We’ve been through this before, but the sudden onset of winter skin woes never loses its shock value. One minute we’re happily sipping a chilled glass of Riesling in August with our skin on its best behaviour, and the next we’re panic-ordering parkas from Zara and examining our complexions one inch from our mirror. Dryness, flaking, chapping, redness, breakouts… What worrisome skin symptom doesn’t haunt us the second winter arrives?
The good news is that we’re all in this together, and we’ve rounded up a couple of the best dermatologists in the business (one East Coast–based and one West Coast!) to help sort, explain, and solve our winter skin issues. Ahead, Jennifer Herrmann, MD, FAAD, of Moy Fincher Chips Facial Plastics & Dermatology in Beverly Hills, and Joshua Zeichner, MD, FAAD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, explain six common things that might just happen to your face this winter—and how to solve them. Keep scrolling!
Problem #1: Dryness
“Cold, dry winter weather takes a toll on our outer skin layer,” explains Zeichner. “Unfortunately, the skin may not be able to naturally compensate for extreme cold, and microscopic cracks in the skin barrier may develop, which can lead to the loss of hydration and inflammation.” Additionally, Zeichner tells us things we do to compensate (like long, hot showers) can exacerbate the problem by stripping the skin of the essential oils that normally maintain our healthy skin..
Problem #2: Dullness
According to Zeichner, when the skin becomes dry and irritated, dead cells may accumulate on the surface of the skin, leading to a duller complexion than we’re used to. As he explains, if light cannot adequately reflect off the surface of the skin, it will look far less radiant.
Problem #3: Chapped Lips
“Chronic lip-licking combined with cold weather and wind can strain the skin on the lips, leading to dryness, cracking, and irritation,” Zeichner tells us.
Problem #3: Brown Spots
As Herrmann tells us, brown spots that become more noticeable is another common winter skin symptom that can be both confusing and frustrating. “Most people have slightly darker skin during warmer months because of increased sun exposure,” she explains. “Then as we move back into colder weather, this baseline color fades, which can expose brown spots making them more obvious.”
Problem #5: Acne
“The holiday season often means indulging in more sugar and alcohol, which in addition to causing dull skin and puffy eyes can also lead to breakouts by stimulating hormones to induce more oil production,” warns Herrmann.
Problem #6: Redness
“Because of dryness, many people suffer from periods of skin redness during the winter,” Herrmann shares. “Because dry skin often looks more wrinkled and dull, many overcompensate by using products that contain alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids to help brighten the skin, but usually they just end up making redness and irritation worse.”