How to Add a Subtle Glow to Dull Winter Skin

Shannon Farrell


Although we can’t control inclement winter weather, from frigid temperatures and dry air to blistering winds, we can control its effect on our skin. While the right skin care routine can do wonders for preventing dryness and damage, it’s only through makeup tactics that you can restore a soft, warm-weather glow without jetting to the Bahamas… or worse, heading to the tanning salon. Dull winter skin doesn’t stand a chance against these easy strategies.

“Winter brings dry air, [which] quickly wicks moisture from our skin,” says Dr. Jill Waibel, the founder of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute. “The loss of moisture causes dry, scaly, and itchy skin that can be painful and uncomfortable.” To get any kind of glow back, the skin must first be sufficiently hydrated. “If you see your skin start to dry out, you need to add moisturizer once or twice a day,” says Dr. Waibel. “During the winter, consider a thicker, creamier moisturizer, like Créme De La Mer, versus a lighter moisturizer that’s ideally suited for warmer months.”

Winter often calls for a new cleanser, too—trade in your foaming formulas for creamy cleansers with emollients, which impart both hydrating and soothing properties. We’re loving the new First Aid Beauty Milk Oil Conditioning Cleanser, but you also can’t go wrong with the classic Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. In addition, an exfoliator and a serum should become staples, with the serum applied daily underneath your moisturizer and the exfoliator used twice a week. The key is to find an exfoliant formula that removes dead, flaky skin to prevent a dull complexion, but is gentle enough that it won’t cause redness or dryness. “It’s important to exfoliate,” Waibel says, “so moisturizers can be absorbed more efficiently into the skin.” Smooth skin also reflects more light, creating the illusion of a glow with or without makeup.

When choosing the optional serum for clear, glowing skin, look for vitamin C in the ingredients list. The antioxidant is known for its brightening effect and ability to fade sun spots, which also contribute to dull skin. Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster not only contains a five-source vitamin C complex, but it’s formulated with green tea extract and sodium hyaluronate so it hydrates while also soothing against the harsh elements.

Makeup Remedies
If your skin still looks a little lackluster, it’s time to use makeup to your advantage. “Look for products that have a luminizing quality,” says Joanna Schlip, the celebrity makeup artist for Physicians Formula. The three products you should invest in are bronzer, blush, and highlighter but don’t go overboard—unless you’re strategic with placement and color, you run the risk of looking too “done up” or like your makeup is caked on. Bronzer instantly adds warmth to the skin, but for obvious reasons, winter skin shouldn’t skew too warm. “Adjust your hue to make sure your glow looks natural. If you typically go for two shades deeper, opt for just one for a seasonally-appropriate glow,” Schlip says. She recommends purchasing a bronzer with multiple shades, like Physicians Formula Nude Wear Glowing Nude Bronzer, so you can customize to your liking throughout the year.

“To keep your flush looking natural and youthful, apply blush to the apples of the cheeks,” says Schlip. “Just smile and add a little to the middle of your cheeks. You can always add more if needed, but you can’t take it away.” After you’ve dusted on your blush, finish the look by applying a sheer wash of highlighter along the tops of the cheekbones, your Cupid’s bow, under the brow bone, and at the inner corner of the eyes. Because winter skin often errs on the side of dry, employ a moisturizing liquid highlighter like Benefit Cosmetics High Beam.

Read more: How to Find a Hydrating Hand Cream That Won’t Leave You Greasy