Winter is my favorite time of year. Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love snow. But my skin would beg to differ. It asked me to write you this post. Because as fun as winter is, the cold and dry temps really do a number on skin – drying it out, making it sensitive and irritated. So yes, even coming from a self-declared skincare minimalist, winterizing your beauty routine is a MUST. So here goes – 7 products you probably DON’T use in the summer that I think are winter skincare must-haves.
ONE – Winter facial oil
Avurveda has three seasons – each corresponds to a particular dosha. Living in Southern California, this makes sense. We really only have three seasons – Summer, Spring and Fall/Winter. I’m guessing India is similar. Although, when I lived in New Mexico, I definitely felt the four seasons. Where ever you are, even if you don’t have four different facial oils for all four seasons, having a summer skincare routine vs. winter skincare routine is kind of non-negotiable.
A winter facial oil should be gentler, less astringent, more protective and more emollient. It should soothe and protect the skin first. It should also balance, nourish and purify.
Good winter oils are very anti-inflammatory – Andiroba is a great example of a beautifully effective anti-inflammatory oil. Good winter face oils are very healing – perhaps the most healing and restorative oil I’ve worked with is Tamanu – incredible – and very soothing to the soul as well. Finally, if you can find an oil that is supercharged to repair, winter is a time to recover from all the sun exposure of summer. Oils high in anti-oxidants and vitamins are actually very common, but ones I’m particularly fond of are Buriti (need to dilute with other oils – it is VERY orange), green coffee bean (more powerful anti-oxidant activity than CoQ10 AND all natural), and sacha inchi (LOADS of vitamin E).
You can also create a winter face oil by combining a light summer oil with a denser balm – use an anointing bowl to mix!
At the time of writing this, there is exactly ONE limited ed. winter facial oil (Comfort + Joy) in stock – you might be lucky enough to grab it! Oops, nevermind, Comfort + Joy is sold out.
TWO – Face balm
I use a face balm almost year round except for in the stickiest, hottest days of summer. It is more protective than a face oil, and there are some amazing butters out there that have just as impressive characteristics and compounds as the rarest and most expensive oils.
There are many reasons butters might be a better fit for your skin in the winter than an oil. Butters have a chemical makeup that is more protective and more supportive of the skin’s barrier function. This means they help the skin stay more hydrated longer – not because they are more greasy (they are not – in fact, many of the butters I use are LESS greasy than oils) but because they help the skin retain water longer and better.
Butters can also be more soothing and healing than face oils – they have some seriously outstanding anti-inflammatory and healing compounds. Many of the butters I use are dark brown – almost black in color – because they are brimming with phytosterols, vitamins, fatty acids and other wondrous compounds – how many oils do you know that are so dark as to appear black? In oils and butters, color density is a sign of nutritional abundance.
My favorite face balm from moss is Salvation – the name is no exageration.
Three – Hydrating masque
In general, masques are quite drying. Why? Because they are like washing your face – but more intensely. Usually, to get a clay masque to rinse completely off you splash warm water on your face A LOT. And that dries your skin! Not to mention all the water the clay already extracted! But there are some masques can actually be very helpful in the winter – hydrating masques.
It can be really easy to make your own – a simple mixture of honey, oil and aloe vera gel is wonderful. I personally love to combine Beurre Céleste and Healing Dew. I will leave this masque on for a long time! I apply it and just go about my day. When I finally rinse it, I just use a warm washcloth to wipe my face gently and thoroughly ONCE, and then let any remaining goodness be absorbed by my skin.
Another good hydrating masque idea is to make a facial tea and mix it with milk powder or oat powder or both. Cleansing Flours is beautiful as a hydrating mask mixed with a little bit of facial tea.
Most importantly, remember – leave these masques on for longer – at least 15-20 minutes, and more if you can, and rinse them quickly with a washcloth, minimizing exposing your skin to lots of warm water.
Four – Hydrating serum
For most of the year, I will be serum-free and/or I will apply my serums/essences AFTER my face oil, but in the winter to really help you hydrate your skin, apply serums BEFORE facial oil. (You can also apply after, like a serum sandwich, if you still need help with your oil absorbing into the skin)
The reason for the serum is that oils and butters alone are not the complete equation. To be fully and beautifully hydrated, our skin needs healthy and balanced oil AND water levels. That’s why oily skin can sometimes feel dry and unelastic even while it’s annoying the crap out of you with tons of shine.
