3 Resolutions to Make for Healthy Winter Skin

Baby, it’s cold outside! You know what that means? Skin woes. The first thing to break down in frigid temps is your lipid barrier, which leads to endless cycles of dryness and inflammation. Make 2020 the year you keep your glow on with these easy resolutions.

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winter skin resolutions
Image Credit: Geoffrey Ross

Resolution 1: Choose a cleansing crew upgrade

Whether you want a brighter or smoother complexion in 2020, the journey starts at the sink. “Cleansing is a vital first step,” says Lori Beazer, a skin therapist at Consonant Skincare in Toronto. “No other product will penetrate the skin if you don’t cleanse properly.”

The current world of cleansers includes a wide range of options, from fast-acting aqueous formulas to gentle foams to viscose oils. To get a match that’s just right for you, cross-check your skin needs with your product preferences and your lifestyle choices.

“Definitely know your ingredients,” says Lindsay Barras, education manager at Dermalogica Canada. “You can use a milk- or cream-based cleanser if your skin is very dry. If your skin is acne-prone, you need a cleanser with alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid, such as salicylic, glycolic or lactic acid, to remove excess dirt and debris that clogs pores.”

To elevate your efforts, the pros encourage double cleansing, which starts with an oil-based product. “Oil travels the deepest into skin,” says Beazer. “If you’re wearing makeup, you can use that oil cleanse first to melt everything and then go in with another cleanser.” A standard practice in professional treatments, this method is an easy at-home trick to maximize efficacy. “You want to attract whatever you want to remove with an oil and then infuse the skin with specific ingredients to target breakouts, dryness and hyperpigmentation,” says Barras. “Just removing makeup isn’t enough.”

A finely tuned cleansing routine will also ensure healthy skin throughout the harsh winter season. “When it’s cold out, the first thing to break down is your skin’s lipid barrier, which exacerbates dehydration,” says Barras. A hyaluronic acid serum, followed by a lipid-rich cream, is an ideal rescue squad, and a thoroughly cleansed surface is best equipped to benefit from this combination. (Are your beauty products effective? There’s a skin-care test you can take.)

(Related: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Skin Smooth All Winter Long)

Jowaé Micellar Cleansing Water

This hydrating water boasts protective lumiphénols and hydrating vegetable glycerine among its 94 percent natural ingredients to help sweep away dirt ($24, jowae.ca).

L’Oréal Paris Fine Flowers Cleansing Gel

Notes of rose and jasmine elevate this alcohol-, soap- and fragrance-free formula, which is safe for sensitive skin ($12, shoppersdrugmart.ca).

Weleda Gentle Cleansing Foam

This cleansing foam gets a boost from the power of witch hazel to leave normal to combination skin refreshed without overdrying ($24, well.ca).

La Maison Valmont Wonder Falls

Formulated with prebiotics, probiotics and glacial spring water, this nourishing cream cleanser is the ultimate dry-skin aid ($205, saksfifthavenue.com).

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winter skin resolutions
Image Credit: Geoffrey Ross

Resolution 2: Add masks to me-time

In the dead of winter, it’s important to know that even a small commitment can breathe fresh life into weary skin. “A mask is a turbo-charged part of your skincare routine, boosting hydration and giving immediate benefits for fewer fine lines and wrinkles and more radiance,” says Dr. Dendy Engelman, consulting dermatologist for Elizabeth Arden. “Most people are on board with anything that makes you look better in 15 minutes.” During cold-weather months with low humidity, she incorporates a sleeping mask (a thicker, occlusive texture worn overnight) into her routine to prevent dryness. (Psst: Here’s how to get your face mask to work even harder.)

Dr. Engelman’s love of masks runs more than skin deep. “I tend to do a mask in the bath when I’m resting,” she says. “l like that mindfulness. There’s a whole self-care reset beyond the beauty aspect.”

Don’t love baths? Try Ole Henriksen’s holistic beauty approach. “I love to do stretching when I have a mask on because it’s good for elongation and breathing,” says the man behind the eponymous clean skincare line. “The way you use products always elevates the experience.” Want to fo the natural routine? Try DIY face masks.

Choose a mask that features hyaluronic acid to boost moisture levels. For a clearing effect, try a clay- or charcoal-based version. Every skin type can benefit from a mask, with gentle exfoliating power to remove dead surface-dwelling skin cells. “One of the mistakes people make with dry, sensitive skin is that they become fearful of exfoliation,” says Henriksen. “If you put moisturizer on top of flaky, dead skin cells, it doesn’t seal the skin or do its job because it’s fighting with all that excess.” His latest formula uses polyhydroxy acids to gently refine skin, while Nordic birch sap deeply hydrates, soothes and calms. “It’s a complete facial in a bottle,” he says.

