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Best cheap skincare essentials for winter

Which cheap skincare essentials for winter are best?

As the humidity plummets in the winter, incidences of scaly, dry skin skyrocket. Blasting your heater keeps you warm and toasty, but it leaves the indoor air sapped of its moisture. 

Outside is equally dry and unfriendly to the skin. In the wintertime, lips get chapped and rough patches of skin emerge — even for those who have diligent skincare routines.

During colder months, your skin needs a little extra love to stay radiant and soft, which is why it’s critical to add some winter-specific products to your skincare regimen.

Keep your skin hydrated, protected, and healthy throughout the winter months with these essentials.

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream: A long-lasting facial moisturizer

Your lightweight summer moisturizer might not cut it for the dry winter months ahead. Put aside the featherlight formula and opt for a thicker face cream to lock in moisture. Do you have oily skin and worry about putting heavy creams on your face? Choose a formula specially made for oily complexions, but don’t be afraid to moisturize. 

ELEMIS Superfood Facial Oil: Antioxidant-rich face oil 

When skin is dry, oil production goes into overdrive, creating an undesired oily effect. Oil-based serums are a suitable alternative to heavy face creams. They’re quickly absorbed by the skin and don’t tend to leave behind a greasy residue.

Dermalogica Sound Sleep Cocoon: Hydrating night cream 

If you’re dealing with extra-dry skin on your face, consider applying an ultra-thick night cream product to rehydrate your parched skin. An overnight application of a rich, creamy lotion slowly permeates and leaves skin much happier upon waking. Some night creams also contain anti-aging ingredients if that’s a concern you’re interested in addressing.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen: Powerful sun protection

Unprotected sun exposure dries out the skin, and there’s no reason to skip this essential skincare step in the dead of winter. If you’re having issues with dry skin, choose a moisturizer with sun protection — CeraVe’s Face Moisturizer with SPF 30 is an excellent pick.

Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25: Protective lip balm

The skin on your lips is thin and incredibly sensitive. In dry conditions, they’re prone to cracking and chapping. Apply moisturizing balm if you notice you’re licking your lips a little too frequently, and opt for a product with SPF protection if you spend any time outdoors in the daytime.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream: Moisturizing hand lotion 

For many, the hands are the first spot on the body to dry out. Skipping a hand moisturizer may lead to itchy, cracked skin. Choose a rich, creamy formula to keep your hands protected anytime you head outside in the winter. Exposure to the cold will only exacerbate dryness.

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream: Soothing body lotion

We don’t all have the luxury to take long, moisturizing soaks in the tub, which is why it’s vital to moisturize your whole body after a shower. Hot water is tough on the skin, stripping it of oils and leaving it dry. In the winter, opt for a moisturizer with a thicker formula — creams are usually thicker than lotions and are sold in tubes or tubs. Moisturize right after you shower or bathe.

CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash: Gentle face wash 

Do away with exfoliating scrubs and products with drying ingredients; these strip away moisture and are known for irritating skin. Instead, choose a gentle cleanser that cleans without drying and that can even help hydrate skin.

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water: Non-drying makeup remover

If you need to remove makeup at the end of the day, pick a makeup remover with moisturizing properties or one that doesn’t tone or tighten the skin. We spoke to a dermatologist who recommended micellar water, which lifts away makeup and dirt without leaving any residue or drying the skin.

Burt's Bees Peppermint Foot Lotion: Foot creams and peels 

The skin on your feet tends to lack moisture regardless of the time of year. In the winter, this spot on your body requires heavy-duty cream to remain smooth and supple. Slough off dead skin using foot peels or wraps and regularly coat your feet in thick foot moisturizers before slipping them into a pair of cozy socks.

Smashbox Photo Finish Reduce Redness Primer: Anti-redness products

Folks with rosacea or redness-prone skin may find winter to be a trying time. Dryness exacerbates redness, after all. Use a green-tinted primer to hydrate and prime the skin for makeup application or apply color correctors with a creamy consistency to combat red areas and dry patches.

Mother Made Snail Deep Sheet Mask: Relaxing face masks 

Boost your hydration efforts by introducing face masks to the mix. Pick a product with moisturizing ingredients, then sit back and relax while you watch your favorite holiday movies. 

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: Deeply hydrating hyaluronic acid

HA is a potent ingredient that hydrates the skin and helps maintain moisture levels over time. It also has the ability to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint: Creamy makeup

Lightweight powder formulas might cut it in the summer, but wintertime calls for products with a thick, creamy consistency. Opt for moisturizing foundations. Add a pop of color with the e.l.f Cosmetics Moisturizing Lipstick whose long-lasting formula contains soothing vitamins and shea.

Venture Pal Water Bottle with Motivational Time Marker: Stay hydrated

Dehydration is a surefire road to parched skin. Drink fluids throughout the day, and you’ll feel better outside and in. If you find it tough to drink enough water, try using this water bottle that features time-of-day cues to help you sip throughout the day.

What to avoid?

  • Stay away from products that contain alcohols. They’re incredibly drying. 

  • If possible, turn down your home’s thermostat. The heat only serves to further dry out your skin.

  • Don’t overwash your face. In the summer, you might find it necessary to wash morning and night, but during the winter, try rinsing with water in the morning and saving your deep cleanse for the evening before bed. 

  • Stop exfoliating. Don’t scrub off flaky patches before first attempting to hydrate the skin.

  • Skip the shower and opt for a soak in the tub instead. Use bath oils, creamy bubble baths, and moisturizing bath bombs to create a skin-friendly environment. Oatmeal soaks are equally great for the skin. They’re also gentle and non-irritating, so they’re suitable for all skin types.

  • Don’t use scented products if you have sensitive skin. Perfumed products tend to irritate the skin. 

  • Swap your harsh laundry detergent for a sensitive skin formula during the winter months. Your traditional detergent may exacerbate already dry, irritated skin.

  • Don’t combat breakouts too aggressively. Your regular acne-fighting products are super drying and are likely to leave you with flaky skin. Try mixing your acne products with a face moisturizer made for sensitive skin. 

When to talk to your dermatologist

If your dry skin worsens, continues to itch, or becomes red and inflamed, it may be worth a visit to your dermatologist. Cracked skin and excessive itching can both lead to bacterial infections, so if adjustments in your skincare routine don’t have the desired effect, speak to a healthcare professional. 


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Steph Coelho writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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