Today we're talking winter skin. As someone with very dry skin and a barrier that hates the cold and the central heating, this is always the time of year when I have to really nourish, protect and replenish my skin. So, we're going to get into products I recommend for just that!
I have three wonderfully-gentle cleansers here for you: which one's for your routine depends on when you like to cleanse and what textures you enjoy, so I'll give your a breakdown of each. I'm sure the regulars aren't remotely surprised to see the Ordinary's Squalane Cleanser* | £13.90 (supersize) | full review | in this post! I always pack this one when I'm away from home because it's a fantastic multi-tasker, especially for dry skin. If you like to cleanse in the morning: it's great for that, but if you want a product to gently remove sunscreen and everyday makeup: it's great for that too. Squalane mimics the natural oils your skin creates but is totally plant-based. This comes out like a creamy-balm, it melts down to something more oil-based and then totally emulsifies with water to leave the skin soft and not at all stripped.
If you like a true cream cleanser, you need the Skingredients PreProbiotic Cleanse | £26 | full review. This is a beautiful, rich cleanser that leaves my skin so nourished and happy that I sometimes wonder if I just cleansed or if I just moisturised! It's formulated with pre and probiotics to help support the integrity of your skin barrier, but also PHAs, which are hydrating as well as mildly exfoliating. I sometimes slap this on before my shower like a mask to help stop water loss through my skin. I use it mainly in the morning but also sometimes I'll reach for it as a one-step PM option on sunscreen-only days. If you just want a really basic-in-a-good-way water-based cleanser that will leave your skin feeling fresh without taking away much-needed moisture, try the Aveeno Calm & Restore Cleanser* | £7.99. This is a non-foaming, jelly cleanser with a really simple ingredient list that will suit most sensitive skin types. You have Aveeno's signature oat extract, which is soothing and calming for the skin glycerin as a humectant and Vitamin E, which is moisturising and an antioxidant (protecting the skin from environmental aggressors). A full review on the range is coming next month!
Moisturisers! Obviously a critical element of a winter lineup, so sorry for mentioning so many. Again, I'm giving you options... The first is the La Roche-Posay Dermallergo Soothing Cream* | £18.50. I was quite apprehensive when I found out that Toleriane Ultra had been reformulated, because I’ll never forget a few years ago when I had this horrendous allergic reaction on my face to detergent enzymes (which I now totally avoid) and all I could do was splash a bit of water on my face and use this (well, the old version). Now I’d probably try to get a mineral sunscreen on but this was pre-daily sunscreen for me and it was Glasgow in the depths of January! Luckily, I've not had this happen to me since I've had the new version, but honestly: this is amazing against winter skin. Like a hug for your face. I'd say it feels a little richer than the old version to me, but that's the only noticeable difference in terms of how it works. It can be used for both AM and PM when your skin really needs it. The formula contains shea butter for that nourishing goodness, squalane, dimethicone to prevent transepidermal water loss, fatty alcohols to replenish, a probiotic (which I think is the main new ingredient) to support skin health and not a lot else. There are no preservatives in here, as it's designed for the most sensitive skin types that can actually react to them, so it's in this airless opaque pump packaging.
Lately I've also been enjoying the Avene Tolerance Soothing Skin Recovery Cream* | £17.50. If the La Roche-Posay is what you reach for when your skin is already suffering, the Avene is your everyday option. It's a cream that's great for this skin barrier but also works under makeup. It has a slightly more lotion-like texture but does still feel substantial enough on my skin, softening things and giving me moisture that lasts all day. It's formulated with Avene's own thermal spring water so you can get the benefits of those minerals in what would just be empty 'aqua' space in most skincare products. Then there's squalane and fatty alcohols, again without a lot else so it's a simple formula. Really, the fewer ingredients, the better, if your skin gets really reactive around this time of year. Then, we have a bit of a treat product, for when you want a luxury experience but your skin is feeling reactive and you don't want to put fragrance or anything like that on it. The Kate Somerville DeliKate Recovery Cream* | £69 | full review | is the super-rich 'big guns' option in my lineup. Let's call it a duvet for your face; a big, cosy king-size 13.5 tog down duvet. I'm sure you get where we're going! This is a rich, nourishing cream packed full of ceramides (a fundamental component of the skin's moisture barrier), moisturising plant oils like sunflower and cucumber and peptides to repair, plump and hydrate the skin. We also have Vitamin E, calming, rice bran and bisabolol (the 'active' component of soothing chamomile extract). Delicious! That's all I have to say...
