Cold Weather Skin Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Complexion

Wendy Rodewald
Winter skin

Photo: Getty Images

Once the indoor heat kicks in, it’s all downhill for skin. Between dry indoor air and snowy, windy weather, your complexion can take a beating this time of year. But there are steps you can take to head off winter dryness before it makes you want to cover up your face with a scarf. Start by nixing these bad habits ASAP.

1. Not protecting your skin before heading outdoors.
We don’t just mean SPF (though of course you already know that sunscreen is just as important in the chillier months as it is at the beach). Your skin also needs a protective layer to help keep its moisture barrier intact. Step out with a naked face and the wind and cold can create tiny cracks in your skin’s surface, leading to redness, dry skin and damage. Slather a lotion with SPF on any exposed areas before venturing out into the cold.

2. Not using a humidifier.
A humidifier is our number one trick to preserving skin’s glow all winter. Not only does adding humidity to dry indoor air help you breathe better, it helps your skin lose less moisture. If you don’t own a humidifier, a bowl of water placed on top of a radiator will also work (it adds moisture to the air as the water evaporates).

3. Washing with hot water.
Whether you’re showering in it, splashing it on your face, or rinsing your hands with it, hot water strips your skin of its natural oils and leaves it parched. Rinse with warm or cool water instead.

4. Peeling flaky skin.
Don’t do this! Peeling off your skin can lead to infection and scarring, and can actually make uneven texture worse. Instead, use an exfoliating product that combines a chemical exfoliant (i.e. an acid or enzyme) with a gentle mechanical exfoliant (A.K.A. scrubbing beads) to slough off dead skin. We like Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($22-$85,

5. Using mineral oil-based moisturizers.
Lip balms and made with mineral oil or petrolatum don’t get absorbed; instead they create an occlusive barrier on skin’s surface. This helps trap moisture in, but doesn’t hydrate skin that’s already parched. Instead, try a product with hyaluronic acid, ceramides or even an oil — all of which penetrate skin to moisturize beyond the surface.

6. Using heavy face creams.
Okay, using a heavy cream isn’t bad per se, but it’s not the most efficient way to combat dry skin. Instead of relying on a single rich product, layer a lightweight moisturizing serum under your face cream first to better hydrate skin and lock in moisture. Think of it like long johns for your face.

Read more: 25 Genius Ways to Prevent and Cure Chapped Lips