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It’s that time of the year again where temperatures drop, rain and snow visit frequently, and dry skin becomes a common affliction for us all. Those lightweight moisturizers and gel cleansers that were perfect for controlling oil in the summer are now your winter enemies.
Every year I recommend that my spa clients gradually transition to a different regimen during the “-ber” months (September – December). As the temperatures begin to drop, I recommend gradually swapping your gel cleanser to a creme cleanser, using an essence instead of toner, and then the final step, switching your lightweight lotion for a hydrating creme moisturizer. Each person is different, so it’s important to make singular item swaps as your climate changes and see how your skin reacts to each before switching out another product.
Symptoms of Dry Skin:
- Skin becomes significantly oily mid-to-late afternoon (true oily skin types are significantly glossy before 12 noon or even morning)
- Tight skin after cleansing face (before putting on a moisturizer)
- Possible dry patches on the cheeks
- Powder makeup appears “caked-on” when freshly applied
- Possibly flaky skin
- Gets sunburned easily and turns pink in the sun, oftentimes even with sunscreen
- Mostly found in but (not limited to): Caucasian and lighter skin types
- People ages 35+ are commonly affected by dry skin (but not all the time)
Winter Skin Care Tips
#1: Keep Drinking Water
People usually drink more water during the summertime, but it’s just as important to stay hydrated during winter too. Make it a habit to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep your skin plump and hydrated.
#2: Stay Away From Hot Water
It can be tempting to take a hot bath after you get home from work, but avoid hot water at all costs! Scalding temperatures can remove the much-needed sebum from your face much like how hot water can melt grease off a frying pan. Stick to warm showers only and use lukewarm water if you’re rinsing your face off at the sink.
#3: Use a Facial Cleanser Only Once a Day
There are several benefits to ditching your facial cleanser in the morning, and one of the biggest reasons is to retain the moisture barrier your skin rebuilt during your sleep. If you wake up feeling oily, rinse off with only water and then apply moisturizer afterward. This tip also helps to reduce oily skin over time.
#4: Exfoliate to Remove Dead Skin
If you don’t exfoliate, the buildup of dead skin cells and dry, flaky skin will prevent your products from absorbing properly. Exfoliate once a week to allow your skin to breathe and don’t forget the next step…
#5: Don’t Forget To Moisturize
If you hate the feeling of creams on your face, you will simply have to get used to it. Avoiding moisturizer makes your skin feel tight and also forces your skin to produce more oil. Dry skin also puts you at risk for accelerated aging, so it’s very important to have a regimen that includes moisturizing.
#6: Invest in a Sleeping Mask
Sleeping masks can be worn on top of your moisturizer at night to seal in all of your serums and creams and help your skin absorb products much more easily. Keep reading below for my top recommendations.
If you’re being bothered by parched skin, then scroll down for my top affordable Korean beauty products rolled all into one full Korean regimen, all under $200.
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*I am not a dermatologist nor do I have extensive medical training. I cannot prescribe you any medications or drugs to address your problems. I am, however, a licensed esthetician that can recommend products according to your skin type. If you are seeking medical advice or a professional medical evaluation, please speak with your doctor or dermatologist.
Step 1: Remove makeup
It’s very important to cleanse not once, but twice. The first cleanse removes all your makeup, and the second cleanse removes the rest of the leftover dirt and debris.
Contrary to popular belief, using an oil-based makeup remover gives better results, and here’s why: oil has more lubrication, so you’re not irritating or pulling at your skin when trying to remove long-lasting makeup. This is crucial for areas like the eyelids, where the skin is thinner and more fragile. Oil also helps remove sebum build-up inside the pores, so you’re actually getting a thorough cleanse.
The best oil cleanser for dry skin: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. There’s a reason 1 of these is sold every 10 seconds. DHC’s cleansing oil contains vitamins and antioxidants that help hydrate and nourish parched skin in desperate need of help. It removes even the toughest of makeup.
