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You can usually tell when it’s the start of cold weather season, way before the first frost hits the ground — fellow commuters start sporting their puffers, co-workers start calling out sick and temperatures on your weather app start dropping day by day.
However, it’s your skin that usually bears the brunt of winter. From your face to your hands and feet, your skin might be experiencing some major moisture withdrawals, even after performing your sacred skincare routine. After all, it’s getting showered with hot water more frequently, slathered with hand sanitizer constantly and hit with sudden snow squalls. Even our (admittedly) skincare-obsessed editors have started frantically searching for dry skin remedies.
It’s common for skin, especially already dry skin, to get drier in the winter. The drastic drops in humidity and frequent gusts of wind mean that the moisture that’s usually in the air for skin to absorb just isn’t there, according to Jeffrey English, one of Sephora’s beauty directors who has been with the brand for almost 14 years.
Turning on the central heat and radiators in your home does the same thing, English said in an email to HuffPost Finds, building up dry cells on the surface of your skin and creating flakiness under makeup. So both the gust of the cold outside and bursts of heat inside can work hand in hand to give you drier-than-normal skin.
In a sea of skincare products promising to quench your skin’s thirst, it can be difficult to determine which ones will actually get rid of flakiness, reduce redness and help get your glow back. So English recommends looking out for two ingredients: lipids and ceramides.
“Lipids are essentially fatty acids and naturally occurring oils that work together to form a protective barrier on the skin, helping it to hold in moisture,” English said. “While ceramides serve as the web that hold skin cells together and help prevent water from escaping between them.”
In ingredient lists, ceramides would be listed as an actual ingredient in a product, and lipids can be found in the form of glycols, phospholipids, vitamin esters and squalene, English said.
Barrier+ products from SkinFix have some of English’s favorite products with lipids and ceramides, which leave his skin feeling “ultra-nourished and protected.”
For getting rid of dry hands in the moment, English prefers a heavier cream with ingredients like vitamin E, natural oils and fuller butters like shea and mango. And for a dry face, English suggests switching from lotion and gel formulas to thicker, cream-based moisturizers.
“Think of it like upgrading your moisturizer from a glass of milk and cookies, to a decadent chocolate-chip cookie-dough malt,” English said. “All that extra thick deliciousness makes for a plump and cushiony skin texture.”
If you’re following your skincare routine steps religiously and still feeling like your skin’s drier than usual, English recommends adding another layer to your regimen, like a treatment essence or softener that’ll “flood the skin with water in a fresh, non-greasy way.”
He carries around Tatcha’s Essence Plumping Skin Softener in his personal skincare bag. While it’s pricey, at $95, the softener’s got more than 1,000 reviews and a 4.5-star rating at Sephora.
You can also introduce a nighttime mask once or twice a week that’ll calm and add more moisture to your skin, according to English, like the Hypoallergenic Cica Sleeping Mask from Laneige. The mask can reduce the signs of red and chapped skin from icy wind, he said.
But the No. 1 piece of advice that English has for people experiencing dry skin issues is applying your skincare in the steam of the shower.
It’s a tip that he’s recently started doing. When he’s stepping out of the shower, English applies a treatment essence and hyaluronic acid, and he can feel this pulling the water to his skin “like a moisture magnet.”
And fortunately, English gave us a rundown of all his favorite Sephora products that’ll help fight off dry skin. So you don’t have to wonder what to add to your cart to rid yourself of a rough patch.
Take a look at a English’s must-haves for the dry skin days of winter: