Cold weather is rough on skin. Even the most balanced, well-behaved complexions are tested annually by bitter winds, low temperatures, and everything that comes with them—heating, especially, is a drying nightmare for the skin.
Needless to say, moisturizing becomes a priority long before the first frost. We slather on oils, serums, and creams like our lives depend on it and drink tons of water to stay hydrated from the inside out—but we could still be setting ourselves up for a dry-skin disaster starting with the very beginning of our routines.
Water is oh-so necessary for keeping us hydrated internally, but on our skin? Not quite so great. “Tap water contains heavy metals like iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc,” says dermatologist Dr. Debra Luftman. “These ingredients can interact with free radicals and damage collagen fibers in the skin.” They can also react poorly with the skin’s natural oils and leave you feeling way too dry. “Minerals [in tap water], as well as added fluoride and chlorine, can also dry out skin,” adds Dr. Luftman. Combine that with the naturally drying effects of winter, and we’re pretty much screwed.
So how in the world are you supposed to get your face properly clean in the winter without using water? We’re fierce proponents of micellar water as the perfect cold-weather-friendly alternative to standard cleansing. “Micellar water works like a miniature sponge, mopping up dirt and makeup while increasing the hydration of the skin,” explains Dr. Luftman. These cleansers use what’s called micellar technology to get the job done: Micelles are tiny particles that trap dirt, oil, and makeup, and the water-loving nature of these molecules means you don’t have to rinse after you use them.
Micellar water is a solid choice any time of year, but as Dr. Luftman says, it’s “especially great during the winter because it doesn’t strip skin.” Rather, it actually infuses the skin with moisture as it cleanses, so you totally avoid that tight, itchy feeling you might get from using your favorite foaming wash in the middle of December. If you’re oily, you may find that you don’t even need to use a moisturizer after, since micellar water cleansers leave skin feeling super soft and smooth—but layering your favorite cream on top will give you that extra boost of hydration.
Simple Cleansing Micellar Water ($7.99) may not be quite as inexpensive as water (i.e., free), but it certainly won’t break the bank, and the soothing new Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Micellar Cleanser ($30) will cure all that ails you … as far as your face goes, at least. As we head into the season, it’s high time to turn off the tap and switch over to a way to cleanse that won’t do you wrong.