Winter Skin Care Tips: 3 Simple Steps

Winter Skin Care tipsWinter is the “perfect storm” for drying out your skin and you will need the best winter skin care to prevent chapped skin.

During winter, the indoor and outdoor air pull water from your skin – leaving it dry, scaly, itchy, and chapped. Slathering on moisturizing creams and lotions will not help if you’re applying them at the wrong time, using the wrong products, or countering their benefits by using harsh soaps.

There are three simple steps to moisturize and nourish your skin all winter long – it is actually easy. Follow these three steps and you’ll make it through the dry winter months with healthy and comfortable skin that looks and feels great.

Good news! Many of the winter skin care products recommend below are also part of our Holiday Special Sale going on now till December 16th.

What are the 3 simple (but essential) steps to prevent chapped winter skin?

  1. Moisturize every day right after you’ve washed your skin and toweled it dry.
  2. Use only gentle soaps, cleanse with only cool or warm (not hot) water on your skin, and thoroughly rinse all soap residue off.
  3. Protect your skin from the drying winter elements by:
  • Wearing gloves and clothing that protect your skin from harsh, cold weather.
  • Creating more indoor air humidity with a humidifier.

It’s really that simple!

Why do these 3 steps work so well?

Moisturizers applied to your skin after washing help trap the water that soaked into the outer layers of your skin during the bathing process; they will also hold the water in your skin throughout the day. Conversely, applying moisturizer onto dry skin will make your skin feel greasy without adding water. It’s why keeping hand cream at your desk and applying it throughout the day does not work very well to prevent chapped hands. Again, moisturizers trap water but they don’t significantly add it.

Gentle soaps, plus cooler water temperatures and a thorough rinsing of all soap residue work together to prevent the stripping of your natural skin oils when you bathe. “Harsh soaps” remove extra amounts of your skin’s natural oils. They can also cause skin irritation. This, in turn, can lead to skin water loss, which is the beginning of chapping your skin. Leaving any soap residue on your skin will do the same. To understand the importance of avoiding hot bath and shower water, remember how hot water cleans the grease off of pots and pans better than cool water does.

Dry air around your skin works to pull the water out. It’s just like drying your wet laundry by hanging it out to dry. Adding wind increases the drying ability of the air. If you’re not able to wait out the winter on a warm and humid tropical island, then cover up to protect your skin from the cold and windy winter air. Wear gloves, a face mask, and muffler when you are outdoors. Consider using an indoor humidifier to add moisture to your dry, heated indoor air. This will help prevent moisture loss from your skin while you are indoors.

What are the best skin care products to use in the winter to prevent and treat dry skin?

Rich moisturizers are best for winter skin care.

A rich moisturizer is one that includes some oils and/or water-binding ingredients (such as lanolin, glycerin, hyaluronic acid). My absolute favorite moisturizers for winter skin care are my All Natural Face and Body Butter Cream and my All Natural Face and Body Lotion. I love these natural products. They’re the hydrating heroes for my sensitive skin during the winter.

The All Natural Face and Body Butter Cream is part of Complete Dry Skin Care Product Collection  and the All Natural Face and Body Lotion is part of my Best Skin Care Collection for the Body Holiday Special sale.

Winter Skin Care: Best Natural Face and Body Butter Cream for winter Winter Skin care: Best All Natural Face, Hand and Body Lotion for winterDermatologist recommended vanicream for winter skin care

That cream is like a miracle drug!…I’m going to give the Butter Cream to everyone this year as a gift, it’s fantastic.   Michele P

Other moisturizer options include VaniCream, which like my Natural Body Butter and Lotion, is also hypoallergenic. Alternatively, you could use jojoba oil, olive oil, shea butter, or one of the good old standard dermatologic moisturizers such as Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, Eucerin Original Healing Creme, or Nivea Cream. These brands also make thinner lotion products, but for winter you want a thick and rich product.

Your hands are exposed to the winter elements and so hand moisturizers need to be applied multiple times during the day. Remember, moisturizers work best when you apply them after wetting your skin. Since you wash your hands repeatedly throughout the day, it’s easy to moisturize them after washing. Keep a non-greasy hand moisturizer by your sinks to make it easier to apply it many times a day. This will make a huge difference to healing your chapped hands. I think the best hand cream for winter skin care is my Dry Skin Hand Cream. I keep a tube in my lab coat and by every sink that I frequent, and it saves my hands from the winter elements.

If your hands are prone to severe winter chapping, consider using my Dry Hand Skin Repair Kit - it’s 911 for severely dry hands.

The Dry Skin Hand Cream is part of Complete Dry Skin Care Product Collection Special Holiday Sale. Save $17 on this special collection till 12/16/13.

Best dry skin hand cream for winter

I love your hand cream.  I substituted some other stuff (like Nivea, Bert’s Bees etc) but it didn’t work as well.  I’ve turned other people on to it. Paula M

Lips are uniquely exposed to the winter elements too. Apply a simple, but long-lasting and moisturizing lip balm all day long. My favorite is Ceralip. When you are outdoors in the sun (yes even winter sun is harmful to your skin) use EltaMD Lip Balm SPF 31 with mineral zinc oxide sun protection. Be sure to always use lip balms with simple ingredients because many “healing” lip balms contain ingredients that can cause allergic reactions that mimic chapped lips.

The Ceralip is part of Complete Dry Skin Care Product Collection special holiday sale.  Save $14.00 on this collection which will help your winter care needs.

