How to Avoid Flaky Winter Skin

While I was still working front-of-house at a restaurant, I used to get this regular. She had short-cropped white hair and always wore a hot pink sweater, no matter the weather. And she, without fail, at some point during our brief interaction together, would whisper to me, "I love your skin."

I was never sure whether I was more creeped out than flattered, but it is true that our skin is our most noticeable feature. It's the largest organ of our bodies. And with cold weather kicking in and indoor heating cranking up, it's a good idea to switch into a skin routine that focuses on hydrating and locking in moisture.

Before I go ahead and give you some pointers on how to avoid cracking, flaky winter skin, I do want to remind you that everyone's skin has its own unique tendencies and different things work best on different people. I'm not sponsored by any of the product brands I mention in this post, but they're what works for me. You're the one who's been living in your skin for your entire life, so you know best! 


If you want to tackle one of those 17-step beauty routines that Korean pop stars do, be my guest. But there are just two main products that personally, have revolutionized my face to the point where people asked me if I was doing something different. And those two products are toner and serum

Yes, these do sound like weird Marvel movie/science-fiction products. No, you will not turn into Captain America (sorry). What toner does is prep your skin for receiving moisture – like a primer for moisturizer. And serum provides the first layer of moisture that can provide some more specialized treatment; for example, I use a vitamin C serum to help me correct any redness in my skin. If you're mainly concerned with hydration, hyaluronic acid is probably your best bet. 

What you do is as soon as you've washed your face or stepped out of the shower, while your skin is still wet, spray your face and neck with toner. Sometimes, when I'm feeling really dehydrated, I'll apply the serum while my face is still damp from toner, but you don't have to. If you do any eye creams or spot treatments (because we all were disappointed when adulthood didn't actually mean the end of pimples), you apply them after toner and before serum. If you're doing a sheet face mask, which I admit I am somewhat addicted to, use that instead of serum in your routine. Then you can apply your moisturizer. Three or four steps instead of 17. You're welcome.

This is my literal favorite toner that changed my life because it also works as a leave-in hair conditioner, but Nordstrom Rack also sells 2 oz versions of this toner that's supposedly a makeup artist fave for only $5. You could also use plain rosewater, which will make your bathroom smell like the lair of a literal angel. Also, toners can be used as setting sprays, and who doesn't love a multitasking beauty product? And don't discount using natural oils, if that's your thing! I knew a girl who had perfectly clear skin, and it turned out she just used avocado oil as her moisturizer. Like I said, whatever works best for you.


Obviously, regular lotioning is key here, especially right after you get out of the shower to really lock moisture in. I like using those TSA-approved plastic travel bottles (here at Walmart or the fancier version on Amazon)  so I can have some lotion in my purse and in my backpack in case of dry hands. I'm a total scenthound enamored with the idea of having a "signature" scent, so being able to have all my body product scents matching is a big bonus.

This is a weird family trick I've always done too: keeping a bowl of water in your bedroom at night. Because of the heating in your house, the water will slowly evaporate and add moisture back into the air that the heating is usually sucking out. And don't forget to drink water for yourself, too!



This is what I really struggle with all year round – I've got super dry split ends because I digitally permed my hair for years since I was sixteen, and then I started dyeing my hair about two years ago. Fortunately for Sephora, Ulta, and Amazon, my sheet facial mask addiction has now expanded to include hair masks. 

Honestly, I don't really like the hair masks that come as a wrap, though they do have warming ones that would be really soothing for a winter evening while you do homework or watch Netflix. Because I have really thick hair, I prefer the cream-based hair masks that come in jars, which you can just slap on in the shower, jam out to your shower playlist for the duration of one song (not so bad, huh?) and then wash out. I'm currently using this manuka honey hair mask because that's how bad my hair's gotten, but Garnier Fructis has this new line of 1-minute hair masks that look really promising. If you don't want a store-bought hair mask, you can definitely mix up your own hair mask at home using a mashed-up banana and honey or coconut oil. (And if you want to use a banana from the caf, I'm sure that'll work just fine, and I definitely won't tell.)

Winter can be rough for a lot of reasons – icy conditions, the end of semester, the stress of all those holidays – but it doesn't have to be rough on your skin.

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