Don’t worry if you’ve noticed your skin becoming drier and more sensitive over the winter months – you’re not alone. The bad news is that this is a natural occurrence that you can’t avoid, unless you move to the equator. The good news is that a few simple changes to your skin care routine can minimise the effect of the cold. We've put together this winter skin care guide to help you keep your skin hydrated and healthy through to spring.

Exfoliate
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Dry skin isn't good at shedding its dead cells, so give it a helping hand by investing in an exfoliator to tackle dullness and keep uneven pigmentation at a minimum. There are several different kinds available, from granular scrubs with gritty textures to chemical exfoliators, AHAs and BHAs, loaded with skin-soothing properties. Application every two or three days will reveal brighter, plumper and healthier skin.


Whichever formula you prefer, go gently with the application as extreme scrubbing can overstimulate dry skin and leave it feeling all the more parched. It's always best to exfoliate in the evening, especially if you're using a chemical exfoliant, as the skin becomes more sensitive to the sun's harmful UV rays after application.



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Cleanse
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If you have a dry or normal complexion, switching to a cream-based cleanser can make all the difference when it comes to retaining a smooth and even skin tone. Alternatively, opt for an oil-based cleanser to help gently strip away makeup and debris without reducing the natural oils which form the skin’s protective barrier. Choosing a fragrance-free cleanser will help ensure you cut out any unnecessary ingredients which could affect your skin’s essential moisture.



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Tone
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Toners are known for their skin-tightening properties, giving the appearance of smaller pores and improved pH balance. You'll want to look out for toners with moisture-boosting ingredients like vitamin E and rosehip oil to ensure your skin gets all the refreshing benefits without causing an imbalance or dehydrating the skin. For your winter skincare routine, alcohol-free formulas are a must, as alternatives can exacerbate dryness.



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Moisturise
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Moisturisers are, unsurprisingly, one of the best skin care products for winter skin. As with your cleanser, it's worth picking up an emollient-rich moisturiser with a cream-like consistency, particularly for face care in winter. Look out for three key ingredients: stearic acid, emollient ceramides and cholesterol, all of which will pep up your moisture levels.


For those with very dry skin, hyaluronic acid moisturisers have powerful moisture-binding properties to keep your face looking plump and hydrated. Barrier-repairing ceramides and fatty acids are other ingredients to look out for and make an excellent addition to a winter skin care routine. .



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Oils and serums
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Facial oils return moisture and elasticity to your skin, smoothing wrinkles and soothing irritation in the process. Dry skin especially will see serious benefits right away with ingredients like antioxidants, polyphenols and omega fatty acids working to effectively revive sore, flaky hands and cheeks. Add a couple of drops into your day cream, night cream or even cleanser to boost your moisture intake. Alternatively, apply directly after your moisturiser, leave to absorb and await a smoother, less inflamed complexion.



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Face masks
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Ideal for when you need that additional boost, a moisturising face mask is a pick-me-up for dry skin in winter. Few things can restore balance and brightness like an effective mask, so consider incorporating one every now and again when you feel like you need perking up. Look for one with pro-collagen to revive a dull-looking complexion, or pick a vitamin- infused rescuer brimming with ingredients formulated to deliver a bright and lively complexion. Sheet masks make a refreshing alternative for those looking for an emergency boost.



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Diet and lifestyle tips for dry skin
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Skin care goes beyond creams and lotions – it’s also about lifestyle. Where possible, reduce your exposure to moisture-depleting conditions like low humidity, harsh winds and strong winter sun. Sadly, this also means cutting down your time in those long hot baths. Steer clear of oil-stripping soaps and try lathering up with a few drops of essential oils instead.


Your diet can also play a role in avoiding dry skin in winter. Eat a variety of foods rich in essential fatty acids like walnuts, flaxseed, oily fish and olive oil to further improve the skin's hydration levels.