How to Prevent Dry Skin Before the Cold Kicks In

Wendy Rodewald
Woman applying moisturizer

Photo: Getty Images

There are lots of things we love about fall: pumpkin-flavored everything, new wardrobe options, good TV. What we aren’t big fans of? The way the changing weather can mess with our glow. If you’re anything like us, the falling humidity levels and indoor heating leave your skin more parched than the dead leaves littering the ground. But it doesn’t have to be that way; here are five ways to stop dry skin this season before the itch sets in.

Crank up your humidifier.
Your skin is softer and dewier during the summer months for a reason — there’s more humidity in the air. Fake a more skin-friendly climate by running a humidifier while you sleep. Don’t have one? Place a dish of water on top of your radiator or hang your wet bath towels to dry in your bedroom — both of these DIY tricks add moisture to the environment.

Switch out your exfoliator.
Dr. Jennifer Linder, dermatologist and Chief Scientific Officer of PCA Skin, recommends switching any products containing glycolic acid for ones with lactic acid during the colder months. “Glycolic acid is a small molecule that penetrates quickly and tends to be best for oily and breakout-prone skin,” she explains. “Lactic acid is a larger molecule with slower penetration that also provides hydrating benefits. During the dry, cold winter months, most skin types will benefit more from lactic acid in place of glycolic acid.” Try PCA Skin Smoothing Toner (availability at, which helps refine pores with lactic acid and citric acid.

Layer your products.
Layering isn’t just for your wardrobe. A hydrating serum applied before your moisturizer can help give your skin an extra layer of protection, just like a camisole under your sweater will keep you warmer.

Change your cleanser.
The cleanser you use in the summer to wash sweat and oil off your face can be too harsh for the cooler months. “In the winter, the best thing to do is to change your cleanser before it gets cold,” says
Dr. Debra Jaliman, board-certified dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. “Change to a mild cleanser with ceramides or glycerin from an exfoliating cleanser.” Try CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser ($12.19,

Embrace oils.
New York dermatologist Dr. Amy Wechsler recommends safflower oil as a body moisturizer. “This common cooking ingredient is a super moisturizer, owing its favorite skin-enriching actions to its very high linoleic acid content, a fatty acid that skin normally makes to keep its moisture level up and barrier function intact,” she says.

What’s your go-to dry skin fix?

Read more: 28 Tips for Clear Skin in Less Than a Month