David Cohen/Unsplash
Lindsay Burgess
December 22, 2016 9:40 am

Now that the seasons have gone and truly changed, it’s time to check in on your beauty routine. Your winter skincare regimen needs to counter the icy blasts of cold – and the drying effects of indoor heating – you might be dealing with from now till springtime. Some of the steps you can take are simple: Don’t forget to moisturize after a shower, for example. You can even upgrade your beauty cabinet with these essentials for a winter skincare routine. But the reality is, there’s no one secret beauty ingredient to keep your skin healthy through the winter months. The best course of action? Make a few simple, science-approved swaps…

Trade spa-quality balms for a fragrance-free cleanser

If you’re going to use fragrance anywhere in your skincare routine, it actually should be at the cleanser stage. Why? Because, in theory, at least, you’ll wash away any potentially harmful ingredients. Staunch fragrance-free advocates, like the research team at Paula’s Choice, suggest that you should never use scented products, because you risk skin damage and sensitization. That said, not every fragrant ingredient is 100% bad. Science-backed skincare blogger Beauty with Brains points out that limonene, found in natural products like citrus oils, can help your skin absorb other good ingredients – even though it may also irritate your skin.

A nice-smelling cleanser makes a great aromatherapy treat on a stressful day, but to keep your skin in top shape, simple is best. It’s all going down the drain anyway, so you might as well save your pennies.

Step up the sunscreen

A drop in temperatures is no excuse to start slacking on SPF. (Especially since we know that skin cancer rates have doubled since 1982.) Make one of your new year’s resolutions to really commit to better sun care. Since we busted the myth that all SPFs are created equal, you know you’re looking for the highest number you can find. Natural sunscreens are great if you can find them. That said, the industry has some serious work to do in terms of making natural sunscreens wearable for every skin tone. No matter what kind of formula you prefer, a good SPF is essential to your winter skincare routine.

Switch out multitasking miracle products for layers

We love a good all-in-one as much as the next gal. Saving money? Yes. Saving time in your routine? Double yes! But when the seasons change, layers are as essential to your winter skincare as they are in your winter wardrobe. The first thing you need to do is take stock of your various serums, moisturizers and oils and figure out what categories they fall under. Are they humectants, emollients or occlusive agents? Make sure you’re putting them on in the right order – especially if any of your products contain silicones. (If you’ve ever had a moisturizer roll or “pill” off your face, silicones were probably the culprit.)

Choose the right oils

Whether it’s coconut or argan, most of us have a favorite cure-all oil. But oils aren’t all created equal. It turns out that essential oils – those super-relaxing scents like lavender, citrus and eucalyptus – might not be the best for your face. There’s been plenty of research into the cytotoxicity (translation: ability to destroy cells) of essential oils, and the results aren’t exactly warm and fuzzy. But since these studies aren’t always about skincare, you need to be super careful with what you read and trust.

If you do use lavender-infused products, take blogger FutureDerm’s advice and layer on the sunscreen – the essential oil makes your skin more sensitive to the sun. And when you pick a treatment oil, opt for something nourishing like rosehip oil. While coconut oil is awesome for a lot of things, it can really clog your pores – so use it sparingly, if at all.

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