A few mornings ago—one of the first truly frigid mornings of the season—I noticed something funny. Before I put on my makeup, I misted with Caudalie Beauty Elixir, put on my serum, patted on my moisturizer, and finished blow-drying my hair—all business as usual. But when I was done with my hair a few minutes later, I absentmindedly grabbed my moisturizer again, patted it on, and watched it soak in. If we’re being honest, I could have done that three or four times over, and my skin would still have felt at least a tinge thirsty—a stark difference from my is-this-dew-or-is-this-grease problem I had all summer long.
It’s not exactly earth-shattering science: “A cold environment dries out the skin, so you need more moisturizer as it penetrates the skin and is more greatly absorbed,” says dermatologist Neil Sadick.
But what if my skin isn’t classically dry? Am I just wasting all the additional product I’m applying—or could all that moisture eventually lead to clogged pores and an oil-slicked T-zone? ”If your skin doesn’t feel greasy, you most likely need the extra hydration,” says Sadick, who recommends you start with a quarter-sized amount and build up from there—and look for anything that’s classified as a cream, rather than a lotion. “Creams have greater lipid content than lotions that have greater water content,” he says. “So if your skin is still dry after using a thinner lotion, you may want to switch to a cream.”
And if you’re worried about going through moisturizer like it’s water (I typically go through a jar twice as fast in the fall and winter), make sure you don’t skip one vital step: your serum. “Depending on the serum type, you may need less moisturizer after applying it, particularly if your skin is on the oily side,” says Sadick. Look for a serum with hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. We like Pestle and Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum and Immunocologie Hyaluronic Serum. Still looking for an affordable, thick winter moisturizer? Try one of these under-$20 creams.