The Best Winter Skincare Routines for 2023

Young african female wearing woolen sweater isolated on grey wall hiding face in a collar looking camera wink joyful

Key Points

  • Everything you need to survive winter's effect on the skin is included in this article.

  • Winter skincare routines protect your skin from harsh conditions and dry air.

  • Seal your skin in nourishing moisture for healthy, balanced skin.

  • Winter skincare routines provide everything your face and body need for intensive hydration and comfort.

Winter 2023 has been full of surprises! Blizzards, heavy snows, and dropping temps have many wondering how to protect their skin from the brutal chill factors. When your face, hands, feet, and other body parts feel battered by Old Man Winter, what is the most promising way to address dehydrated, dry, cracked, flaky, and sensitive skin?

Boosted hydration, extra soothing, and comfortable care are just a few of the best elements to add to your winter skincare routine for 2023. Each component prepares the skin for exposure to wintry weather conditions and temperatures daily. Following the best winter skincare routines of 2023 is crucial in achieving skin that is well-protected from the elements and overall healthy.

Winter Proof Your Routine

Your facial routine should incorporate more moisture this time of year. Every step of the skin care regimen needs to pamper, soothe, and nurture dry, uncomfortable skin. After frequent brutal exposure to windy days and chilly temps, skin doesn't stand a chance without adequate protection.

If your skin isn't hit hard outside, transitioning indoors isn't much easier. Often forced-air heating systems run constantly, making skin parched and uncomfortable while depleting it of valuable moisture.

Winter weather conditions encourage dry, dehydrated skin throughout the season. With the ups and downs of weather conditions, prepare your skin for the environment by using skin-loving ingredients and a self-care routine.

Remember to use skin care products on your lips, hands, and feet. These body parts are often neglected and are prone to flaky skin, cracking, and breaks or cracks in the skin that become cuts and abrasions. Feel free to be heavy-handed on the application in these areas before going out in the cold.

Hands moisturize with cream next to snowflakes

Heavy Moisturizers and Body Creams

During the winter months, it's important to switch to heavier moisturizers and creams for your face and body. These products provide more intense hydration than their lighter counterparts, making them ideal for combating dry, flaky winter skin.

  • Face moisturizers: Look for face moisturizers with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and shea butter. These ingredients deeply hydrate the skin, leaving it looking and feeling plump, healthy, and comforted.

  • Body creams: For your body, look for creams formulated with cocoa butter, shea butter, and coconut oil, as they deeply moisturize and heal the skin while leaving you soft and smooth.

  • Barrier protection: Heavy moisturizers and creams protect the skin's barrier, which becomes damaged during the winter due to harsh winds and low humidity. A healthy barrier helps to keep moisture in and irritants out, and in turn keeps the skin hydrated and silky smooth.

  • Non-greasy: Many heavy moisturizers and creams are non-greasy so they won't leave a tacky residue behind.

  • Soothing: Some heavy moisturizers and creams are formulated with ingredients to soothe irritated skin, like aloe vera, chamomile, and calendula.

Moisture Moisture Moisture

Winter skin can handle all the moisture you throw at it. Now's the time to use an array of hydrating ingredients and softening skincare heroes in your routine. Since heavy moisturizers or rich creams are everywhere, getting the right ingredients in the mix makes the difference between having soft skin or tons of heavy cream just sitting on top of your skin. Yuck!

Effective skincare ingredients are just what you need for moisture that goes further than the surface level for deep-down total hydration. Bonus: healthy well-hydrated skin is less prone to skin damage and the effects of environmental exposures like pollution and sunlight.

Woman dressed for winter surrounded by knit pillows

Hyaluronic Acid

Don't leave this buzzy skincare ingredient off the list for winter skincare routines. It is the cure for dry and dehydrated skin needing intensive moisture and care. It is both appropriate for the face and the body. Find it in facial and body-care formulas.

This skin care powerhouse ingredient holds 1000 times its weight in water. Now that is intensive moisturization!

Hyaluronic acid (HA) attracts water and binds it to the skin. The human body produces hyaluronic acid, but with age, the amount produced slows down. This is why using HA is highly encouraged for skin beginning to show signs of wrinkling, dryness, or lack of firmness. It is a key ingredient in skin health and assists in collagen production.

Hyaluronic acid smooths skin, lessens the appearance of wrinkles, and firms sagging skin. The tightening effect is ideal for skin that needs extra care and attention to fight off signs of aging.


Using ceramides in moisturizers replenishes this natural part of your skin that is easily compromised and depleted in harsher winter weather. Ceramides are a type of lipid –also known as fat — found in skin cells.

These lipids comprise 30-40 percent of the epidermis, the skin's outermost layer. Ceramides provide a barrier to environmental toxins and a defense against germs and infection-causing bacteria. In general, ceramides also offer anti-aging benefits for softer, smoother skin.

Replacing the ceramide level of your skin is highly important during winter. Without ceramides, your skin would become even more dehydrated, leading to irritation and very painful cracked skin. A ceramide deficiency also creates increased susceptibility to cuts, tears, and abrasions.

Woman smiles while outside during wintertime


Niacinamide is a hydration and skin care go-to. It is a form of B-3, an essential B vitamin that helps establish skin health and resiliency and contributes to overall wellness. A lack of niacinamide, which is a form of niacin, causes health and skin issues. Some skin issues from niacinamide depletion include lack of wound healing and skin dryness.

The skin also becomes more sun sensitive without the benefit of niacinamide.

Niacinamide has many skincare benefits that are especially useful in cold weather. This B vitamin protects ceramides and encourages the production of these lipids. It minimizes the appearance of redness and pore size. Niacinamide also reduces hyperpigmentation or dark spots and treats acne-prone skin during a severe breakout.