Winter skin care lip balm for winterbest winter skin care Elta Lip Balm SPF 31 for winter

Luv, Luv, Luv Ceralip- lifetime of cracked, dry lips until ceralip.  Thanks Dr. Bailey”  Tricia H,

Gentle Soaps Are Best For Winter Skin Care

The most gentle soaps are syndets (synthetic detergent). They are made from ingredients that are unlikely to irritate your skin or disturb your skin’s pH. Options include VaniCream Cleansing Bar, Dove Unscented Aquanil Cleanser, and Toleriane Cleanser.

Best all purpose winter skin care Soap VanicreamToleriane: Best winter skin care facial cleanser

If you want natural skin care, try a glycerin bar soap or a natural soap made by a master soap maker that leaves in the natural glycerin that results from the soap making process. A master soap maker will also remove excess alkali, which can make a natural soap actually harsh to sensitive skin. My natural soaps are made by a master soap maker which is why my Naturally Best Bar Soap for Dry Skin is such a great option for winter skin care. It’s affordable and perfect for the entire family. For your hands, use a foaming cleanser that rinses off thoroughly such as All Natural Foaming Liquid Hand Soap.  Natural soaps perform best in softened water.

best natural winter skin care bar soap for winter


Thanks Dr. Bailey for taking a few years off my face.

Florence B



If you want to treat your entire your entire body with the best winter skin care you can, and save money too, check out my Complete Dry Skin Care Product Collection or our other great holiday collections here.  These make great holiday gifts!

If you have found the 3 steps and products helpful for your winter skin care needs, thanks for commenting, sharing and”Liking”, Tweeting”,  “Pinning” and Google +1 this blog post with friends and family.  Sincerely, Dr. Bailey Skin Care Team

Photo attribution: Thanks and Gratitude to © Ocean/Corbis.


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9 Responses to “Winter Skin Care Tips: 3 Simple Steps”

  1. jenny December 11, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Do you have any suggestions for the skin in nasal passages that can get dry and even bleed in the dry winter weather? Thank you for all your wonderful information & product suggestions.

  2. Cynthia Bailey December 11, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    Jenny I definitely do. I have been working on a post on exactly this topic as part of my chemotherapy and breast cancer information because it’s a really big problem with chemo too. I’ll probably get that post up in a week or so and you are helping me to hurry that up so thank you. Basically, what I tell my patients to do is wet the interior of the nasal passage with a nasal rinse or by gently inhaling drops of tap water then use a cotton-tipped applicator with a small amount of Vasaline or other hydrating ointment and apply it to the lining skin inside the nose. If this is done numerous times a day it will gradually allow the skin of the passages to heal. It’s exactly the same concept as moisturizing the skin where the moisturizer is applied after water contact to lock in hydration. The nasal passages heal faster than the skin in my experience, which is both professional and personal. Sometimes the germ Staph lives in the nose and causes an infection there when the skin is dry and chapped. In that case I have patients add the prescription Mupiricin Ointment (an antibiotic that kills Staph) in place of the Vasaline and have them do the treatment 3 times a day. So, that’s a sneak peek at the important points of the post.

  3. Cura Pelle December 12, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    Hi Dr. Bailey,

    I remember that you used to advise initiating hydroquinone regimens (4 months) in the fall. I’ve started to use 3% hydroquinone cream sparingly on some spots of hyperpigmentation. In just 3 days, I’m seeing modest improvement, and this pleases me. I was wondering if there are any caveats regarding its use in eyelids. My upper eyelids are very dark and oily. Besides the obvious do-not-get-it-in-the-eye caution, is there anything else I should know?

    I hope you’re feeling well and that You had a fun Thanksgiving. cp

  4. Cynthia Bailey December 13, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    Hello Cura,
    I am doing remarkably well relative to what my body and psyche is going through. Remember that product melts and migrates and take that into account when applying it around the eye area. Watch for early signs of contact derm (irritant or allergic) which manifests initially as scale and dryness on the lids before revving up into a red eczematous mess. Product will concentrate in the upper lid crease, making it more vulnerable, especially to irritants. Cheers and Happy Holidays to you!

  5. Cura Pelle December 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Thanks, Dr. Bailey.

    I read that you’re coming up on some serious surgery early January. Here’s wishing you an ability to stay calm as you wait on your results. If you’re amenable to answering, I’d like to know what surgery you’ve had already.

    Hugs and warm wishes,

  6. Cynthia Bailey December 14, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Hello Cura,
    I don’t mind sharing where I am in this process. I have not had any surgeries except the 2 biopsies and the port placement. The new treatment trend for high grade triple negative breast cancer (I have bilateral tumors which is something BRCA mutation carriers do) is to give chemo before surgery (neoadjuvant) because it’s prognosticating. If the surgical pathology tissue exam shows that the cancer responds that’s really, really good (two reallys). If the cancer does not respond, that’s bad and so different chemo is given after surgery. It means this could go on and on.

    My first surgery is January 7th and it’s a bilateral mastectomy with bilateral sentinel lymph node removal as well as the beginning phase of reconstruction. Everything after that hinges on the pathology so I am quite anxious about the pathology. Those 4 tests hold the answers to my short and long term fate. I’m working to be realistically hopeful while at the same time being open to whatever the situation throws at me. Bottom line though is that I’m anxious.

  7. Cura Pelle December 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Oh, Dr. Bailey, I’m so sorry you’re anxious. I know that what you’re experiencing now is difficult, as surgery and recovery will be difficult, but the anxiety is an awful sensation and I wish that you were not experiencing it, but I do understand. I’m sorry that you and your spouse of 2-3 decades are experiencing such difficult things.

    Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.
    ~ Mark Twain

    Hugs and best wishes,

  8. Sally December 24, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    You can never be too careful with your skin.

  9. Houston Cosmetic Surgery January 29, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

    These are quite healthy tips to make your skin fresh and oxygenated.