When chill seeps into the air and the temperatures fade into the single digits, it’s time to start rethinking our beauty routines.
The good news is that preventing dry or irritated skin in the winter isn’t impossible. Sweet July spoke to six women of color—founders and experts in the beauty industry—who break down everything you need to know about how to preserve the softness of your skin, the glowing beauty of your face and the smoothness of your feet—all winter long.
Michelle Ranavat’s luxury skincare line, Ranavat, has taken the beauty world by storm because of its incorporation of Indian beauty rituals and Ayurvedic ingredients. One of the things Ranavat never does in the winter is go to sleep without her humidifier, which helps her skin stay hydrated through the night.
Ranavat, who lives in Los Angeles where the air is dry in the winter, recommends humidifiers for people who live in dry climates. “Staying hydrated is important to help maintain that natural glow,” she says.
To aid in hydration, she also loves making Ayurvedic teas to sip on during the day. “My mom and I have been making our family’s Ayurvedic recipes together for the last year or so,” adds Ranavat. “Two of my favorite recipes going into the winter months are this energizing drink powered by turmeric and cinnamon, and this Ayurvedic immunity-boosting elixir that I’ll be making weekly.”
Amy Chang, a skincare expert, pays close attention to winter’s impact on her skin, especially because she has eczema. “Everyone is inside with their heaters,” says Chang. “It leads to low humidity in the air, further exacerbating dry skin. And cold temperatures can trigger eczema.”
Winter is an important time to incorporate foods and supplements with pre and probiotics, ceramides and fatty acids. “This will help heal any micro-cracks in the skin barrier and help prevent TEWL (trans epidermal water loss),” says Chang. The kind of cleanser you use is also important; Chang says she “tends to switch over to oil, milk and cream cleansers, and steer away from foaming cleansers during the cold months.”
Dr. Rose Ingelton is a board-certified dermatologist, and her eponymous skin-care line is inspired by the natural ingredients she grew up using in Jamaica, like Caribbean sea whip extract.
For Dr. Ingleton, winter is a time to luxuriate in her skincare routine. “Adding an extra layer of hydration through a hydrating serum or essence can be very helpful,” she says.
But, she advises to stay away from harsh cleansers and avoid washing with hot water. “[It] can disrupt your skin barrier and cause dryness and damage,” says Dr. Ingleton. She also suggests reducing the use of prescription retinoids and strong fruit acids, and only exfoliating two to three times a week.
For people who love getting facials or medical treatments, Dr. Ingleton believes certain treatments are ideal for the winter. “We do the DiamondGlow facial at the practice, which is microdermabrasion plus the infusion of hydrating serums into your skin at the same time,” she says. “That’s great for getting rid of dull, flaky skin and adding hydration.” For clinical treatments, Dr. Ingleton recommends Fraxel (a fractionated laser treatment).
Even when the sun’s not shining, do not neglect your sunscreen routine. Chang says SPF is crucial for the winter (especially if you’re getting treatments like chemical peels of exfoliation), even though so many people forget it in the colder months. “In general, whether it’s winter or summer, I can’t live without SPF,” says Chang. “I struggle with pigmentation and am always fighting it with in-office treatments like chemical peels and lasers—so to maintain the results I get from in-office treatments, SPF is a must.”
In the winter, the combination of hot showers and freezing temperatures can leave our bodies feeling so dry it’s almost painful. That’s why “exfoliating and moisturizing regularly in the winter is crucial to maintaining skin health,” says Sina Zere, co-founder of Buff Experts—a plant-powered body care brand. Habits like removing dead skin and reducing ingrown hairs are crucial this time of year, but so is ensuring we’re not stripping our skin of essential oils.
“Dehydrated skin can lead to a compromised skin barrier, which is the outermost layer of your skin that serves as the first line of defense for your body,” adds Zere. “A compromised skin barrier can lead to dryness, irritation and cracking to more serious skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and Keratosis pilaris (KP).”
Living in the Canadian town of Edmonton, Alberta, Zere says, “winters are long (six months), incredibly cold and incredibly dry.” So in the winter, she hyper–focuses on hydration—specifically the timing of her hydration. “I limit my shower time and temperature to limit water loss from my skin,” says Zere. “I also make a point of moisturizing no later than 30 seconds after stepping out of the shower to lock in that magical cocktail of water and moisturizer.”
For bar soaps or body washes, Zere recommends looking for one that contains nourishing ingredients like shea butter and avocado oil. If you’re a bath person, she recommends adding a few drops of body oil to the tub.
And if you’re into DIY skincare, Dr. Ingelton suggests a Jamaican classic: mixing brown sugar and coconut oil to make an exfoliating body scrub to accompany your bath time.
In the warmer months, we show off our feet in sandals paired with sundresses or swimsuits, which means we tend to pay close attention to how our feet actually look. In the winter, we hide our toes from the chill with thick socks and clunky shoes, which protects them from the cold but sometimes leads to neglect. “Our feet have purpose,” says Chrissy Cabrera, founder of Naturally London, which is known for foot polishes and butters. “They are our foundation and affect our overall wellness.”
Cabrera recommends exfoliating your feet no more than twice a week, followed by double moisturizing with an oil or cream, and then a foot butter. To finish it all off, Cabrera says to put on your favorite cozy socks.
Scrubs are great, but you can also try chemical exfoliants. Just be careful which ones you choose. When exfoliating your feet, pharmacist Dr. Jasmine Yamini, co-founder of foot-focused skincare brand Serum Doctor, says to avoid products that contain harsh chemicals, drying agents like alcohol, or added colors and fragrances. “These tend to irritate and strip the skin of its moisture,” she tells Sweet July.
Dr. Yamini also recommends paying attention to diet and vitamin intake. “Vitamin D helps in skin cell renewal and repair,” she adds. “Vitamin C helps in collagen production, and Vitamin E helps protect skin cells against free radicals.”
One of the easiest things you can do for your skin this winter? Drink water. “I drink lots of water, especially in the winter, to keep my organs and skin hydrated,” says Zere.