Vegan Winter Skincare and 7 Dry Skin Mistakes to Avoid
Ah, winter. It is indeed a wonderland, isn’t it? The frozen toes and noses, the colds, the holiday gift-buying scramble. The best of times, right?
For skin, it can also be a difficult time. Winter skincare is often a game of catch-up. We rush to address a host of sudden woes even when we're not sure about what caused them in the first place!
But it's important to take stock. Are you bringing winter skincare essentials into your beauty routine? And are you aware of the most common skincare mistakes to avoid?
You don’t have to live in the arctic circle for your skin to be affected by winter weather. Even tropical climates will experience changes in temperature across the seasons. So listen up, wherever you are!
Essential winter skincare—what should you be doing for your skin?
For most people, winter skincare issues originate in the extremes: going from blustery, freezing outdoor temperatures to dry, artificially heated indoor environments. This situation is surprisingly common even in milder weather regions like the West Coast and Southwest. Although you may not find yourself knee deep in snow drift in San Francisco, your skin may be behaving as if that’s the case.
Here are seven dos and don'ts of winter skincare.
If there’s a golden rule for winter skincare, it’s hydrate (and here are some other helpful tricks for skincare beginners). This goes for topically as well as internally. That drying indoor air mixed with the also dry, cold outdoor air is like a vacuum, sucking away your precious skin elasticity and suppleness.
Dry skin doesn’t just crack and feel reptilian, but it can cause a host of problems, like overproducing oil to combat the dryness, which—you guessed it—can lead to breakouts. Fun times! Dry skin can present as splotchy, red, and irritated, and it can leave you confused about how to address these issues.
It’s also easy to forget to drink enough water in the winter, which can lead to dry skin. If you’re not working up a sweat during the winter months, you may forget to hydrate properly (PSLs aren’t quite the same as fresh, purified water). This can easily contribute to your winter skin woes.
For skin, be sure to use hydrating cleansers and moisturizers to help mitigate dryness. Use a moisturizer when skin is still damp after cleansing to help lock in that moisture.
To help your body stay hydrated, set alarms. Really! Setting an alarm a few times a day is an easy way to remember to drink. Another tip is to drink a full, eight-ounce glass of water before mealtime. If you drink upon waking and then before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ll be sure to keep yourself hydrated.
Also opt for healthier beverages than the bevy of caloric, sugary winter beverages (we’re looking at you, pumpkin spice lattes!). Unsweetened green tea is much healthier for the skin and helps contribute to your daily hydration goals.
Check out these extra-hydrating vegan moisturizers for winter skin.
Earth Harbor’s Mermaid Milk: a Kinder Beauty favorite, this moisturizer is filled with superfoods, phytonutriends, and vegan hyaluronic acid to help your skin retain moisture.
Tata Harper’s Water Lock Moisturizer: hailed as the ultimate hydration booster, this silicone-free moisturizer primes and smooths to help prevent and reverse dry skin.
African Botanics Intensive Recovery Cream: ideal for sensitive skin, this rich, oil-based recovery cream combats the signs of dryness and aging. Ingredients also help to stimulate cell renewal and improve elasticity.
2. Exfoliate gently
If there’s a good side to winter skincare, it’s that mildly dry skin can be sloughed off rather effortlessly with a decent scrub. But there are some best practices to follow for winter exfoliation.
Exfoliating does more than just cleanse—it helps to remove dead skin cells. For dry skin, this can decrease the risk of peeling. It can also help to unclog pores and reduce the buildup of oils that can lead to breakouts. If you’ve got combination skin that can be easily irritated by winter weather, exfoliating is a must.
Opt for a scrub that contains oils in the base versus an acidic peel that can lead to over-drying. These can be oil-based clean ingredient cleansers with added exfoliants like ground walnut husks. You can also make your own by using a neutral, nourishing oil like jojoba, argan, or rosehip seed oil and mixing with a gentle exfoliant like sugar or coffee grounds.
And, of course, don’t over-exfoliate. Do this once a week, or once every other week for extra sensitive winter skin. Always follow with a hydrating serum and moisturizer.
Check out these gentle exfoliators for winter skin.
Rose Quartz Face Polish: a natural exfoliant rich in rosehip seed oil, this polish helps to clear pores, remove dry skin, and promote cell renewal. As a plus, it's perfect for all skin types.