Yes, I'm still talking about moisturisers, but this is a different kind of product. I personally will put on my moisturiser and then - if I'm experiencing specific areas of irritation or dryness - I'll pop the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 | £9 | full review | on those areas. I particularly loved this last month when I had a cold; my nose was red and sore from blowing it so much and this helped to heal it so quickly. It's a light lotion-cream so can be worn during the day and under makeup without disturbing anything. It's formulated with glycerin, shea butter, La Roche-Posay's thermal spring water, panthenol (Vitamin B5 to soothe and calm the skin) and madecassoside, which is the 'active' part of the soothing, anti-inflammatory extract cica (centella asiatica). It's my ultimate healing balm!
Obviously sunscreen is a must, come rain or shine and a great option for dry, sensitive winter skin is the Skingredients Skin Shield SPF 50 PA +++* | £51 | full review. The reason this is great for winter skin is because the sunscreen filter in here is zinc oxide, which is less irritating for sensitive skin broadly speaking, but it also has anti-inflammatory benefits. Not just that, but it's paired alongside niacinamide, to stimulate ceramide production in the skin and help fight the spread of hyperpigmentation in the skin, but also allantoin and bisabolol, which are calming and soothing. But, there's more! I also love this because of it's hydrating, light fluid texture. It has a peachy tint to it too. Can I promise it will work across the skin tone spectrum? No, but it's my personal pick right now and I'm hoping to see more shades in it soon!
Then I have two hybrid creams that are amazing for both face and body, so perfect for days when you just want a lowkey routine or if you're travelling. The CeraVe Moisturising Cream | £16 (454g) | is always a favourite because it works for just about everything; dry, rough patches of skin? Sorted. Need an everyday non-greasy body cream? Got you covered. Want a simple option for your face to lock in hydration overnight? Perfect. It isn't thick, it isn't heavy and it's not difficult to rub in, but it really is a substantial cream with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E and fatty alcohols. If you want something a little lighter, more elegant (that works better during the day under makeup) and with a slightly more whipped texture, try the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream* | £30 (170g) | full review. This is formulated with ceramides, colloidal oat, shea butter, glycerin, fatty alcohols, squalane and allantoin. All fantastic stuff to help soften, moisturise and protect the skin, but you're getting it in this really light formula that can be used AM and PM and on your face and your body. Both products come in smaller tubes if you want something to throw in your bag and maybe use on your hands throughout the day.
For something a little more 'active' for the skin on my body, I've been a fan of the Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion* (Rose Scent) | £24 | for many years. It's geared towards KP, where you get those itchy, irritated red bumps on your skin that are generally harmless but can flare up in the cold and dry of winter. However, if you just have dry skin with that build-up of dead cells on its surface, this can also help with ashiness. It's formulated with hydration and nourishment - of course! - but also some lactic acid to help exfoliate the skin and loosen up some of the keratin plugs that lead to KP itch.
Let's round things off with lips and hands, which both tend to suffer at this time of year. When my lips are really sore, cracked, dry and in need of repair (rather than everyday moisture), I reach for the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Lips | £5.50. It's kind of a lip cream, so although not thick, heavy or greasy, it has a slightly waxy quality so is more of a product I'd reach for before bed rather than to use under lipstick or anything. It's formulated with panthenol and shea butter and can help that healing process from just one use. My hand pick isn't available in the UK but I love it so hope it comes over soons! The Skinfix Eczema + Hand Repair Cream | $24 CAD | is just fantastic. It's formulated with sweet almond oil, colloidal oat, jojoba, calendula, shea butter, Vitamin E and glycerin. Honestly, it's like putting my hand in a gorgeous glove; it just creates this fantastic barrier against the elements and locks hydration in.
What are your helpers for winter skin?