(Related: The Best Sleeping Facial Masks for Brighter, Smoother Skin)

Consonant Hydrextreme Charcoal Sheet Mask

Inspired by the award-winning serum, this 100 percent natural treatment delivers intense hydration with staying power via a biodegradable fibre ($45 for a box of 4, consonantskincare.com).

Vichy Detox Clarifying Charcoal Mask

Activated charcoal and kaolin clay, mixed with vitamin E and spirulina extract, work to refine a congested texture ($35, vichy.ca).

Olay Overnight Gel Mask Firming

While you’re sleeping, this fast-absorbing, vitamin-rich treatment hydrates, strengthens and plumps skin ($35, olay.ca).

Olenhenriksen Phat Glow Facial

This one-step facial is a clean shortcut to smooth, radiant skin – with no irritation – thanks to pink bentonite clay, chia seed oil and cotton extract ($65, sephora.com).

Sisley Paris Velvet Sleeping Mask

Shea butter, thyme honey, macadamia oil and saffron flower extract create a dreamy blend that deeply nourishes skin ($175, nordstrom.com).

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winter skin resolutions
Image Credit: Geoffrey Ross

Resolution 3: Adhere to protection protocol

Here’s a gentle reminder: Every season is SPF season. From a pro’s point of view, those with the healthiest, happiest skin take its protection seriously. “It’s not sexy, and it’s not a secret,” says Dr. Engelman. “I’d love to see women be great at wearing daily sunscreen in 2020.” It’s the recurring point in the conversation around skin protection, which continues to investigate cumulative factors. While performing Consonant’s Custom Cold Laser therapy treatments, Beazer has noted an uptick in clients with photosensitivity, especially among those taking birth control or antidepressant medications. She hopes sharing sun care application tips will help encourage compliance to reduce damage. “Use it right after moisturizer so that everything blends in beautifully,” she says. “Don’t wait for your skin to dry.” (Psst: Check out the sunscreen rules you need to follow.)

For Barras, the focus is environmental. “We know sun damage is the number one cause of skin aging and can ultimately lead to skin cancer,” she says. “With greater awareness of what pollution can do to your skin, it’s no longer relevant to just protect against UVA and UVB rays.” Bestowing more than just invisible dirt particles, unclean air can alter the function of healthy skin. “Ozone, which is the most prevalent form of gaseous pollution, causes direct free-radical damage to your skin,” says Barras. “It breaks down the lipids and proteins that are needed for a healthy skin barrier.” A weakened exterior is a double disadvantage: It allows easier access for additional external elements and reduces skin’s ability to retain moisture.

To counterbalance harmful forces, call on a superhero: a vitamin C serum. The widely touted antioxidant is an expert go-to and ideal winter-skin reinforcement, but every concoction isn’t created equal. Don’t bargain shop for it, says Dr. Engelman. “You want to make sure that the vitamin C product you choose maintains its stability, potency and effectiveness,” she says. “It’s a finicky little molecule, and when things are tricky to formulate, they’re more expensive.” Invest in one with limited exposure to air and light, which reduces contamination and degradation overtime to maintain potency. “If you’re going to do this step, I want you to get its many benefits,” says Dr. Engelman. Along with protecting skin from free-radical damage, it brightens skin tone, reduces fine lines and wrinkles and smooths skin texture. “It does everything,” says Barras. “Using vitamin C is essential.” Apply it daily, prior to moisturizer and sun care.

(Related: 6 Best Sunscreens for People with Dark Skin Tones)

Elizabeth Arden Vitamin C Ceramide Capsules Radiance Renewal Serum

Blended with oils and ceramides, these smart single-use capsules keep vitamin C potency secure ($110, shoppersdrugmart.ca).

Cerave Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

Backed by ceramides and hydrators, this moisturizing lotion leaves a matte finish, with no greasy or chalky residue ($18, shoppersdrugmart.ca).

Dermalogica Prisma Protect SPF 30

This multitasking moisturizer combines hydration, antioxidant protection and radiance enhancers to deliver much more than just sun protection ($89, dermalogica.ca).

Next: Facial Cupping Will De-Puff Your Face While Relieving Built-Up Tension

Originally Published in Best Health Canada