Saving Face

The Simplest (And Best) Winter Skincare Routine For Men

Making a few tweaks to your routine can make all the difference

by Bryan Levandowski
Westend61/Getty Images
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Winter is harsh on the skin. Cold. Wind. Heating systems. They all work against it, drawing moisture out and exacerbating any existing dermatological issues. But fear not, a few tweaks to your skincare routine — including changing up some core products — can help keep your skin in top condition and save you a lot of suffering.

In the same way, you ditch the windbreakers and trench coats in favor of heavier coats and parkas, your skin requires an extra layer of protection to face the harsh winter weather. Here’s how to build it — and keep your skin healthy all season long.

Tip 1: Load Up On Moisturizer

Why: According to dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Dr. Dendy Engelman, our skin may produce less oil meant to protect the skin barrier. This is due to the lack of moisture available in the air as the temperature drops. Our skin’s barrier is vital to its function as the body’s largest organ, helping to protect against pathogens and pollution as well as regulating temperature, and since our faces are visible most of the time, i.e. exposed to the elements, doubling up on moisturizer is a must—especially for guys who shave regularly.

What To Use: Choose a moisturizer that’s rich in ingredients designed to trap moisture on the skin, such as ceramides, but still suited to your skin type. Guys with bone-dry skin should opt for heavier formulations, such as creams, while those with combination skin could get away with a lotion texture.

Our Recommendation:

Tip 2: Add a Hydrating Serum

Why: If you’ve never used a serum before, now’s the best time to start. Serums are typically lightweight and formulated with a higher amount of active ingredients. When used under moisturizer as the first step of skincare, serum can significantly boost moisture levels. Trust us when we say that this is one small extra step that can go a long way.

What To Use: Choose a hydrating serum that includes hyaluronic acid. According to dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology Dr. Brendan Camp, this wonder ingredient “attracts and retains water molecules, which provides moisture and plumpness to the skin”.

Our Recommendation:

Tip 3: Choose A Gentler Cleanser

Why: Dr. Adam Tinklepaugh, a dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, explains that certain ingredients such as fragrance and alcohol may be too much for skin that becomes overly sensitive in the winter. “Swapping out a gel or foam cleanser for a cream cleanser is another way to implement moisture-locking qualities,” Dr. Engleman added. Which is a fair point: why spend all that time and money building up moisture on your skin, only to wash it away with a harsh cleanser?

What To Use: Opt for a cleanser that is formulated to maintain the skin's moisture level. Gentle cleansers remove dirt and excess oil without throwing the skin barrier off balance. These are the best option for anyone with sensitive skin.

Our Recommendation:

Tip 4: Layer Up

Why: According to Dr. Engelman, layering your serums and creams is an effective winter skin strategy. They provide multiple barriers or protection and further lock in moisture and hydration. This strategy is especially effective for guys with super dry skin or who spend a lot of time outside. In addition to using a serum and moisturizer daily, Engelman also advises adding a hydrating mask to your routine a few times a week to top up moisture levels.

What To Use: Incorporate a face mask that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid which increases skin moisture and elasticity.

Our recommendation:

Tip 5: Streamline Your Showers

Why: We all like a nice, hot shower after coming in from the cold, but if it’s healthy skin you’re after, think twice about cranking up the heat. The same goes for taking more than one shower a day. Showering too often, using hot, and harsh soaps all contribute to the risk of skin dryness.

Our recommendation: If you have to take more than one shower a day, Dr. Camp recommends making the second shower a “focused shower,” meaning only washing the focus areas (pits and groin). This gives the natural protective oils elsewhere on your body a chance to stay intact, thus helping to maintain a naturally healthy barrier.