How To: The Winter Skincare Routine

Written by: Rebecca Eaton

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Time to read 11 min

It’s no secret that unique skin challenges come to the forefront as the winter chill sets in. From heightened skin dryness and troubles retaining moisture to itchy, dry, and easily irritated skin that doesn’t want to play nice in the bitterly cold breeze, it’s safe to say that winter can wreak serious havoc on your skin health if left unaddressed. 


Did you know your skin is constantly in flux? From summer through to winter, your skin changes according to what’s happening internally in your body and externally in your environment. As such, adapting your skincare ritual and lifestyle to suit the season’s demands is a non-negotiable for anyone wanting to maintain glowing skin year-round.


Keen to safeguard your skin against the winter blues? Keep reading to discover what each skin type needs in winter and how you can adapt your routine. Your winter skincare routine awaits…

Close up image of a lady

How Does Winter Affect Your Skin Health?

Maintaining optimal skin health all year round goes well beyond what we use topically on our skin (i.e., skincare). When we consider the health of our skin, we need to adopt a holistic approach that looks at our health and environment in all of its parts — from water intake and diet to air quality, humidity, skincare, and more. Understanding these elements empowers you to take control of your skin’s health.


If you thought you could get away with counting on your old faithful skincare routine all year round, think again. Your skin constantly fluctuates, which means the choices you make regularly — including diet, alcohol, smoking, stress, and more — influence what’s happening beneath your skin’s surface. But that’s not all. Environmental factors, like temperature, wind, and humidity, also dictate your skin health.


When you feel that harsh winter air roll in and the dry, flaking skin starts, it’s no coincidence. Let’s take a closer look at how the temperature drop influences your skin health:

  • Increased dryness — During winter, the temperature drop also means a lack of humidity in the air. What exactly does this mean for your skin? Decreased moisture in the air equals reduced moisture in your skin and moisture retention. This results in dry skin that is more susceptible to flaking and peeling. You may notice this particularly noticeable around the nose and mouth.
  • Increased skin chapping — Colder weather is often accompanied by harsher winds, which can cause your face, lips, and hands to chap more easily.
  • Increased skin irritation — Many people use indoor heating more frequently during winter. As such, the stark difference in temperature between outdoors and indoors can cause capillaries in your skin to break, causing irritated skin characterised by redness. Additionally, as your skin loses moisture and becomes more dry, you’re more likely to experience cracked, itchy skin.
  • Increased skin sensitivity — Your skin barrier is crucial in protecting you against harmful toxins and environmental pollutants from entering your body. However, without adequate moisture, your skin barrier cannot function optimally, causing damage that shows in the way of dry, irritated skin. Cold weather can make your skin more sensitive and more prone to allergens and irritants.

In summary, colder temperatures lead to a decrease in moisture in the air, which in turn affects your skin. With less moisture, your skin is more likely to become dry, leading to issues such as flaking, peeling, irritation, redness, and sensitivity. Being aware of these effects can help you prepare and protect your skin during the winter months.

[Read More: Battling Dry Skin? Here’s How to Quench the Thirst]

A photo of a face moisturiser cream

5 Tips for Protecting Your Skin in Winter 

While we have little control over the seasons, we can influence how our skin behaves and reacts as the temperatures inevitably shift. 


What can you implement in the colder months to keep your skin smiling as though it is summer? Here are our Doctor-approved tips to keep that year-round glow: 

1. Nourish your skin immediately post-shower

The science is straightforward: Whenever you wash your face (or your body, for that matter), you’re also cleansing your body of natural oils. While this is an essential part of adequately washing your skin, the downside is that it can result in additional moisture loss from your skin, as these oils naturally help with water retention. As our skin is even more susceptible to moisture loss in winter due to the low humidity, we must replace lost moisture with, well, you guessed it, moisturiser, post-shower or cleanse.

Here’s what we’d recommend to support optimal winter skin hydration:

  • Morning: While our skin may need more TLC in winter, we understand it can be hard to balance deep nourishment with lightweight, makeup-friendly formulas. For those seeking a light, quick-drying, shine-free moisturiser to wear under makeup during the day or even just a cream that doesn’t feel thick and heavy, Dr Tanya’s Holy Basil Day + Night Cream strikes the perfect balance. This best-selling formula contains Holy Basil, Squalane, Jojoba Oil, and more to deliver an anti-inflammatory, hydrating moisturiser.
  • Evening: Overnight is when you’ll want something heavier to nourish your skin deeply and soak it in moisture. We recommend using Dr Tanya’s Luxe Recovery Gel as an overnight mask to help hydrate and soothe your skin, protect and repair your skin barrier, and safeguard you against free radicals.
  • Extra support: Dr Tanya’s lightweight Hyaluronic Acid Serum uses Hymagic™ 4D to deliver a four-dimensional hyaluronic network that leaves your skin deeply nourished and protected from moisture loss. Did you know your body naturally produces hyaluronic acid to help maintain the soft, supple, hydrated glow? This incredible gel-like substance is found in your skin, eyes, joints, and connective tissues and plays a vital role in retaining moisture in the skin, allowing it to hold over 1,000 times its weight in water. Sadly, as we age, our body’s natural production of hyaluronic acid gradually diminishes, resulting in a loss of volume and the emergence of fine lines and wrinkles. We recommend adding this serum to your winter skincare arsenal to maintain hydration and moisture retention. 
A close up image of a lady with smeared moisturiser on her cheek

