The Doctor-approved Winter Skincare Guide

Written by: Rebecca Eaton



Time to read 9 min

As the colder weather rolls in, most of us know to switch out our linen wardrobe for knits and smoothies for soups. Yet, how many of us can confidently say we know exactly how to transition our skincare routines with the seasons and why it matters?

Believe it or not, your skin’s texture, condition, and requirements change with the weather. What once made your face feel and look radiant in summer may not be the same winning formula to nourish your face in winter. 

Want to learn how to care for your skin during the year’s colder months? Keep reading for our Dr Tanya-approved winter skincare guide. 

The quick guide:

Lady applying balm to her wrist

First things first, how and why does your skin change with the seasons? 

When caring for your skin, your environment and the weather conditions are indisputable in deciding what your skin will need to thrive. What exactly does this mean? For example, those who live in tropical regions, such as Far North Queensland or India, will have different skin needs than those in colder or more drastically fluctuating locations, like Melbourne or Scandinavia. 

Just as our bodies need to adjust to the season changes, so does our skin. 

Each location generally offers unique seasons, bringing varying temperatures and humidity ranges. These things can ultimately impact how your skin acts and reacts and what it needs to thrive. Let’s break down the typical characteristics associated with the season changes:

  • Autumn — As we transition from summer to autumn, the temperature drops and the air becomes drier. 
  • Winter — Much like the transition to autumn, these changes intensify come winter. Plus, you may now even feel an evident chill in the air. Not to mention, you’re likely making the most of the indoor heating and those sneakily long hot showers. 
  • Spring — The temperature starts to heat up again, with a slight increase in humidity and less intense winds. 
  • Summer — The humidity is well and truly back, and we’re feeling the full force of the heat. 

What is the take-home message here? During the many season changes and weather fluctuations, your skin primarily focuses on maintaining hydration. 

While battling the shifting temperatures and dry air during the colder months, your skin has to work even harder to keep you looking and feeling radiant… but it can’t do it alone, especially if you’re following the same old skincare routine all year round. This is why, for many people, skin dryness, tightness, flaking, and irritation are commonly experienced in winter. 

Why is it important to care for your skin differently in winter?

As we’ve discussed above, your skin’s requirements change with the seasons, particularly in winter. But what exactly does this do to your skin on a deeper level? Let us explain: 

  • It increases dry skin — When the weather grows colder, this is subsequently met with a drop in humidity too. When there’s low humidity in the air, it can draw moisture from the outer layers of your skin, resulting in drier skin.
  • It enhances inflammation — Due to disruptions to your skin barrier caused by dryness-induced cracks in the skin, it may enhance inflammation characterised by itchiness and skin flaking. 
  • It can cause breakouts — With drier skin comes the risk of a build-up of excess dead skin, which can clog your pores and cause you to break out. 
  • Skin condition flare-ups — Those who suffer from eczema and psoriasis may experience flare-ups as the seasons change. 
Girl cleansing her face with a foam cleanser

5 Tips to Master Your Winter Skincare Ritual 

1. Switch to an oil or cream-based cleanser

If you’ve grown used to relying on a foam cleanser in the warmer months of the year, guess what? It may not be doing your skin justice come winter (aka it might be time to drop this from your winter skincare kit). 

While many foam cleansers, particularly those containing salicylic acid, play an important role in adequately removing excess oil and dirt, they also contain a range of ingredients known to dry out your skin. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know by now that this is the exact opposite we want to achieve in winter, as our skin is already naturally drier from the temperature and humidity drop.

An oil or cream-based cleanser is a great winter skincare option for those wanting to keep their skin barrier intact and their skin hydrated and supple. 

Our recommendation: The Dr Tanya Miracle Cream Cleanser offers the creamy, nourishing goodness your skin needs to feel clean and hydrated in a gentle way. 

2. Get serious about your exfoliation ritual

Increased skin dryness calls for a more committed exfoliation routine. Wondering why, exactly? When our skin is dry, it can build up excess dead skin, which can consequently clog your pores, causing unwanted breakouts. An increase in dead skin build-up can also interfere with your skincare product’s absorption… which isn’t ideal when your skin requires even more hydration and nourishment during the colder months.

Yet, let’s not forget that you can have too much of a good thing. If you over-exfoliate or rely on harsh exfoliating tools or products, you’re more likely to disrupt your skin barrier, making you more susceptible to dry and irritated skin. Aim to exfoliate 1-2 times per week to avoid overdoing it, if in doubt. 

Our recommendation: The Dr Tanya NuSonic Facial Exfoliator is our favourite pocket-sized exfoliating tool, which helps to gently loosen dead skin build-up to reveal a brighter, smoother, and more glowing you. Gentler than many other exfoliators on the market, the NuSonic improves skin texture and tone by buffing away dead skin, daily dirt, grime, sunscreen, and more. 

3. Be mindful not to dry out your skin unnecessarily

Unfortunately, it isn’t just the outdoor elements and environment responsible for drying out our skin in the winter. We, too, play a role in putting our bodies in unnecessarily drying conditions!

During winter, we’ll often do whatever it takes to stay cosy and warm. For many of us, this means turning up the heat in the shower (and spending a little longer in there) and making the most of indoor heating. While important to keep warm, it’s essential that you’re aware of the impact these two things have on your skin’s hydration levels. 

