place, eating popcorn and snuggling up with a cozy blanket. While I may enjoy staying warm inside during the chilly Canadian winter, the heat inevitably dries out my sensitive skin quite a bit. Luckily there are a few holy grail skin products that keep my dry skin in shape during the cooler weather.

So how do I keep my skin from getting super dry?

I start off my day with a cleanser that exfoliates but also leaves my skin feeling soothed and hydrated (Lush’s Angels on Bare Skin). The finely milled almonds gently buff dry skin away while the lavender and rose soothe any redness. I follow up with the Lush Celestial Moisturizer which may be too heavy during the summer but I find it’s amazing during the colder months. The blend of cocoa butter, vanilla and almond milk smells like sugar cookies and will leave your skin feeling dewy and soft!

Finally I use a serum at night to hydrate and repair my skin throughout the night so that when I wake up my skin feels soft and smooth. My favourite is The Body Shop Vitamin E Serum in Oil. This serum is specifically created for overnight and works to soothe and moisturize skin while you sleep!

Though my go-to makeup is bold winged liner and pink lipstick, today I’m wearing a “no makeup” makeup look. This is something I wear almost every weekend! A little concealer and blush, some mascara and a hint of lip balm. If you have naturally healthy and smooth skin this could be your daily makeup routine!

Products used: Lush Angels on Bare Skin cleanser, Lush Celestial Moisturizer, The Body Shop Vitamin E Serum in Oil

Sarah Muncaster
Toronto | Beauty Funk

I refer to my skin type as “combination on crack.” When it’s dry, I can hardly smile without some degree of discomfort. When it’s oily, small animals can use my nose as a water slide. So the weather that comes as we move from October to November makes my problematic skin even more difficult. Luckily, I have a pretty solid skin care regimen that stays constant throughout the year, just varies in intensity/frequency.

As I transition to winter, I find myself exfoliating more and switching up my moisturizer to something a little more intense. The basics of my routine include: a gentle, unscented face wash to get my makeup off (currently using an unscented organic bar of soap), homemade Apple Cider Vinegar toner (1/2 water, 1/2 ACV), and the CeraVe facial moisturizing lotion. For the sensitive eye area, I use Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado (amazing stuff!), and at night time I use the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate (I would lay down my life for this stuff).

I use the Clarisonic knock-off by Olay (about $30 at the drugstore) to ensure I get my skin super clean and exfoliate at the same time. I will use this at least once a day, if not twice. I think the key to caring for winter skin is to not overdo it. Using salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide products can really dry out your skin, and that will not help your cause. Oh, and if you’re like me and try to ride your bike until you are literally covered in ice and snow, then watch for wind burn. It’s not pretty.

Did I forget to mention lip chap?! I don’t leave home without a tube of Burts Bees (the minty flavour). I suggest you find a favourite and stock up! Ps. If anyone has any tips for embracing the pasty white skin that comes along with winter, let me know!

Products used: Garnier BB cream and Burts Beers lip chap

Brittany Messner
Calgary | Life, Set Sail

As a girl who already has skin that leans more towards the dry side of things, it’s my most important beauty practice to keep myself hydrated not only during the winter months but all year round! Though, when it comes to Winter, I find myself reaching for products that are much heavier on moisture than during the Summer. Oils such as rose and coconut are a beauty godsend for me!

So how do I keep my skin glowing during the Winter?

As far as cleansing goes, I like to remove my makeup with coconut oil first, really making sure to work everything in before I wipe off all that gunk with a hot cloth. Afterwards I wash my face with a gentle (non-foaming) cleanser. To moisturize I use my favourite Wild Rose Beauty Balm…though this only really works if I’m staying at home or if it’s the evening because using oils to moisturize can leave quite a…well, oily look to the skin! If I plan on  putting makeup on I will just use a thick day cream.

Every other day, or every two days, I like to use a gentle exfoliator to polish my face and slough off any dry patches. The one I like to use in particular also happens to be extremely moisturizing as it is enriched with hempseed oil. While we’re on the topic of exfoliants, a lip scrub is a definite must for me in the Winter…after all, nothing looks as bad as putting lipstick on top of peeling lips! You can buy popular lip scrubs just about anywhere, but it is also very easy (and cheap) to make your own with coconut oil, brown sugar, and a touch of salt.

And let’s not forget about that bod! Make sure you are using a body scrub as you need it as this will prevent “snake legs” as I like to call them. And as an extra little tip, try putting a spoonful of coconut oil in your bath water to fully coat and moisturize your body before you’re even finished bathing!