2. Don’t skip SPF50+, even in winter

Did you think that because you couldn’t feel the unforgiving heat radiating from the sun in winter, it wasn’t causing damage to your skin? Think again. If the damaging effects of UV aren’t enough to make you reach for your bottle of sunscreen, perhaps this will be the cherry on top: UV damage, even in winter, causes stress to your moisture barrier, resulting in dry skin.


Our recommendation:

  1. Treat SPF application like any other part of your skincare ritual.
  2. Lay your sunscreen with other skincare products and make your AM routine a ritual, not a chore.
  3. Learn to love the feeling of nourishing and protecting your skin. 

3. Be mindful of indoor temperatures

We know the sound of a steaming hot shower, toastie electric blanket, or cosy indoor heater might sound like the perfect way to spend a winter’s day inside, but unfortunately, your skin might think otherwise.

While indoor heating can draw moisture from the skin due to the low humidity, a hot shower can strip away your skin’s natural oils, causing moisture loss, dryness, and potentially skin damage.

Our recommendation:

  1. Keep indoor heating to a minimum.
  2. When it’s cold outside, wear extra layers.
  3. Take a lukewarm shower instead of boiling hot, and pat your skin dry (as opposed to intensely rubbing) with a towel to avoid moisture loss. 
Up-close image of someone rubbing Dr Tanya Holy Basil Face Serum  into their hands

4. Don’t forget to hydrate

If your water intake becomes an afterthought in winter, you’re not alone. Without the harsh sun and water loss through sweating to remind us to replenish our hydration levels, it can be easy to forget that adequate H2O is just as crucial in the cold as it is in the heat.

From a skin health perspective, inadequate hydration can dry out your skin, making it appear flaky, rough-textured, and dull. A strong immune system is also vital for keeping all your organs, including your skin, functioning optimally. 


Our recommendation: If you’re struggling to prioritise water intake as the weather gets cooler, try hitting your hydration goals by incorporating more warm water, nourishing broths, or herbal teas to keep your insides warm.  

5. Exfoliate sparingly

Don’t get us wrong—exfoliation is an incredible skin-smoothing and brightening practice when done right. However, it requires the right tools, products, and timing to be most effective and avoid damaging your skin.


[Read Now: Your Go-to Guide to Facial Exfoliation: When, How, and What To Do]


Exfoliation refers to the process of removing dead skin cells from your skin’s outer layer, which subsequently speeds up skin cell turnover. Each day, your skin cells go through a renewal process whereby the outer layers of your skin die and are replaced by new cells. Without adequate exfoliation, you’re more likely to experience a build-up of dead skin cells, resulting in clogged pores, textured skin, or a dull-looking appearance.


While exfoliation boasts plentiful benefits, it isn’t without risk. When done incorrectly, it can have serious long-term implications for the health of your skin.


[Read More: The Dos and Don'ts of Facial Exfoliation]

Suppose your skin looks and feels particularly dry or flaky, which is common in the cooler months. In that case, we recommend reducing your exfoliation routine and opting for a gentle chemical exfoliant or tool, rather than a harsh, gritty scrub. Generally speaking, more vigorous scrubs often have larger particles that can interfere with your skin’s moisture barrier, causing damage. Secondly, if your skin looks irritated or raw due to the cold or icy winds, you may feel extra tempted to scrub off a layer to reveal the soft, fresh skin underneath. However, this will do more harm than good. Instead, avoid exfoliating your skin until it has fully healed.


Our recommendation: If you’re after a gentle yet effective exfoliating tool to buff away dead skin and dirt, Dr Tanya’s patented facial exfoliator — NuSonic 2.0 — acts as your very own at-home dermatologist. This tool improves skin tone and texture while removing dead skin and is gentler than other forms of exfoliation on the market.


Two women holding a tub of Dr Tanya Luxe Recovery Gel

How To Adapt Your Winter Skincare Routine According to Your Skin Type

All skin is unique, and so are the challenges each skin type faces in winter. From battling dryness to minimising sensitivity, let’s look at how each skin type should adapt its skincare routine in winter to accommodate these challenges.


[Read More: How to Determine Your Skin Type: The Ultimate Guide]


Note: As always, we recommend seeking professional advice to ensure you choose products specific to your unique skin and concerns or booking a Clinical Skin Consultation to discuss your skin concerns, goals, and current routine in a 15-minute 1:1 phone consultation with Dr Tanya. Use the following recommendations as a guide, but always patch-test products first and seek professional advice before committing to a new skincare routine.


