As the temperature continues to plummets, our skin needs an extra dose of TLC. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to rush out and buy an ultra-thick moisturiser – instead, the key to sorting out parched, irritated skin is to adopt a layered approach with a range of products, from moisturising essences and hydrating serums to nutrient-rich oils. After years of testing products, The Glossary’s Beauty Director Alessandra Steinherr has created the ultimate list of winter skincare saviours, whittling it down to a few tried-and-tested heroes. Here’s her guide to keeping your skin at its very best this winter.
Regardless of your skin type, winter takes its toll. Whether it’s from the cold weather outside or the central heating inside, skin can end up dehydrated and feeling tight, uncomfortable and irritated. You’d think the solution is a richer moisturiser, but while this might work for some, it’s not the answer.
The first thing to do is switch to a soap and sulphate-free, non-foaming cleanser. I get that we love the feeling of a squeaky-clean face, but lathering cleansers have an alkaline pH, which can strip away the acid mantle, the barrier that protects skin from drying out. And always use lukewarm water to rinse rather than hot, as hot water pulls moisture out of the skin.
But the real secret to properly hydrated winter skin is a three-step layering approach, morning and night – almost like a mille-feuille. The first layer is a moisturising essence – an essence is a very light liquid treatment that you pat on your face after cleansing. It is packed full of humectants (water-attracting ingredients, such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid), which you want closest to your skin.
Then, while still damp, apply a serum. Why? Serums hold a high percentage of actives and by layering them next, it’s a great way of getting maximum benefits. There are many serums, but we are going to focus on hydration, skin barrier protection and repair. The third layer will be your moisturiser. To prevent the evaporation of water from your skin, you want a combination of humectants (such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin and panthenol), emollients (skin softeners such as squalene and tricylerides) and occlusives (shea and cocoa butter). The latter form a protective barrier, locking in moisture beneath.
I tend to use a facial oil at night on top of my moisturiser. For me, this is more of an unwinding ritual. Likewise, masks are extra pamper time. Go for a rich cream mask over a sheet mask for nourishment. I like to do mine in the evening after cleansing, but before applying the hydrating layers.
Finally, approach your bodycare like your face. Skin can get very dry because we wear so many clothes when it’s cold, and fabric absorbs moisture. Again, keep the shower water lukewarm, use a gentle soap and layer your body serum under a body cream.
As the cold season takes hold, these are my winter skincare saviours.
Alex Steinherr's Skincare Saviours
Clé de Peau
Dr Lara Devgan
Clé de Peau Beauté Softening Cleansing Foam might have a thick lather, but it won’t leave skin feeling tight. It’s particularly good for dull complexions, as it helps retain the skin’s natural moisture, leaving it glowy and smooth. For drier skin, try Augustinus Bader The Cream Cleansing Balm. It feels rich, rather than heavy, melting into skin to remove impurities and make-up, leaving it really conditioned. Dr Lara Devgan Advanced Revitalising Cleanser is enriched with antioxidants to replenish and rejuvenate, as well as soothing aloe and botanical extracts – a great all-rounder. If you’re on the combination or oily side, MZ Skin Cleanse & Clarify is a lightweight formula that gives that clean feeling without being squeaky.
Omorovicza Omoressence is a very gentle essence that has a lovely softening effect. It is non-irritating, and I really like the ingredients, which include silicium to boost the skin’s elasticity, as well as amino acids and natural emollients. Sensai Cellular Performance Essence is formulated with hyaluronic acid, which literally saturates the skin with moisture, restoring firmness and plumpness. Although Estée Lauder Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion feels like water, it contains ferments, which help strengthen and nourish. I like to press it in with my hands, rather than using a cotton pad. The SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is a bestseller for a reason – it gives a light layer of hydration to energise and brighten the skin.
If you tend to get redness and inflammation in winter, Venn Probiotics Cica Complex Biome Booster is incredibly soothing (cica is known for its calming properties) for sensitive, stressed complexions. Noble Panacea Intense Renewal Serum comes in single doses, and is more about firming, lifting and tightening if you feel your skin is a bit slack. Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum also comes in single-dosage capsules. This is one of the best products out there. Ceramide levels deplete with age and this light formula enhances skin barrier repair function and increases moisturisation. RéVive Peau Magnifique Serum is your serious, advanced anti-ageing product. It is also really hydrating, promising to restore facial fullness.
La Mer Moisturising Cream is the quintessential winter moisturiser. It has that thickness and occlusivity to it that you need to prevent epidermal water loss and is incredibly soothing. If you prefer a balm consistency, turn to Pietro Simone Skin-Alert Unguent – I would use this at night for extreme dryness, or skin that has been compromised in the cold weather. Givenchy Le Soin Noir Crème has a velvety texture that also makes skin feel really comfortable, plus it contains algae, a skincare powerhouse that works on fine lines and wrinkles.
La Mer The Renewal Oil is a beautiful, light oil, making it suitable for people who don’t have super-dry skin. It has the Miracle Broth in it, which is proprietary to La Mer, and is packed with nutrients and minerals. If you want the anti-ageing action of a retinoid, but without the drying effect, Ren Bio Retinoid Youth Concentrate Oil is a great plant based retinol alternative. Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil is packed with high performance botanicals, which both protect from environmental damage and make the skin glow. Everything Marie Reynolds does is for skin integrity, including her Anoint Epidermal Oil – while essential fatty acids replenish the skin barrier, vitamins A, C and E condition.
Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask is a classic – its soft creamy formula working to replenish lost moisture and revitalise tired skin. Even though it is deeply nourishing, those with combination skin can use it because it doesn’t leave a greasy residue. Royal Fern Phytoactive Hydra-Firm Intense Mask is refreshing and light. The combination of antioxidant-rich plant extracts, chlorophyll and hyaluronic acid work together to give life back to skin. I feel more rosy after I use it – my skin comes alive. By contrast, Guerlain Orchidée Impériale The Mask is really intensive and feels mega indulgent. It has been developed for skin that has been damaged by environmental stress, leaving it comforted. It’s quite incredible.
Rouge Hermès Lip Care Balm is a really chic balm for daytime. Infused with a high concentration of beeswax and candelilla wax, it’s nourishing yet works really well under lipstick, as it’s not greasy. Sarah Chapman Overnight Lip Concentrate is an anti-ageing conditioning balm with face-care-grade ingredients including hyaluronic acid, omegas and peptides, meaning it hydrates, conditions and boosts lip volume. Another product for using overnight is Estée Lauder Nighttime Rescue Lip Oil-Serum. It is enriched with oils such as camellia, rose and lavender, so it’s fantastic if you’ve got severely dry lips. Summer Fridays Lip Butter Balm is formulated with vegan waxes, has a gorgeous vanilla scent and really plumps the lips.
You want to exfoliate once a week, and By Terry Baume de Rose Body Scrub is beautiful. Sugar crystals gently buff the skin, and the combination of rose butter, rosehip oil and rose essential wax leaves skin super soft and smelling divine. Bioeffect EGF Body Serum is a brilliant moisture-booster, and you get an anti-ageing, firming action, too. Susanne Kaufmann Restorative Toning Body Cream has a rich, creamy texture that seals in all the moisture. You have to wait a few minutes before getting dressed, but it’s worth it. Sisley Velvet Nourishing Body Cream is a favourite I always return to – the non-sticky, non-greasy formula contains saffron flower extract to soothe dry skin, while shea butter and oils leave it wonderfully supple.