Oils and butters are great for helping to keep water from escaping out of your skin, and they are great for helping balance and support your skin’s own oils, but they cannot add water to dehydrated skin.
Serums are a great way to help your skin get the water it needs. Just beware of the ingredient hyaluronic acid – it is incredibly powerful and water-hungry, and serums containing it can actually draw water FROM your skin, creating dry, red patches. A much safer (and I personally believe) more effective (but also less glamorous) ingredient is glycerin. It is also a humectant (water attractant) and gets the job done, while also conditioning the skin, and helping to prevent future water loss and repair the skin’s ability to retain water.
A really easy DIY hydrating essence is 2-10% glycerin in a hydrosol, like rose water. From moss, Healing Dew is a perfect hydrating serum – and very soothing as well to chapped skin.
Five – Lip treatment
Another item I rarely use EXCEPT for in the winter. I’m in the process of making a beautiful lip treatment for moss (seriously, so stoked and proud about this lip magic – I’ve been reapplying non-stop!), but until then, here’s what to do:
Mix sugar with oil and rub over your lips gently, exfoliating them (skip this step if your lips are cracked or bleeding). Wipe the sugar and oil off. Do this at most one a week, so as not to over-aggravate your lips.
Use a lip balm that has lots of beeswax and some oil. I personally believe waxier is better than oily. Oily tends to rub right off and not be protective enough. Beeswax is the absolute best thing for helping your body (and lips) retain moisture.
The best balm/treatment is one that goes super easy on the essential oils and/or is totally unflavored. Oils like peppermint, especially if applied to your lips multiple times a day, can be very irritating. Think about it: you wouldn’t put peppermint oil all over your face (even diluted) several times a day, so why subject your delicate lips to this? Honey is a great flavorant for lip balms – it tastes great AND it is healing and moisturizing.
Also, look for ingredients like aloe vera or calendula or other healing herbs. Lipcare can be just as luxe and effective as skincare, so don’t be afraid to ask for more – you will absolutely notice the difference in a high quality balm/treatment.
Six – body cream
I love a good body cream. Despite my insistance on keeping facial skincare separated into strictly lypidic and hydric products, and keeping emulsifiers and preservatives to an absolute minimum, a notable exception for me is a (properly made) body cream/butter (but then again, its for the body, not the face).
I make my own, but I sourced a yummy looking one for you guys from 100% Pure.
If you want to stay pure then a body balm or thicker oil (olive is great!) will also do the trick – the key is to apply it right after you get out of the shower, when skin is still damp, to lock all that moisture in. And bonus if the balm includes beeswax or another natural wax, because while in the summer you want to let sweat flow, in the winter, an occlusive quality becomes a GOOD thing, because it keeps the skin protected and moisturized. Skincare needs are just as extreme as clothing changes – we go from bikinis to parkas. And the skin goes from needing a light, sun-protective body oil to needing a thick balm, salve, butter or cream.
Seven – eye balm
Another item I totally ditch for most of the year, but I absolutely need in the winter. The delicate skin around your eyes is especially susceptible to the cold, dry winter air, plus the holidays can take a toll that shows up as puffy, dark eyes.
Another product that is in the works for moss, but in the meantime, a great DIY is to use organic castor bean oil – I learned this secret from the Ayurvedic Beauty Expert Pratima Raichur.
There are many other things that change for me in the winter – I take more baths, so I would add epsom salt and essential oils to the list. Also, an ultra healing but portable hand salve that I can take with me everywhere – I already carry Salvation with me everywhere – it works excellently on the hands in a pinch, but is so precious that I hate to waste it like that. Finally, a hair mask or oil treatment. Here are some good DIY ones to try and on the other end of the spectrum Rahua has a hair mask. I plan on making a hair oil as a order gift at some point during the holidays as well! Add a few drops of essential oils for extra zazz! I just did say zazz.
Happy impending Holidays!