How to use: Apply a dime-sized amount and remove all face makeup, using circular massaging motions. Be gentle when removing eye makeup. Afterward, use cotton rounds to wipe off the excess oil, paying careful attention to the eyes. To remove eye makeup, swipe the cotton rounds in a downward stroke, following the direction of the lashes. Never pull sideways – this can irritate the thin eyelid skin and cause accelerated wrinkling.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: Innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Oil: $16.34
Step 2: Cleanse
The best facial cleanser for dry skin: Neogen Real Fresh Cleansing Stick. This cleansing stick is wonderful for people with sensitive skin. It also gently exfoliates with real green tea leaf.
How to use: A little bit goes a long way. Lather up a pea-sized amount and massage into the skin.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: Mizon Snail Foaming Cleanser: $6.30
Step 3: Exfoliate
Exfoliating is a very important step in Korean skincare. A popular practice of exfoliation is scrubbing off dead skin cells to encourage new cells to the surface. However, there are plenty more methods other than abrasive scrubbing. One of the most popular exfoliating methods include gentle chemical exfoliations with acids or peels, and these are highly encouraged in the Korean regimen.
The best exfoliant for dry skin: Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel. This AHA-based peeling gel is perfect to gently exfoliate thin and loose skin without causing any aggressive abrasions.
How to use: On dry skin, apply a quarter-sized amount and massage onto face. As a general rule of thumb, if you find your skin growing more dry, sensitive, or even extremely oily, you may be exfoliating too frequently. Give your skin a few days to recuperate in between exfoliating treatments.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Soft Peeling Gel: $11.50
Step 5: Tone
After cleansing, your skin is stripped of its protective barrier. More than likely, your skin won’t be at its normal 5.5 pH level. 5.5 is slightly acidic because the skin actually has what is called an “acid mantle,” or a protective barrier comprised of fatty acids. If your skin tends to be dry and sensitive, this is a sign of weaker acid mantle, meaning your skin is too alkaline. A toner helps bring your skin’s pH levels back to normal and creates a balanced environment for the next step in your skincare regimen.
The best toner for dry skin: The Face Shop Rice & Ceramide Moisturizing Facial Toner. The Russian caviar extract helps nourish and moisturize the skin, making your skin soft and hydrated.
How to use: Using a cotton round, swipe all over face and wait until dry before proceeding onto next step.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner: $15.35
Step 6: Ampoule
Ampoules are another leave-in treatment that addresses specific skin concerns. Because it is far more concentrated than both essences and serums, I recommend using an ampoule during your nighttime routine in place of an essence or serum.
The best ampoule for dry skin: Mizon’s Hyaluronic Acid 100 Ampoule is one of the star players in any dry skin routine. This ampoule features hyaluronic acid to deliver moisture.
How to use: Drop a pea or dime-sized amount onto palm and pat into face until dry. Be sure to avoid physical contact with the dropper to avoid contamination.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: MISSHA Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence: $27.79
Optional Step 7: Sheet Mask
The best sheet mask for dry skin: SKEDERM Snail Jelly Sheet Masks. These sheet masks contain snail extract and bee venom, which both help to smooth and tighten the skin. An added bonus is that both help the skin retain moisture.
How to use: Simply stick on the mask and leave on for 30 minutes, then remove the sheet. Do not rinse the product off – massage into the skin until absorbed. If you feel there’s too much, pat down with a tissue and then proceed to massage into skin.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Sheet Masks (Pack of 16): $9.90
Step 8: Eye Cream
Not everybody needs an eye cream, but I highly recommend them for mature folks whose skin may be getting thinner and more dry as the years pass. As we get older, our skin’s healing cycle slows down due to a decrease in collagen production, and this process starts around the age of 30.
The best eye cream for dry skin: Etude House Moistfull Collagen Eye Cream. Featuring baobab tree extracts and marine collagen, this eye cream helps to restore the resilience of tired and thin skin around the eyes, promoting a youthful appearance.
