Eczema and Dermatitis

9 Tips for Dealing with Sensitive Winter Skin

+ Pamela Friedman

Winter SkinThere’s no doubt that harsh, winter weather takes a toll on skin. When temperatures and humidity levels plummet, the air naturally sucks the moisture out, leaving skin extra dry, flaky, and sore. Without treatment, small cracks develop in the skin’s surface, allowing even more moisture to escape and creating a vicious cycle of dryness.

To add to the problem, all those frigid temperatures make us crave the heat, so we take longer hot showers and baths, which deprive the skin of its natural hydrating oils. Indoor heaters steal moisture from the air, further drying skin, and if we’re using any harsh products, we’re making it worse.

Winter also tends to exacerbate existing skin conditions, so if you already have rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, you may be suffering more symptoms when the snow starts to blow.

The result of all these factors? Skin looks dry, dull, and lifeless, and may also develop flaking, scabbing, calluses, rashes, redness, and definitely more visible wrinkles and fine lines. Skin also feels more sensitive, and tends to itch, sting, and generally feel uncomfortable.

Many areas of the country are experiencing temperatures far below normal this winter. To help you battle the elements and emerge looking glowing and radiant, follow these nine tips!

Nine Tips to Keep Skin Looking Vibrant

You probably already know the basics. Avoid hot water and use lukewarm, instead. Ditch the harsh and drying soaps and use fragrance-free cleansers that moisturize while cleaning. Apply lotions and creams more often, and protect your skin whenever you go out with scarves, hats, and gloves.

There are some other tips that you may not have been aware of, however. Try these and let us know if you notice a difference!

  1. Exfoliate. You may forget to do this in winter. Particularly if your skin is feeling dry and sensitive, you may not want to scrub it. It’s important, however, to get rid of those dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. In fact, for many people, it becomes even more necessary in the winter, as skin dries and sloughs off more surface cells. If you don’t, your moisturizers won’t penetrate, which will make the problem worse. The key is to choose a gentle exfoliator. For now, use gentler exfoliants. These may include enzymes like pumpkin peel, papaya, and other fruit enzymes that naturally encourage softer, smoother skin. Gentle glycolic-acid-based peels also do the trick with little risk of irritation. Just make sure to read labels and listen to your skin-in the winter we are so dry we can over-exfoliate. Once or twice a week is usually sufficient. Always remember that after you exfoliate, you must follow with a calming moisturizer to avoid dehydration. Right after exfoliating is also when your moisturizer will best penetrate, since you’ve gotten rid of all those dead surface skin cells. Try CV Skinlabs Calming Moisture for lasting hydration.
  2. Use a hydrating mask. You may have gotten by on moisturizer for the rest of the year, but in the winter, skin often needs more. You can make your own moisturizing mask with ingredients like mashed bananas, avocados, sweet almond oil, yogurt, aloe, egg yolks, olive oil, and cucumber. Mix together into a paste and leave on the skin for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off. You can also try John Masters Calendula Hydrating and Toning Mask or Juice Beauty Organic Facial Rejuvenating Mask. CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm is great on the eyes and lips overnight, as well as on the hands. Wear gloves for deeper moisturization.
  3. Change your cleanser. Typical cleansers contain harsh and drying ingredients like sulfates, alcohols, and preservatives. Make sure you sue something more gentle and hydrating in the winter. I have sensitive/combination skin, and the cleanser I love in the winter is the Moisture Rich Cleansing Lotion by Suki. Choose hand cleansers that are gentle and fragrance-free. Make sure right after you cleanse, you use a hydrating toner within 10-20 seconds to avoid moisture loss.
  4. Change-up your routine. It’s normal to have more sensitive skin in the winter, which means your products and routine probably need to change. Choose a richer, more moisturizing lotion to protect skin. You may also want to switch from a powdered foundation to a liquid or cream. Same with your blushes and eye shadows. Go by what your skin is telling you. If it’s still dry, adjust your products.
  5. Read labels. This goes without saying! Always stay away from harsh, potentially harmful chemicals. A lot of them are very dehydrating. Avoid those ingredients listed in my Ingredients to Avoid list, and choose instead natural ingredients like shea butter, jojoba oil, calendula, and similar options that tend to more deeply nourish skin.
  6. Ditch the itch. Itching skin usually responds to gentle exfoliating and moisturizing, but if yours is particularly stubborn, look for these anti-itch ingredients: lavender, chamomile, cucumber, water lily extract, oat extract, and calendula. Don’t forget that many doctors and customers have raved about CV Skinlabs products and how well they treat the itching of eczema, and other skin concerns.
  7. Keep your eye out for preservatives. These can be especially irritating to sensitive skin. Choose products that pay attention to preservatives. Avoid things like parabens and other harsh options. Research the company to see what they use.
  8. Protect. You’ve heard the sunscreen lecture, but remember that UV rays are the number-one aging factor for skin. Continue to protect even when you don’t see the sun, as potent UVA rays still penetrate to damage and accelerate aging. Stay away from chemical options, however, as these can accelerate sun damage and may irritate sensitive skin. Choose zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, or refer to the Environmental Working Group’s list of safe sunscreens.
  9. Use a humidifier. The best way to combat dry air is to put moisture back into it! Particularly if you live in a dry climate, a humidifier will help prevent moisture loss in your skin. Regardless of where you live, though, you’ll most likely need a humidifier in your room at night so you can wake up to hydrated, happy skin.

Do you suffer sensitive winter skin? Please share your tips.

Picture courtesy posterize via

Margit Easter Mulder, “Skin treatment during winter,” Telegraph, November 12, 2010,

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