If you’re looking to change up your skincare routine for these winter months and have combination skin like I do, this post is for you. My esthetician Allison, owner of No Filter Beauty in Redondo Beach, California, shares her professional tips to transition your skincare routine so that you can maintain your healthy skin, even in cold weather.
While there are obviously different skin types out there, this post is specifically for combination skin. However, regardless of your skin type, the winter can really take a toll on your complexion, even if you don’t normally have sensitive skin.
During this time of year, your skin barrier is getting hit with a lot of variables, including wind, cold weather, and air from heating systems. The outcome? Lots of dryness and irritation, and even breakouts.
But don’t freak out if your skin is freaking out. You’re not alone, and you don’t have to completely toss your existing skincare products. When transitioning to a winter skincare routine, you really don’t need a major overhaul.
Instead of switching your moisturizer to a heavy cream, focus instead on choosing to a gentle cleanser that won’t strip your skin, then add in layers of hydration with serums and face oils.
Follow these simple tips from Allison to update your winter skincare routine for combination skin.
Wintertime Skincare Routine for Combo Skin
Use a Gentle Cleanser
When it comes to the first step in your winter skincare routine, the key is to use a gentle cleanser. “Stop using exfoliating cleansers, as these can dry you out more than normal in the winter,” says Allison.
For combination skin, you want a cleanser that will cut through the sebum in your oily sections, without drying out other parts on your face.
If you’re feeling on the drier side this winter, Allison advises double cleansing. “Double cleansing is always a great idea.” First, wash your face with an oil cleanser, then your regular cleanser. Not only does this provide a more professional level of clean, but oil cleansers also help to hydrate your skin with added their nutrients. My personal and long-time favorite is Dermalogica PreCleanse cleansing oil.
Gentle cleansers to try:
Even though you want to skip exfoliating cleansers in the winter, you shouldn’t neglect exfoliating completely. Skin tends to look dull in the winter thanks to dead skin cells accumulated amidst dry winter air. This accumulation of dead skin cells can also lead to congestion, and therefore breakouts. Exfoliation removes these dead skin cells, to help brighten your complexion and reduce future breakouts.
But just like cleansers, not all are created equal, and not all of them work for winter. Instead of a physical exfoliant with beads or granules, “use a chemical exfoliant that has an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) like Lactic Acid for its hydrating properties, or a gentle enzyme exfoliant,” says Allison.
You also want to make sure you’re not over exfoliating, especially during a season where you skin barrier is already disrupted. A good rule of thumb here is to exfoliate 1-2 times per week.
Exfoliants with AHA to try:
- Summer Fridays Soft Reset Exfoliating Solution
- Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel Pads
- Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment
- Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel
Skip the Retinol
“I wouldn’t begin a Retinol in the winter,” Allison advises. “Your barrier is probably already impaired due to the colder temperatures.”
“If you’ve already been using a Retinol, you can keep it up, but I would suggest using it one day on, then two days off to avoid over irritation.”
Add a hydrating face mask to your routine
To give your skin an extra burst of nutrients, apply a face mask once a week.
Face masks directly target specific areas of concerns, so in the winter, look for a hydrating one to add and retain additional moisture. I’m a big fan of traditional masks and sheet masks.
My favorite hydrating face masks:
- Joanna Vargas Euphoria Sheet Masks
- Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask
- Kiehl’s Ulta Facial Overnight Rehydrating Mask
- Comfort Zone Hydramemory Mask
Apply a Serum or Facial Oil
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily have switch out your current moisturizer to a heavier one in the winter, even if you have combination skin.
Keep the moisturizer you have, and layer in hydrating serums and facial oils to your wintertime routine. By doing so, this will add hydration to your skin without weighing it down with a thick cream.
Allison’s favorite hydrating ingredient? “Hyaluronic acid, always.” As a humectant, hyaluronic acid (HA) both attracts and retains moisture. In fact, it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, providing major hydration and the appearance or plumper, more youthful skin.
Before applying hyaluronic acid, Allison suggests spritzing a hydrating mist over your face (like this spray toner from Dermalogica), which will allow the HA to bind to that moisture and provide even better hydration.
Facial oil is also another way to add in an extra layer of hydration to your winter skincare routine but be sure to stay away from anything with coconut oil to avoid clogging pores, warns Allison.
Hyaluronic acids to try:
- The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum
- SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel
- Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum
My favorite face oils:
Don’t forget your moisturizer
Once you’ve layered in your serums and/or facial oils, it’s time to lock in all that hydration with your moisturizer.
Like I mentioned above, you can use your current moisturizer for this. Unlike dry skin types that need thick creams in the winter, your combination skin will likely get all the hydration it needs with the addition of a serum or oil.
More Winter Skincare Routine Tips
Avoid long, hot showers
Although you may want to turn the temperature up on your faucet in the winter, try to avoid hot showers because hot water can strip away moisture from your skin.
Don’t Forget Your SPF
UV rays are present year-round, even when it’s cloudy out. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen as the last step in your skincare routine, right before you apply makeup. My SPF of choice is Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen because it also works as a primer.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so help keep it hydrated from the inside and don’t skimp on drinking water, even if you don’t seem as thirsty as summer months.
Add a humidifier in Your Bedroom
Dry heat from central heating and radiators isn’t ideal, but if you want to stay warm inside without a bunch of blankets, there’s not much you can do about it. However, using a humidifier in your bedroom at night can add moisture back into the air. I promise you’ll feel the difference not only in your skin but in your sinuses.
Use facial steamer
I’m a big fan of using this facial steamer in my skincare routine. There are a handful of benefits to facial steaming, including unclogging pores your pores hydrating your skin. But like most things, everything in moderation. “If you’re going to use a facial steamer, use it only 1-2 times per week,” says Allison. “The steam and the heat from it can also dry you out if you use it too often.”
Read the full review of my facial steamer here.