As temperatures dip heading into winter, you may be worried about how the dry, cold air will impact your skin—and, more specifically, how to keep it moisturized. In fact, medical and aesthetic dermatologist Kiran Mian, D.O., says the top concern she sees amongst patients in the winter is xerosis, or dry skin. “Because of the dry air, moisture escapes our skin, leaving it parched,” she says. (The heating system in your home likely exacerbates this, by the way.)
Cold weather might also trigger flare-ups of more serious skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, says board-certified dermatologist Geeta Yadav, M.D.
All of this is to say that your skin likely needs much more attention in the winter if you want to keep it smooth and hydrated. While cutting back on certain habits, like taking long, hot showers (which strip your skin’s natural oils) helps, much of your approach to winter skin-care should be about adding elements, Yadav says.
Here are the specific ingredients and rituals experts recommend incorporating into your winter skin-care routine in order to lock in moisture.
1. Get a humidifier
The best gift you can give your skin this upcoming holiday season is a humidifier, whether it’s a small one that sits on your desk or a larger one you can place in your bedroom. “A humidifier helps add essential moisture back into the air that can often be stripped by forced heating,” Yadav says.
A fun bonus: The extra moisture can help keep your hair stay shiny, too.
2. Make friends with ceramides
Is your skin starting to feel tight? “To reinforce your skin’s moisture barrier and prevent transepidermal water loss [the evaporation of moisture through the outer layer of the skin], use products with ceramides,” Yadav recommends. A type of fatty acid that exists naturally in your skin to keep it hydrated, many skin-care products are now fortified with ceramides to reinforce that moisture barrier, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
In addition to lathering on a full-body moisturizer with ceramides right after you jump out of the shower, let the skin on your face reap their benefits, too. Try this Mad Hippie Eye Cream, complete with peptides, ceramides, and white tea to keep undereye skin hydrated and calm.
3. Use products that promote skin cell turnover
With all the flaking your skin might be doing this time of year, you’re going to be tempted to exfoliate all of those dead skin cells away. Your instinct is right—for the most part. Instead of just sloughing them off with something like dry brushing or a coffee body scrub, you can use a chemical exfoliant like glycolic acid to help dissolve dead skin cells.
“Some moisturizers contain uric acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid, which can help turn over flaky skin (especially on the extremities) and help the skin absorb moisture,” Yadav says. (Try Reviva Lab’s Professional Strength 10% Glycolic Acid Creme.)
Just be careful not to use these too frequently during your winter skin-care routine (not more than once or twice a week), as they can be harsher on your skin in the cold months, Mian notes.
4. Layer up your Winter skin-care products
Just like you add extra layers of clothing to your outfits this time of year, you’re going to want to moisturize in layers, too. Before applying your moisturizer (don’t forget about those ceramides), massage some vitamin B or hyaluronic acid serum into your face and neck, advises Mian.
Hyaluronic acid is a well-known skin-care superstar that’s found naturally in your skin and is an ingredient in many products because it’s known to both boost moisture and help smooth wrinkles. Try The Vitamin Shoppe brand Hyaluronic Acid Booster Serum to replenish your skin’s moisture under makeup or day cream.
B vitamins, meanwhile, help with cell renewal, the process through which the skin rids itself of dead skin cells and keeps pores from getting clogged.
As a final step after your moisturizer, you can incorporate facial oils (like Derma E Essentials Rejuvenating Face Oil), which “can also be helpful in adding an extra layer of protection to the skin,” Mian notes.
5. Reduce retinoid Use
If you use retinoid products (which help speed up skin cell turnover to ward off breakouts and scarring and keep skin firm), you may find that your skin gets extra flaky during the colder months. The reason: These products can be drying.
In addition to using a thick, heavy-duty moisturizer during the winter, Mian recommends reducing your use of retinoids to only a couple of times a week. (It’s also always best to check in with your dermatologist before starting a retinoid routine, anyway, FYI.)
6. In dire dryness, turn to petroleum
Your hands can become brutally chapped in the cold winter weather, particularly if you have eczema. When nothing else helps, add some petroleum to your moisturizer. “Some may even need petroleum ointment as an added layer on top of their moisturizer,” says Mian. Go for a petroleum ointment as opposed to petroleum jelly to avoid greasy sheets and clothes.
7. Don’t forget SPF
Even though you’re not laying out on the beach, you still need to protect your skin from the sun during winter. “If you like winter sports, minimize skin exposure as much as possible to prevent chapped and cracked skin (or worse, windburn or frostbite), and be sure to always wear SPF,” Yadav says. “The glare from snow can compound sun exposure and cause sunburns, which you can get year-round.”
This MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield SPF 28 Cream provides broad-spectrum protection for those snowy sports and also contains aloe and vitamin E to soothe your skin. And don’t forget to consistently reapply a lip balm, too!