close-up of hands applying lotion

Winter Skincare: The Best Products, Tips & Tricks

Last Updated: September 25, 2022

We polled the Grove Collaborative staff to reveal the best winter and cold climate skincare products to add to your routine, plus our tips for handling the change in seasons.

Despite being the largest organ of the body (and the only one you can actually see every day), it’s all too easy to forget about your skin in the winter, when it's bundled under heavy coats and multiple layers. But as anyone who's had to deal with wind-whipped cheeks, stubborn dry-skin flakiness, or reactiveness from extreme temperature changes (we see you, office thermostat) can tell you, the coldest months of the year are oftentimes the ones when you skin needs love the most.

While we could turn to the internet for common winter skincare recommendations (psh, lazy), we decided to instead trust the people who have actually put these products to the test: our Grove staff. And with an office in Portland, Maine, they definitely know cold.

We polled staffers for some of their favorite fixes for common but easy-to-treat cold weather skin conditions, and discovered a few cult favorite products in the mix. Read on for what you should add to your cart the next time temperatures drop.

Winter skincare basics

Why does skin get dry in the winter?

Dry winter air, constant indoor heating, and all that hand washing – no wonder your skin is stressed. Cold, dry air causes the moisture in your skin to evaporate at a faster rate than in warmer weather. All the dry artificial indoor heat can really do a number on your delicate dermis too.

Is it important to change your skincare routine in winter?

Yep. Just like pulling out your cozier winter wear, you should switch up your skin routine with the seasons. But instead of adding stress to your already-busy life, why not look at it as a fun opportunity to find new favorite to build out a winter skincare routine? We’ve assembled some staffer favorites to make the process easy.

Winter skincare tips & tricks

What switches should I make in my winter skincare routine?

The main thing to remember is that because your skin tends to be more parched in winter, it’s also more fragile and prone to irritation. Here are some tips to keep your skin as hydrated as possible without any products.

  • Stay cool: Instead of hot water – which strips your skin of natural oils – choose warm water for showers and face washing.
  • No scrubs: Okay, you can keep exfoliating your face – but cut back from a few times a week to weekly, or less if your skin is sensitive or dry. Your skin's ability to handle exfoliation (whether chemical or physical) will also vary with your skin type and its ability to handle this forced turnover of skin cells.
  • Just add water: Layer on that lotion or cream right out of the bath while your skin is still damp.

What ingredients should I look for in winter skincare?

The best skincare for cold weather is all about hydration. Your lighter, humectant-laden lotion was fine during the warmer months (humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin extract water from the air), but winter skincare essentials are made for battling dryer conditions. For natural winter skincare, grab some of these essentials:

  • Emollients: Oils, creams, and lotions that add a barrier to your skin including argan oil, jojoba oil, and chia seed oil.
  • Occlusives: Thicker than emollients, shea butter and cocoa butter block the water in your skin from escaping. They’re also more likely to trigger outbreaks, so better for your hands, feet, and body.
  • Non-comedogenic: Specially formulated to not block your pores (aka, give you pimples).
  • SPF: Yes, still. You’re not immune to sun damage just because it’s cold. If you’re out in the snow or ice, the UV rays bouncing off those reflective surfaces can give you a bad sunburn.

Quick fixes for common winter skincare problems

From the top of your head to the bottom (of your feet), we asked our Grove team for their favorite winter skincare products that handle tackle common winter woes.

Issue: Itchy, dry scalp

If dandruff is the culprit, we like Tree to Tub’s Restoring Shampoo with refreshing aloe vera juice or Ursa Major’s Go Easy shampoo, which promises to both “go easy” on your scalp and to make your tresses softer and more manageable for you, too.

If dryness is an issue, other faves include Yes To's Naturals Tea Tree & Sage Calming Scalp Relief Shampoo and Tree To Tub's Argan Oil Conditioner for Dry Hair & Scalp with soothing lavender.

Issue: Dry, chapped lips

First ditch the dry skin, then get to hydrating!

We’re loving this gentle, mint-and-rosehip oil exfoliation with Rooted Lip Scrub, followed by Rooted Lip Balm with moisturizing chia seed oil and argan oil.

Henne Organics also makes a great lip mask to restore your lips' hydrated condition after a long winter outing. Or give Weleda’s Skin Food Lip Butter a try for a serious moisture boost.

Issue: Dry, rough skin

Team members are raving about Osea's Undaria Algae Body Oil with gently hydrating citrus and cypress oils.

For a heavier lotion (aka something more occlusive), Weleda's Body Butter locks in moisture with a citrusy scent thanks to Limonene while soothing skin with a mix of shea butter and cocoa seed oil. Or try out Acure's Seriously Soothing 24 Hour Moisture Lotion instead.

If your feet are the dry, cracked ones, try Little Moon Essentials Tea Tree Foot Lotion for some relief.

Issue: Dry patches on face or hands

Between the colder weather, the piped-in heat, and all that hand washing we’re doing, our skin has taken a beating. Team members rave about gently-scented, fast-absorbing Rooted Beauty Hydrating Hand Cream with shea butter and meadowfoam seed oil.

Another great choice for your face or hands is Weleda's Extra Rich Skin Food with almond oil – it goes on thick while being great for cuticles and hard-core skin repair. Slather it on your hands and feet, then let it sink in overnight for a mani/pedi jump start. Read more about how Skin Food works from one of our Grove writers who tried it.