With so many applications and uses, it's no wonder why niacinamide is one of the most widely used skin care products on the market. Make it a part of your hydration routine this winter and keep dryness at bay.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a plant with proven medical uses. This home remedy protects the skin in first aid applications for minor burns, cuts, scrapes, and sunburn. This bottle of nature's goodness soothes and calms skin. Excellent for body care and an anti-inflammatory ingredient, aloe vera reduces inflammation and redness.

Forced-air heating systems make skin dehydrated and uncomfortable. Aloe vera is an excellent skincare hydration source. The polysaccharides in aloe form a protective barrier on the skin, trapping water inside skin cells and preventing it from evaporating.

Apply aloe vera often during the winter when the skin feels tight, dry, or uncomfortable. It is safe for people with advanced skincare issues such as eczema and psoriasis.

Woman applies sunscreen during winter activity

Shea Butter

When you think of a thick, rich moisturizer shea butter is probably one of the first skincare ingredients that come to mind. Shea butter is a natural emollient extracted from the nuts of the shea tree, which is native to Africa.

As the word butter indicates, shea is the ultimate nourishing nutrient-packed skin care product used in lotions, creams, body washes, body soap, and hair care.

Shea butter has been used for generations and centuries to heal and regenerate healthy skin cells weathered by the effects of dryness and dehydration. It is rich in fatty acids and nutrients, including oleic, stearic, linoleic, and vitamins A and E.

Shea is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that works wonders for sensitive skin, used to treat and reduce redness and irritation. The wetness from snowfall and chilled air lead to cracked skin and windburn. Shea butter forms a barrier on the skin, preventing harsh environmental elements from reaching its inner layers.

Shea butter seals in goodness and heals overworked dry skin. It is easy to find in local drugstores, big box retailers, and beauty supply stores.


Glycerin is excellent for maximum moisture. It is a colorless, odorless, clear substance often used in skin care. Glycerin is a humectant known for its hydration properties. Humectants attract water from the air and draw the molecules into the face, hair, and body.

Glycerin is a barrier protectant. Moisture stays in, which is vital during winter when skin becomes drier and more delicate. It improves skin texture and condition by smoothing dry patches and flaky areas.

Glycerin is also a favorite ingredient in hair care products as it adds hydration, control, and softness to hair types 3B-4C and curly hairstyles.

Look for glycerin on the label for a soothing winter skincare treatment that puts comfort back into your routine.

Skin cream containers and snowflakes

Does Extra Moisture Cause Breakouts and Acne?

No. As long as the ingredients are non-comedogenic, they should not clog pores and contribute to acne breakouts. Shea butter is an example of a non-comedogenic moisturizer, as is aloe vera and glycerin. Remember that even acne-prone and oily skin needs frequent moisturization during the winter.

You don't have to sacrifice protection and soothing comfort from hydrating skincare ingredients. Choose from moisturizers recommended for your skin type and specific issues. Many moisturizers are designed to address breakouts and are great for people who suffer from eczema, psoriasis, and sensitive skin.

Hydration products lessen the number of breakouts and heal inflamed, blotchy, and patchy skin. They establish a barrier over the area of concern. Skin regenerates and heals while being protected by a layer of lightweight facial moisturizer.

How To Handle Dry, Cracked Winter Skin

Cracked and flaky skin is a common problem during the winter months. The dry air from using forced heated air indoors strips the skin of its natural oils and depletes the skin's surface, making it dry, irritated, cracked, and uncomfortable. Here are a few tips for treating cracked and flaky skin:

  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize: An essential step in treating cracked and flaky skin is to ensure it is well-moisturized. Look for a heavy moisturizer or cream suitable to your skin type, and apply it twice a day, after cleansing and before bedtime. Use special care for areas prone to cracking and flaking, such as the hands, elbows, knees, feet, and lips.

  • Exfoliate gently: Exfoliating removes dead skin cells, contributing to flaky skin. However, it's important to be gentle when exfoliating, as too much scrubbing further dries out the skin or leaves it sore and inflamed. Look for a gentle exfoliating scrub or use a chemical exfoliant like lactic acid or glycolic acid.

  • Use a humidifier: Running a humidifier in your home adds moisture to the air, which benefits dry, flaky skin. It also relieves dry, stuffy noses and seasonal allergies that often occur in winter.

  • Wear gloves and socks: When going outside in cold weather, wear gloves and socks to protect your hands and feet from the cold, dry air and seal in the benefits of any skincare products.

Woman smiles and places hands on face in wintertime

  • Avoid hot water and long showers: Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils, so it's best to take lukewarm showers or baths instead. Also, try to keep your showers and baths short, as prolonged water exposure dries out the skin.

  • Change your soap: Consider using a hydrating soap with shea butter or other emollients to increase moisture during daily body care. Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, a celebrity dermatologist, says, "Hot baths and showers strip the skin of its natural lipid barrier and create a tight, itchy feeling afterward, especially if you're using traditional bar soaps."

  • Use lip balm: Lips are particularly susceptible to cracking and flaking during the winter, so apply a moisturizing lip balm throughout the day.

Healthy Winter Skin

By following these tips, you alleviate the symptoms of dry, flaky skin and keep your skin looking and feeling healthy all winter long. Everyone's skin is different, so paying attention to your skin and adjusting your routine accordingly is important.

Winter provides a fun opportunity to change up your skincare routine and add some thicker, more luxurious products to the mix. Say goodbye to Old Man Winter, and hello to glowing winter skin!

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