How to use: Using a fresh cotton swab to prevent contamination, scoop a tiny amount of eye cream the size of the white moons of your fingernails. Distribute this amount onto both ring fingers and gently pat the cream onto your eyelids, paying special attention to the area directly underneath your lower lash line. Use quick, light tapping motions until the product is absorbed. Do not rub, pull, or stretch the eyelids.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream: $21.90
Step 9: Moisturize
The best cream moisturizer for dry skin: The Face Shop’s Mango Seed Facial Butter is literally like ambrosia in a jar. It seals in moisture without feeling too heavy and is perfect for the drier winter months. A little goes a very long way with this product, so this jar could probably last you almost a year.
How to use: Scoop a dime-sized amount with a clean cotton swab and pat into the face until product is absorbed.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: Innisfree Orchid Intense Cream: $24.99
Optional Step: Nighttime Mask
Sometimes your skin is in turmoil and you just know you need to do a little something extra to help it. When we sleep, our body works hard to regenerate and heal itself in every department, and your skin is no exception to that. Incorporating an extra step during your slumber can help boost your skin’s ability to repair itself.
The best sleeping mask for dry skin: Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask is something I have been using for years. Each time I use this mask I can see a huge difference in my skin when I wake up. My skin tone is much more even and the texture is extremely soft. This mask also claims to have calming properties that aid in sleep. I’m not sure how solid this claim is, but I’ll never forget the first time I put this on and immediately passed out in bed. I think it may have been the light floral smell… or perhaps just the long day I had at work.
How to use: When your skin is suffering or if you’re prepping for a huge event, use this the day before. After your moisturizer is fully absorbed, massage in a pea-sized amount of this mask right over your moisturizer until your skin soaks it up. Since it functions as an extra layer that seals in everything underneath, you don’t want to lay it on too thick and suffocate your skin. Leave it on overnight and then rinse off in the morning, followed with a moisturizer.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: Cosrx Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask: $12.66
Step 10: Sunscreen
Sun exposure is the #1 cause of physical aging in the skin and is something that is also avoidable. Aside from wearing hats or staying out of the sun completely, sunscreen not only helps you age slower but also helps slow down the process of hyperpigmentation. Did you ever notice that after a day in the sun, your dark spots look even darker? The sun acts like glue to pigment and makes it harder for the spots to fade.
The best sunscreen for dry skin: A’Pieu’s Pure block Natural Sun Cream is a very creamy, non-tacky sunscreen containing aloe and raspberry extracts that moisturize parched skin without leaving a greasy residue. Not only is the texture perfect for thin skin, but it has a huge amount of SPF and PA. SPF only protects from UVB rays, whereas PA protects from UVA rays. And you see those +’s? That’s actually a PA ranking: the more +’s the better. Just like SPF’s number: the higher, the better.
How to use: Apply all over face, neck, and all other areas exposed to the sun. Reapply every 2 hours – no ingredient remains active all day!
If you don’t like your first choice, try: Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF50 PA+++ ($14.00)
Optional Step: BB Cream
If you’re an avid makeup lover and can’t seem to put the foundation down, a BB cream is a great alternative to taking care of your skin while getting the coverage you need. BB creams serve as a foundation with hydrating and brightening effects and can also double as a sunscreen. While BB and CC creams have made their debut in America, Korean-brand BB creams have still remained superior to their American counterparts.
Fun fact: Many BB creams have a limited selection of colors, but that’s because they actually change color to match your skin. They may appear gray at first, but give it some time and some window light and the product will oxidize.
The best BB cream for dry skin: Skin79’s Super+ VIP Gold BB Cream is perfect for those looking for coverage while receiving anti-aging benefits. This formulation contains gold and caviar extracts that provide a healthy dose of nutrition to the skin and also tons of collagen to retain moisture.
How to use: Pump a small amount onto the back of your hand, and using either your finger or foundation brush, apply it to the face as you would with a foundation. I personally like using my finger and blending it over dark spots for a more natural look. Give it time to oxidize, and then set with powder.
If you don’t like your first choice, try: MISSHA M Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF42 PA+++: $10.00
Have you swapped out your beauty products for the winter season yet? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter below for more affordable beauty tips from your favorite esthetician.
Looking for more product options? Visit my complete 10-Step Korean Skincare Guide.