Some other cult favorites that cure dry patches are Egyptian Magic or the All Good Goop salve.

The best winter skincare routine by skin type

It’s time to give your face a little extra attention. All skin types will be impacted similarly by chilly winter weather, in that they’ll be thirsty! Cold, dry air has a tendency to pull moisture from the skin, especially in areas where the temperature is significantly cooler between the seasons. The biggest key to keeping winter skin healthy is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate — both internally and externally!

How you treat each skin type topically will be the biggest difference.

Winter skincare routine for dry and mature skin

Incorporate an oil cleanse into your routine. Oil cleansing is a great way to break down the dirt, oil, and makeup on your face for a deep cleanse that also nourishes and protects your skin’s moisture barrier. At night, try steaming your face with a warm face cloth before wiping the oil away to help draw out any other impurities and prepare the skin to absorb the most nutrients.

Dry skin is most prone to fine lines and wrinkles, and the cold winter air can be unforgiving. When you feel you needs an extra boost to help plump your winter skin, try layering your moisturizer with a facial oil at night. This will help seal in all of the moisture you’ve treated your face to for maximum absorption while you sleep.

Cleanse: Superbloom Daily Dew Cleansing Oil

Exfoliate: Acure Radically Rejuvenating Facial Scrub (1x per week)

Treat: Cocokind Resurfacing Sleep Mask (1-3x per week)

Moisturize: Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream

Protect: All Good SPF 30 Anti-aging Mineral Facial Sunscreen

Winter skincare routine for combination skin

Consider an oil to milk cleanser. Much like oily skin, a foaming or gel cleanser might be too harsh for combination this time of year, but you still want to ensure a deep clean for both the oily and dry parts of your face. A cleanser like Cocokind’s Oil to Milk Cleanser will do just that! The emulsion that takes place as you cleanse helps pull any impurities from the skin, while also reinforcing the moisture balance in your skin’s protective layer.

Try swapping your moisturizer for a balancing facial oil to ensure optimal hydration. The Pank Plum Elixir from Loli will purify, calm, and hydrate the skin, creating optimal balance for those with a combination skin type.

Cleanse: Cocokind Oil to Milk Cleanser

Exfoliate: Loli Beauty Pank Pitaya Calming and Polishing Mask (1-2 times per week, or as needed)

Treat: Terra Beauty Bars Matcha Sea Dry Facial Clay Mask (1-2x per week)

Moisturize: Loli Beauty Pank Plum Elixir Calming Beauty Oil

Protect: Acure Radically Rejuvenating SPF 30 Day Cream

Winter skincare routine for oily and acne-prone skin

Switch out your foaming or gel cleanser for a milky or cream cleanser. Foaming formulas have a tendency to strip the skin of its moisture layer, and for oily skin types, this actually leads to the production of more oil. A creme cleanser is a great way to still remove the dirt and oil from the day, while maintaining a healthy moisture barrier.

Additionally, consider swapping out any scrubs or physical exfoliants for a chemical exfoliant. Since they’re less abrasive, they’re less likely to cause irritation and redness — while still ensuring a smooth, glowing texture. And yes, SPF is essential, even in the winter! Don’t forget to protect your skin, daily.

Cleanse: Ursa Major Making Moves Milky Cleanser

Exfoliate: Go-To Exfoliating Swipeys

Treat: Andalou Naturals Brightening Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask

Moisturize: Cocokind Texture Smoothing Creme

Protect: Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Gel-Lotion - SPF 30

Winter skin routine for your body

Winter skin can feel itchy and uncomfortable, and at times feels unsightly. Keeping the body hydrated will play a key role in keeping the rest of your skin happy and healthy this winter.

  1. Switch to a hydrating body wash.

  2. We love: Tree to Tub Hydrating Body Wash for Very Dry Skin and Rooted Beauty Nourishing Body Wash

  3. Exfoliate regularly.

  4. We love: Osea Undaria Body Polish and Beauty by Earth Exfoliating Loofah Pads

  5. Moisturize daily.

  6. We love: Osea Undaria Algae Body Oil

Grove Tip

What about winter skincare for my body?

While the skin on your face, neck, and chest needs gentler TLC, feel free to give the rest of your body an invigorating scrub in the winter months. One option is to keep a bar of coffee-and-cinnamon-infused Detox Exfoliating Body Soap in the shower or bath. Or try your hand at making your own DIY scrub and mask: Try a yummy homemade body scrub of almond oil and organic cane sugar with 1:1 ratio, or create a mix of oatmeal, unflavored yogurt, and honey to make a mask that really soothes dry skin.

Find more exfoliating products that Grove members love here.

Ingredients to love this winter

Hyaluronic Acid – Considered a holy grail of skin care ingredients, hyaluronic acid is like a tall glass of water for your skin. This helps draw moisture into the skin’s barrier to ensure it stays hydrated throughout the day, even on those frigid winter mornings.

Jojoba Oil – This carrier oil is among the best for moisturizing the skin as it is most similar to the natural sebum we produce. Jojoba oil has a golden hue keeps the skin glowing and absorbs well without a greasy finish. It’s great for all skin types!

Lactic Acid – The most moisturizing AHA acid, this ingredient helps reduce signs of again and uneven skin texture without being too harsh on the skin’s protective barrier. If used regularly, don’t forget your SPF.

Water – Drink up! When we’re not melting away in summer’s heat, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated internally. Ensure you’re drinking the recommended daily amount of water to keep body, mind, and skin happy.

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