Our recommendation: Rather than getting too comfortable with indoor heating, set a daily limit and add more layers when it’s time to switch off the thermostat. Likewise, limit yourself to one moderately warm shower per day rather than two boiling hot ones. Trust us, your skin will thank you for it! 

Close up photo of a girl with a face mask on

4. Add an overnight mask to your PM ritual

Face masks should be a welcome part of your self-care ritual all year round and a non-negotiable in winter. 

As mentioned, cold weather dries out your skin as there isn’t enough moisture in the air. As masks are a barrier and a sealant, they play an important role in helping your skin lock in moisture, reducing the evaporation of other skincare ingredients, and preventing bacteria and dirt from entering your pores.

Let’s take a closer look at how an overnight mask can support your skin health and appearance:

  • It locks in moisture — Unlike many other skincare products that are designed to absorb into your skin and penetrate deeper layers, a mask sits on the top layer of your skin to help lock in moisture and rebalance your skin’s hydration levels. 
  • It can slow the appearance of ageing — Believe it or not, skin dehydration is a large contributor to ageing. As you age naturally, the hydration in your skin will decline. As such, applying regular hydration-boosting overnight masks is a great way to keep your skin adequately nourished and hydrated for longer to avoid the early onset of ageing. This may also mean that older people see even greater results from adding an overnight mask to their routine. 
  • Your skin generally needs hydration most at nighttime — Just like your sleeping patterns, your skin also has a circadian rhythm. As the sun sets, your skin’s hydration levels naturally lower (more on this topic in #5). As such, an overnight mask allows you to maintain hydration levels and nourish your skin when it is particularly at risk of drying out. 

When looking for a quality overnight mask, the goal is to focus on hydration. This may sound obvious, but there are specific things to be mindful of. For example, a mask containing only humectants may be great during summer when enough moisture is in the air to extract. However, when humidity is low in winter, this alone won’t be enough to keep your skin hydrated. We recommend looking for an overnight mask that combines humectants, emollients (support skin barrier function), and occlusives (physically block water from escaping). The latter is great for low-humidity environments, i.e., winter. 

Our recommendation: Dr Tanya’s Luxe Recovery Gel is a science-backed and nutrient-rich hydration booster designed to reduce redness and inflammation post-skin treatment and revitalise and hydrate your skin. Luxe Recovery Gel contains a range of high-quality humectant and emollient ingredients and can be used as a moisturiser or applied as an overnight mask for optimal nourishment.  

5. Understand your skin’s circadian rhythm 

As mentioned above, much like other bodily processes and organs, your skin, too, has a circadian rhythm. However, understanding your skin’s cycle and what exactly is occurring beneath the top layer isn’t just important during winter… It’s important all year round. 

Understanding your skin’s circadian rhythm allows you to tailor your skincare ritual based on what your skin needs at different times of the day. To understand this concept better, let’s look at what naturally occurs to your skin throughout the day.


When the sun is out, your skin is generally in protection mode. Your skin is exposed to UV light, air pollution, and free radicals, which can subsequently cause unwanted DNA damage. During this time, your skin is experiencing the following physiological changes:

  • Stronger barrier function — It is believed that your skin retains and seals in moisture better during the day due to improved barrier function (i.e., to help protect your skin from DNA damage).
  • More sebum production — While you may feel your skin produces the most oil overnight, your skin’s sebum production is highest in the early afternoon. 
  • Boosted antioxidant production — Your skin naturally produces antioxidants, which is heightened during the daytime as it’s trying to safeguard itself from DNA damage. 


As you know, your daytime skincare ritual should focus on protecting your skin. As such, to complement this, your evening skincare ritual should be centred around repairing your skin. During this time, your skin is generally experiencing the following physiological changes:

  • Decreased barrier function — In the evening, your skin barrier can let down its walls a little more. As it no longer has to protect itself from the many harmful environmental elements experienced during the day, it becomes more permeable. This means your skin can easily absorb and utilise your skincare products. It is also when your skin is most likely to lose moisture, thus requiring a quality barrier-protecting skincare regimen. 
  • DNA repair — While you sleep, your skin works around the clock to repair any DNA damage caused throughout the day. Additionally, cell repair and regeneration also occur at a much higher rate at night. 

Our recommendation: Let’s quickly recap what you’ve just learned before we offer any suggestions or recommendations. During the day, your skin is in defence mode and will likely produce more oil and experience stronger barrier protection and thickness. On the contrary, in the evening, your skin enters repair mode, characterised by higher blood flow, higher skin barrier permeability (and thus water loss), higher skin cell regeneration, and more.

As mentioned, understanding these physiological changes to your skin has little to do with winter. It is more about ensuring you adapt your skincare ritual to suit your daily skin needs. Not only is your skin most susceptible to dryness during the colder months of the year, but it also experiences its highest water loss at night, meaning your winter PM ritual needs to be heavily in favour of nourishment and hydration. 

We recommend the Dr Tanya Balance + Hydrate Bundle for the optimal skin nourishing ritual. Combining our Miracle Cream Cleanser, NuSonic Facial Exfoliator, and Holy Basil Day & Night Cream, this incredible trio is designed to leave your skin feeling nourished, smooth, and restored all year round.