[Read More: How to Build a Skincare Ritual: The AM to PM Guide to Glowing Skin]

Winter Skincare Routine for Dry Skin

Primary considerations: Skin is more prone to dryness, irritation, and flakiness in winter.

Routine:

Suggested Skincare:

Cleanser:

  • In winter, opt for a cream or oil-based cleanser to help enhance and retain moisture when your skin is more susceptible to loss.
  • We recommend Dr Tanya’s Miracle Cream Cleanser for a gentle, nourishing skin solution.

Exfoliation:

  • Cut back on exfoliating during winter, as it can increase dryness and cause unnecessary damage to your skin if done incorrectly or using harsh products.
  • We recommend exfoliating once a week in winter using a gentle solution like Dr Tanya’s NuSonic 2.0 exfoliating device.

Serum:

  • Adding hydration and nourishment deep beneath the skin’s surface is the key to serum usage in winter.
  • We recommend Dr Tanya’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum in winter (and all year round) as it’s a well-known skin ingredient that holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water, meaning it’s ideal for skin hydration. We also recommend layering with Dr Tanya’s Holy Basil Face Serum, which calls on key ingredients Holy Basil, Cacay Oil, and Jojoba Oil to boost skin hydration, offer anti-inflammatory support, and seal in moisture. Just think of it as a big glass of water for your skin!

Moisturiser:

  • Switch to a thicker, more hydrating moisturiser that will add nourishment to your skin and help lock it in to avoid drying out. We recommend looking for products that contain ingredients such as Ceramides, Squalane, Shea Butter, Glycerin, and Vitamin C.
  • We recommend Radiant Day Cream during the day and Luxe Recovery Gel as an overnight mask to help prevent dryness.

[Read More: Dr Tanya’s 7 Tips for Soothing Dry or Dehydrated Skin]

Winter Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

Primary considerations: Minimising oiliness without unnecessarily drying out the skin.

Routine:

Suggested Skincare:

Cleanser:

  • Use a gentle foaming cleanser to remove dirt, excess oil, and make-up residue.
  • However, be mindful to check that it isn’t unnecessarily over-drying or stripping your skin.

Exfoliation:

  • To avoid clogged pores, exfoliate your skin 1-2 times a week using a gentle exfoliating device like Dr Tanya’s NuSonic 2.0.

Serum:

  • Use face serums to ensure your skin is hydrated and healthy.
  • Opt for serums that contain Niacinamide or Salicylic Acid to help with oil control and breakout prevention.

Moisturiser:

  • Choose a lightweight moisturiser (preferably oil-free) to hydrate your skin without adding additional oil that is likely to clog your pores.

Winter Skincare Routine for Sensitive Skin

Primary considerations: Increased skin sensitivity and irritation.

Routine:

Suggested Skincare:

Cleanser:

  • Opt for a gentle cleanser free of fragrance and other irritating chemicals.

Exfoliation:

  • This skin type should exfoliate infrequently in winter, as skin irritation is likely to be at an all-time high. We recommend using an extremely gentle exfoliator once every couple of weeks.

Serum:

Moisturiser:

  • Similarly to your other skincare products, it’s best to choose a moisturiser that contains minimal chemicals and extra gentle and soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera, Chamomile, Squalane, Jojoba Oil, and more.
  • Dr Tanya’s Luxe Recovery Gel is the perfect overnight mask for sensitive skin types. It contains Panthenol, Aloe Vera, and Squalane to hydrate the skin while supporting inflammation and irritation.
  • For something a little lighter, Dr Tanya’s Holy Basil Day & Night Cream contains Holy Basil, Squalane, and Jojoba Oil, which offer antioxidant and protective support while nourishing the skin.

[Read More: Sensitive Skin Skincare: Your Complete Guide]

Winter Skincare Routine for Combination Skin

Primary considerations: Managing dryness in some regions of the face while still minimising oiliness.

Routine:

Suggested Skincare:

Cleanser:

  • Opt for a balancing cleanser that is gentle on the skin and suitable for both oily and dry skin. We recommend seeking professional advice to ensure you’re choosing an option that suits both skin types.

Exfoliation:

  • We recommend exfoliating at most once a week in winter. Once a week should effectively remove built-up dead skin to prevent excess oil from clogging your pores and causing an acne breakout, but any more may cause irritation to dry skin areas.
  • We recommend Dr Tanya’s NuSonic 2.0 exfoliating device for a gentle yet effective exfoliating solution.

Serum:

Moisturiser:

  • Use multiple moisturisers to suit the different skin types. In oily areas, use a lightweight, oil-free moisturiser, and in dry areas, use a thicker, more nourishing option (like our Radiant Day Cream or Luxe Recovery Gel).