If after reading this you’re thinking, “Wow this girl really likes natural stuff,” well, then you would be right. For me, having dry and sensitive skin is a double whammy which makes it important for me to practice skincare as basic and natural as possible. And before I forget to mention it, one of the best ways to keep skin hydrated is of course the simplest…drink water.

Products used: Saltspring Soapworks Rosehip and Mandarin Facial Cleanser, Seaweed and Hempseed Oil Face Scrub, Advanced Moisture Day Cream, Neal’s Yard Wild Rose Beauty Balm, Perk Naturals Pucker Up Lip Scrub, Lavender and Lemon Exfoliating Scrub

Cassy Jones
Ottawa | Exquisitely Chic

Every gal’s beauty pet peeve in the cold weather: dry skin. My skin is something I personally pride myself on. The number one compliment I get is how soft my skin is. What do I do to keep my skin soft?

My number one tip is hydration! I’ve been using this fantastic face mask from Julep called Night Shift. It’s a mask you apply before bed and rinse off in the morning. It goes on thin and absolutely nourishes my skin while I sleep. In the morning I cleanse as usual, tone then moisturize.

What else can you do to ensure baby-soft skin? Drink plenty of water, apply moisturizer and lotion within three minutes of getting out of the shower, exfoliate 2-3 times a week and take warm showers instead of steaming hot.

Products used: Julep Night Shift Sleeping Mask

Jayne Lim
Vancouver | Cosmetic Proof

Heading into the winter season, my skin has been playing havoc on me with its random dry patches, blackheads and overall dull appearance. My skin type is dry with a tendency to be very dehydrated and for the most part, bathing it in moisture makes it happy. My cocktailing experiments have resulted in a skincare routine (in addition to cleansing, toning and serums) that involves intense exfoliation, masks and of course a blast of moisture.

For daily exfoliation, Amie Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash is both a cleanser and gentle exfoliant using blueberry seeds and is a wonderful option for those of you who want to keep skincare simple and straightforward. My skin feels renewed and fresh thanks to green apple and lemon whenever I use this, but I would advise using this every other day if you have sensitive skin.

For a more intense scrub, I love using Vasanti’s Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuventor which can be used up to 3-5x/week. It is a very dense exfoliator that uses papaya enzymes to reveal brighter and fresher looking skin. When I started using this a year ago, I noticed the brightening in my skin right away.

For the ultimate in exfoliation, I am a huge advocate of Philosophy’s Microexfoliating Treatment which is a two step process. Step one is the actual scrub and composed of very dense vitamin C peptide crystals and step two is an activating gel composed of lactic and salicylic acid that when combined gets warm and slightly foamy. I think of this as the money-maker step because on top of brightening and exfoliating, the lactic and salicylic acid clear out pores and give your skin a mild chemical peel. This treatment should only be done once a week, but is wonderful for all skin types except acne-prone skin.

Sleeping masks are a GREAT way to infuse moisture into the skin with two of my favourites being: the Korres Rose and Vitamin C Sleeping Facial and the Boscia Tsubaki Deep Hydrating Sleeping Mask. Both masks are non-sticky (no sticky pillow face!) and can be used in place of your regular night time moisturizer. What I will guarantee is baby soft skin in the morning! Sheet masks are another fun and relatively quick way to give skin a blast of moisture. My favourites are the MaskerAide sheet masks which I use in place of my regular moisturizer.

And finally, the winter moisturizers I currently swear by are two from Canadian company skoah and a luxuriously rich creamy one from Fresh. The Fresh Creme Ancienne Soft Cream is pretty pricey, but absolutely amazing for dry, parched skin! It has a great texture and can be used both morning and night because it also has anti-aging benefits in the form of Vitamin E. The Hydradew and Kalm Down Masks can be treated as masks, but I use them as a serum/hydrating primer and moisturizer respectively. They both absorb right away into the skin and instantly soothe and calm redness and irritation with a 12 plant botanical blend.

After MUCH experimentation over the years, this is the skincare cocktail that I have concocted and while it does take a little bit of trial and error, I KNOW that one of these skincare saviours will make it into your routines!

Products mentioned: Amie Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash, Vasanti’s Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuventor, Philosophy Microexfoliating Treatment, Korres Rose and Vitamin C Sleeping Facial, Boscia Tsubaki Deep Hydrating Sleeping Mask, MaskerAide Hydrating Facial Sheet Masks, Fresh Creme Ancienne Soft Cream, skoah Hydradew Mask, skoah Kalm Down Mask

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