I have combination/oily skin usually, but all the dry indoor heat and trips out into the blistering cold in New England are driving my skin to an identity crisis. Yesterday, I smeared hand cream on my face while at work, I was so desperate for relief.
As we transition from fall to winter here in the Northeast, it’s important to change up your skin care routine and retire the lighter, summer-appropriate stuff in favor of thicker, creamier stuff. Your face needs some TLC during this shoulder season (and I think we all want to look good for the holidays)!
A friend sent the following question just yesterday actually:
Q: For the past few days, my face has been ridiculously sensitive – it turns red when I wash it and stings when I put on moisturizer or even touch it. I am assuming it’s due to the weather changing. Do you have a suggestion for a cleanser? Probably a cream cleanser, right? I actually put a little Vaseline on my face for some relief and it felt so much better. – Shawna
A: You got it. As the temp drops, the heat goes on inside and literally saps the moisture right out of your skin. The hot-to-cold transition from inside to outside doesn’t help either. For severe dryness relief initially, try a little Neosporin, Aquaphor, or Vaseline. I don’t like how the latter two grease up your face though, so for a more long term (winter) fix you should invest in just about any thick, creamy, moisturizer; 99% of these are sold in fat little tubs vs. stand-up pumps (which tend to be thinner moisturizers), but more on this below in #2.
1. Definitely switch your cleanser from a foam/liquid to a cream cleanser or at least one made for dry skin. Don’t buy anything that says oil-free, foaming, gel, froth, clarifying, purifying, etc. Avoid stuff in a pump and don’t even think about using anything in a bar form (foamy). These are cue words for products designed specifically for oily skin. Go for one specifically for dry skin because it will be more moisturizing. Don’t default to an oil-free cleanser if you think you have combination skin; it will dry out the rest of your face too much in the fall/winter. I like to have a few different-targeted cleansers on hand that I rotate day to day depending on what my skin needs. Just be careful not to use too many if you have sensitive skin!
I have used and like these cleansers for dry, sensitive skin:
For uber sensitive skin: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $9
Not technically a “cream” but VERY gentle. It doesn’t “add” moisture which bugs me and it’s in a pump, so be careful not to use too much, but this is what derms give their post-op laser patients, so it’s the facial cleansing equivalent to baby shampoo.
If you have $$$ to spend: Soy Face Cleanser by Fresh, $38
Commence my love letter to this product; cleanses skin while amino-rich soy promotes moisture retention, elasticity, and firmness. To seal the deal, cucumber extract and borage seed oil nourish, enrich and calm skin. Love the gorgeous, simple packaging, too.
An economical/no-fuss cleanser: Gentle Cleansing Cream, Mary Kay, $12
A cream cleanser specially formulated for dry skin that helps restore natural moisture balance, is non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores, and is clinically tested for skin irritancy and allergy. Bonus – No animal testing.
Aveeno‘s Ultra-Calming line used to feature an incredible cream cleanser but they discontinued it and there isn’t a comparable alt available yet. I am not impressed at all by the Positively Radiant Cleanser, but that’s a future post!
*One note about the stinging sensation you felt. First, have you started using any new products on your face where you felt the stinging? I think dryness is probably causing this irritation, but product irritation from makeup or even a new detergent is a possibility too. Clean all your makeup brushes and toss any old blushes, bronzers, foundations or concealers. It’s not likely that you’re using expired cleanser (we go through it too fast), but check that too, just to be safe!
In addition to the cleanser probably being too strong for your dried out skin, you may need to rinse your face more just to get all your cleanser off. Foaming cleansers take something like 5,000 rinses to wash totally off your face. [What?!] Only the oiliest of skin can really tolerate that kind of power. For example, my skin EATS foam cleanser for breakfast. I could probably wash my face with dish soap and still be oily in my T-Zone. But that’s just me and that’s JUST in the summer.
