Dry winter skin seems as inevitable as catching a seasonal cold. But it doesn't have to be that way! Keeping the skin on your face soft and vibrant through the chilly months starts with how you wash it. A few tweaks to your cleansing routine can make all the difference, says Francesca Fusco, MD, of Wexler Dermatology in New York City. Here, she points out the mistakes we're all making at the sink, and more importantly, how to fix them.
You're using the wrong cleanser
Come cold weather, you need a hydrating formula, says Dr. Fusco. Hydrating cleansers are gentle, and don't disrupt the skin barrier, helping to keep it moisturized. We like Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser ($18; glossier.com). The name describes its exact texture. And it has a subtle rose scent that helps calm both your skin and your racing mind. Use it on a dry or damp face, and splash warm water to rinse for seriously smooth skin that feels squeaky clean.
You're washing your whole face
If you have typical combination skin–with some greasy spots and others dry as a desert–a one-size-fits-all regimen is not for you. In the morning when you don't have much grime to get rid of, try using a cleansing wipe only on your T-zone, suggests Dr. Fusco. That way you can avoid stripping your drier spots of the little oil they do have. Yes To Cucumber Soothing Facial Towelettes ($5; drugstore.com) smell yummy, and will leave you feeling refreshed, not sticky. In the evening, use a sensitive skin cleanser all over and follow with a wipe that has witch hazel (a gentle de-greaser) on the oily T-zone.
You're exfoliating chapped skin
On windy, wintry days when your skin feels raw, avoid particulate scrubs (think sugar scrubs) and cleansers that contain salicylic acid (for breakouts) or alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid (a common ingredient in chemical peels). These could end up irritating your skin even more, Dr. Fusco warns. Instead consider a oil facial cleanser, which can help heal raw skin. Try bareMinerals Oil Obsessed Total Cleansing Oil ($30; bareescentuals.com). It starts as oil, but with a little water transforms into a nourishing, hydrating cream.
You've never tried micellar water
These no-rinse cleansers contain tiny oil particles that draw gunk out of your pores and dissolve it–no H2O necessary. They're a great option in the morning or after the gym, says Dr.Fusco. Garnier's Micellar Bi-Phase Water ($7; target.com) gently melts away makeup (even waterproof mascara) without drying effects. But if you're wearing a full face of makeup, or several layers of SPF lotion, a traditional facial cleanser is your best bet.
You're washing twice a day
Chances are, you're over-cleansing. If you washed at bedtime, a simple splash of water in the a.m. is adequate, Dr. Fusco says. After all, whatever products you applied at bedtime are still doing their thing and provide an extra boost when you layer your morning products on top. But if you don't want to quit your morning cleanse, try a few swipes of a cotton pad dampened with micellar water, or use a non-sudsy milk cleanser. Korres' Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cleanser ($26; sephora.com) is soothing with antibacterial ingredients like amaranth seed extra and honeysuckle. And remember, when you do cleanse, be sure to use warm water, not hot, which can be irritating to sensitive and rosacea-prone skin, adds Dr. Fusco.