5 of the Most Effective Ways to Combat Dull, Dry Winter Skin on Your Face

Now is the time to update your routine for the harsh, cold weather.

This probably makes me a bad Canadian, but isn't winter the WORST? It's freezing, it's windy... and it's impossible to look cute when you have to wear a trillion layers.

One of the most annoying things of all is what the season does to our skin. Bouncing between freezing temps and dry indoor heating, you know the drill: complexions can get tight, dehydrated, rough, flaky and dull. Basically the opposite of #goals.

While there's nothing you can do about the weather—short of hopping on a flight to somewhere tropical!—there are some simple changes you can make to your skincare routine starting now. 

A few of my favourite winter skincare products from Shoppers Drug Mart.

Everything you see here is available at Shoppers Drug Mart and/or their new online shopping destination, BeautyBoutique.ca (where you get free shipping on orders over $75). Obviously, it goes without saying that Shoppers is a one-stop shop for all things beauty and skincare. They are the only store that carries such a huge array of brands at ALL price points, and you can also get help from their in-store experts... but more on that in a sec!

I chose each product on this list for a specific reason, so let's get to it, shall we? Here's how you can prevent and repair dull, dry winter skin:

1. Get a Really Good, Bland Moisturizer.

Dr Roebuck's Pure, available at BeautyBoutique.ca.

Find a face cream that you like and use it every day. The best kind to get is one that a) adds water back into the skin, and then b) seals it in to prevent evaporation. 

Since skin is more sensitive and vulnerable in harsh weather, it's not a bad idea to err on the side of blandness. Think: hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and minimal ingredients.

One product that totally fits the bill is Dr Roebuck's Pure, which I also wrote about here. It's definitely one of the better moisturizers I've come across for healing and protecting winter skin. It was specifically formulated for reactive skin, and it moisturizes incredibly well, without leaving an oily feel. 

2. Layer High-Tech Ingredients.

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, available at Shoppers Drug Mart.

It may be winter, but if you still want your skincare to be doing something—targeting fine lines, pigmentation, etc.—then you can try layering your skincare products.

If you're like me and usually only wear a serum, then this might be as simple as adding a cream over top to help fight cold-weather dehydration and the first signs of aging. I think the fragrance-free version of Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream is one of the best deals at the drugstore. With its rich but non-greasy texture, and ingredients list packed with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and peptides, you'd think it would be much more expensive. I don't know about "sculpting," but it definitely hydrates, and should help with lines and dullness.

The rich texture of Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, available at Shoppers Drug Mart.

If you're currently only using a cream, then another way to incorporate layering is by wearing a moisturizing serum underneath it. Serums are more powerful than moisturizers, so this way, you can get maximum hydration plus intensive anti-aging benefits. A couple serums to try: No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum Bottle, which helps reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, which actually enhances any serums and moisturizers that follow.

If you need even more of a barrier, you can add a few drops of face oil underneath your makeup. The new Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil protects and hydrates while also helping foundation to go on more smoothly.

PS: It goes without saying that if you're going to be outside, don't forget to incorporate a layer of sunscreen as your final step before makeup!

3. Cut Back On Harsh Products.

Indeed Labs Retinol Reface Retinol Skin Resurfacer, available at Shoppers Drug Mart.

So I mentioned the skin barrier. We all have one—it consists of the outermost layers of skin and is protective against foreign bacteria, microbes and allergens getting in, while preventing water from getting out. 

Of course, exposure to winter weather can seriously deplete your barrier function. Same with hot water, washing your face too often or applying a cleanser that is too aggressive for your skin type. A non-foaming and pH-balanced face wash is the way to go!

Also consider your treatment products. You might want to shelf anything with active ingredients at this time of year, or at least ease up on how often you use it. Alternatively, choose a slightly weaker version. One easy swap could be to go from a harsh retinoid to an over-the-counter retinol, such as Indeed Labs Retinol Reface Retinol Skin Resurfacer. A gentler derivative of vitamin A, it's still going to target fine lines and dull, rough skin—but won't cause peeling, irritation or dryness.

4. Exfoliate... Gently!

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme, available at Shoppers Drug Mart.

You might think exfoliation is a big no-no in the winter, but actually, it can really benefit you. Think about it. One of the hallmarks of dry skin is a build-up of dead skin cells on its surface. If you're not exfoliating them away, and just piling on the moisturizer, then what you are doing is trying to re-hydrate dead skin cells. Better to gently remove them and allow the moisture to get where it's really needed, to the living cells.

You can exfoliate with a scrub, cleansing brush or acid to remove those surface dead cells. My preference is for acids, because they're the most gentle and won't cause micro-tears in the skin, which would further impair the barrier. Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme are a mix of glycolic, salicylic and lactic acids—and are seriously awesome. Not only will they help clear the way for your moisturizer, but they should also boost your glow and de-clog congested pores. 

The Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme, available at Shoppers Drug Mart, help speed up the skin's natural exfoliation process.

No matter which exfoliating product you choose, you don't want to overdo it. Make sure you start slowly—say, once or twice a week—and build up from there. (Nip + Fab says their pads can be used up to three times a week, at night.) If your skin starts to get tight, flaky or irritated, back off and exfoliate less often.

After you exfoliate, make sure to add moisture back in. You could use one of the moisturizing creams I mentioned, or even treat yourself to a weekly moisturizing mask.

5. Ask For Help at Shoppers Drug Mart.

The experts at Shoppers Drug Mart can help you set up your own winter skincare regimen.

By now, you might have some questions, and are probably wondering about the best products for your skin. Did you know that you can speak to a skincare expert in-store at any Shoppers Drug Mart? They can help with advice and product recommendations, if you're not sure what you need or just want to find out what's new.

They also have a couple of really cool in-store skin tools. There's a moisture checker that determines what level of hydration you require, as well as a video microscope tool that magnifies the skin's surface (eeks!), so your expert can address specific concerns. 

As far as products go, the great thing about Shoppers is that their experts are knowledgeable about a wide range of brands... so they're not going to try and sell you on just one range. Many skincare items also have Optimum offers, so that's always a good time to stock up!


Smart skincare swaps to make this winter.

To re-cap, here are my ideal winter skincare steps:

  • Gentle cleansing with pH-balanced face wash and lukewarm water
  • Gentle acid exfoliation
  • Moisturizing/anti-aging serum
  • Moisturizing/anti-aging cream, or even oil, layered on top
  • Sunscreen, if needed
  • Avoid harsh ingredients and choose bland products for reactive skin

Hopefully this has you feeling a bit better equipped to face the harsh Canadian weather! You can find all of the products I mentioned, and MANY more, at Shoppers Drug Mart locations across Canada and/or BeautyBoutique.ca

Tell me... How do YOU ward off dry and dull skin during winter?

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