Caudalie VinoClean Deep Cleansing Exfoliator: cleansing and hydrating, this exfoliator boosts skin health with exfoliating plant-based “beads” and moisturizes with grape water for a gentle scrub and a lasting glow.
3. Avoid harsh chemicals
All skincare is not created equal. The stuff that contains hard-to-pronounce synthetic chemicals may not be the best for your skin. (Don’t confuse the hard-to-pronounce synthetics with hard-to-pronounce Latin names of botanicals, though! Those are often good for you!)
Some synthetics can be drying to the skin, as can alcohol-based products. Skincare products that are heavy on synthetics also have a greater likelihood of being tested on animals. If the thought of your skincare being connected to animal testing stresses you out (which is bad for your skin), all the more reason to opt for cruelty-free skincare.
This time of year especially, less is more. This means fewer ingredients are more likely to be beneficial to the skin and less damaging.
4. Wear SPF
Never mind the fact that the sun dips out of sight by 4pm these days, leaving us cold and confused; it’s still out there doing its dirty work on your skin. And the only protection against those UVA and UVB rays is a good SPF.
It’s easy to think you’re protected from the sun during the winter because you’re all bundled up in hats and scarves. Most likely, you’re spending fewer hours outdoors, too.
But with already-stressed winter skin from that cold weather outside and dry weather inside, the sun is not doing your skin any favors. Quite the opposite: dry, raw, and under-hydrated skin is more vulnerable to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet light.
Of course, sunscreen is complicated, right? Many can be harsh and drying. That’s not good in the summer and it’s definitely not going to work in the winter, either. So be sure to opt for a light formula that’s hydrating as well as offering at least SPF 25 coverage.
Check out these vegan SPFs for winter skin.
Josie Maran Tinted Argan SPF: the Queen of argan oil, Josie Maran delivers a hydrating, chemical-free SPF 47 to provide powerful broad-spectrum protection. This lightly-tinted formula also helps balance out skin.
Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint SPF: boosted with moisture-locking squalene, Milk’s vegan SPF30 works like a foundation with all the hydration of a moisturizer and the color support of a foundation.
5. Remember your lips!
You can exfoliate your lips with a bit of sugar and oil to get rid of all that dry skin. (Don’t pick or bite at them, though!)
Dry lips are also a sign you’re not hydrated enough internally—another reason to set those alarms and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Another way to get your daily dose of water is to eat plenty of hydrating fruits and vegetables.
Another winter lip tip: it’s understandable to want to eat all the hot things to keep you warm, but foods that are too hot can dry out and even burn your lips. Use caution and a bit of common sense with soups and curries and other hot foods. Let them cool a bit before consuming.
And using a lip balm can help, too. There are a number of effective and fun colored balms these days that do the trick.
6. Use a humidifier
A poorly insulated house can mean cold air is coming in and you’re likely turning up the heat to compensate. This is a recipe for dry, troubled skin. Using a humidifier can help mitigate the dryness, which may help keep your skin hydrated, too.
Both warm and cool mist humidifiers will do the trick. These can be an affordable and effective way to ward off dry winter skin. And they come with another bonus feature: humidifiers can help with allergies and sinus issues and prevent dryness around the nose and eyes.
Check out the Pure Enrichment ultrasonic cool mist humidifier. It’s got all the bells and whistles with an adjustable 360-degree nozzle. It holds enough water to run for 25 hours straight!
7. Get a facial
Even the best skin needs a little TLC—and if you’ve skimped on facials these last couple Covid winters, it may be time to take your skincare woes to the professionals.
A specialist will be able to help assess the damage to your skin, clear out those pesky clogged pores, and give you a hydration boost.
And let’s not forget, pampered skin is happy skin! An hour in the chair relaxing may just be the thing your skin needs to de-stress and get back to glowing.
But just like all skincare is not created equal, neither are all facials.
Look for an esthetician who specializes in all-natural skincare treatments. Call ahead and ask questions until you find one that’s going to give your skin what you need! Look for experts who are willing to answer your questions—that’s always a good sign.
And be sure to ask about ingredients. Are the products they use vegan and clean?
We’re wishing you the best of luck with your winter skincare routine. Stay warm and hydrated out there!
Please note: A product appearing in our blog is not an official Kinder Beauty endorsement. While every product we feature in an article is cruelty-free and vegan, these products do not necessarily meet all of our strict brand standards for curation in one of our boxes.
Jill Ettinger is an LA-based journalist and the co-founder of sustainable luxury platform, Ethos.
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