2. Update your moisturizer. You need something thick and creamy that will put a physical barrier between your skin and the dry indoor heat and bitter cold. A good rule of thumb for choosing one is to look for something the consistency of pudding, hence the “tub” I mentioned seeking out. Generally you can tell if a product is going to be super moisturizing based on how thick it is, unless you’re talking about face oil. Though not at all as “thick” as pudding, there is something velvety about face oil. It’s thick, but thin. It’s weird like that, but it works like magic. While skin is still damp, right out of the shower, a drop of face oil can be amazing for dry skin, over which I’d apply your creamy moisturizer. You want to lock moisture into skin, so if you can apply these while your skin is damp, it helps a lot.
Here are my top picks for dry skin moisturizers:
For very sensitive skin: Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, $11
For the most sensitive skin, use this. It won’t irritate at all, but you may need to reapply throughout the day to get the moisture impact you likely need.
For a moisturized, dewy look: Mary Kay Intense Moisturizing Cream, $30
Infuses skin with marine extract for a gorgeous, almost shimmery, dewy-look. NOT for oily skin, but I’ve been using everywhere but my T-Zone and it has saved my crazy dry winter skin. Use on top of your usual basic moisturizer for even more POW. Try using as an instant moisture mask: exfoliate your skin, then slather this on while you stand in a steamy shower for a 5 minutes. Blot off excess and prepare for people to stop you all day to ask what the hell you’re doing differently.
For 24-hour hydration Vichy Nutrilogie 2 Intensive Nourishing Moisturizer Cream, $31.50 It’s made in France- – -enough said! This replenishes the skins cutaneous lipids (natural oils produced by the skin to help keep it soft and supple) with no oily sensation. Amazing. And gentle enough for sensitive skin.
Best organic (w/ SPF!): Lavender Moisture Plus Lotion with SPF 18, $16.95
I love hyaluronic acid for its moisturizing qualities, but this ALSO smells like heaven because of the lavendar oil, has a bunch of OTHER skin-perfecting essential oils, it has a decent SPF so you get some sun protection AND IT’S ORGANIC. Buy this now. Run to the nearest Whole Foods. Seriously. Go.
Most luxurious splurge: Rodin’s Olio Lusso Face Oil, $140
Oil on the face scares a lot of people but none of the 11 essential oils in this clog pores. Instead, 2-3 drops massaged all over the face give is a gorgeous glow. Smells like a trip to the spa — it’s very strong and floral. I happen to love the scent, but it may not be for everyone. (Longer review to come; I received samples over the summer!)
Also consider: Clinique Repairwear Intensive Night Cream, $50; or their Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, $24.50; Ponds Dry Skin Cream, $7; and Avene Hydrance Optimale Rich Hydrating Cream, $28 (*Allure Mag. 2010 Best of Beauty Winner)
3. For extra credit:
- Keep a humidifier on in your bedroom at night to keep skin moisturized. I don’t have one, but have found that keeping a shallow bowl of water near my bed at night makes a difference. (We have oil heat, which really dries the air.)
- Exfoliate skin 2-3 times a week. Get that dead skin off your face!
- Try misting your face with a squirt bottle of water throughout the day or if you’re fancier, try this, this or this. When I was a kid, I used to always steal my mom’s Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Moisture Mist® Hydrating Spray, for hair AND face. It’s AMAZING. Try it. But yes, I admit it, I own the Evian face mist!
- Swap out powder makeups for liquids and creams, which tend to be less drying.
- Make H2O your bff and cut back on dehydrating coffee. Bonus points if you can squirt some lemon juice in there for its skin-beautifying vitamin C.
*I don’t advise you to toss slices in there unless you buy organic…too many pesticides and so not worth the long-term health risks.
- Pop a fish oil vitamin daily. Omega-3 fatty acids help boost hydration in skin, help fight inflammation, and help delay the aging process. *I’ll post a link to the one I take once I check at home.
Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions.