I don’t know about you, but winter is the absolute hardest season on my skin. I have friends with oily skin who complain about summer… or even transitional weather (which can be problematic for me as well) but winter skin is the bane of my existence. My skin cracks, gets red… and is even more sensitive than usual. And don’t get me started about when I get sick… (right now I’m sporting the reddest nose of all time thanks to 9 days of non-stop nose-blowing!)
Alas, I do have a pretty dependable beauty routine, and some golden rules that I live by… which I’m sharing here for you today. I’m not a professional, but I am skincare obsessed + know what works for me… and am frequently told that I do not look my age (thirty three and proud of it, for the record!) That’s gotta count for something, right?
Rule #1: No matter what, always wash your face.
It sounds counterintuitive (as your skin gets so dry in the winter) but washing your face is extra important during the winter. It preps the skin for hydration, and gets rid of dead skin cells. I’m a huge fan of the double cleanse (starting with a milk or oil based cleanser – this one from Tata Harper is a favorite, and then following up with a purifying gel cleanser.) And while we are on that note about prepping for hydration, always exfoliate… at least a few times a week. While I take pretty great care of my skin, exfoliating is the one step I often forget about… but it’s critical – especially this time of year.
- Oil Cleanser: Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser // Bobbi Brown Soothing Oil Cleanser
- Gel Cleanser: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser // Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel (an old fave that I always forget about!)
- Exfoliate: Sisley Gentle Buffing Cream (love this one – you let it dry and then rub it off for perfectly smooth skin!) // Fresh Sugar Face Scrub
Rule #2: Pale is Pretty.
If I had a dollar for every time one of my friends complains about how pasty her skin is, I could probably quit my day job and my blog. This is something I just don’t understand. Ladies. Pale is pretty. Embrace it. Own your natural skin tone. In my younger years, I was the queen of self-tanning, spray tans, and bronzer. Not anymore. I think pale skin is not only more beautiful, but actually fresher + younger looking. You’ll find you have to pay attention to other areas of your beauty routine (for me, it’s always filling my brows in… and almost always wearing a lipstick) but it’s worth it. Pale is pretty. And better for your skin in the long run. Swap your bronzer for a great highlighter… you won’t look back!
On that note, I’ve gotten nearly all of my girlfriends hooked on SK-II’s Treatment Essence. It does magical things to your skin. After cleansing, I pour a tiny amount into my hand. I then pat it into my skin and allow for it to dry before applying serum and moisturizer. In the short term, it reduces redness and evens out your skin tone. The longterm benefits are amazing, though. The main ingredient, Pitera, is basically youth in a bottle. Seriously — women actually refer to it as “holy water!” The bottle is expensive, but it lasts a long time (the 2.5 oz. bottle lasts six-eight months for me.)
Recommended Products: SK-II Treatment Essence
Rule #3: Pale but not Pasty… Hydrate Often + Use a Face Oil!
With pale skin comes great responsibility. Pale is great, but pale dry skin… no. I live for hydration. I could moisturize all day long if I didn’t have a job and a million other things to be doing. On a day where I’m not rushed, post-cleansing I will apply my SK-II… and then a hydrating serum… and then a little bit of face oil (to my cheeks + forehead as those places get dryer), and then, my moisturizer. Alas, most mornings I am pressed for time so I will mix a few drops of face oil into my day cream. And at night I will apply a layer of face oil over my moisturizer to really seal it in.
And when my skin is super distressed (right now) I rely on a heavier duty cream. For years I was devoted to La Mer (and made the tiny .5 oz jar last a year.) It was (and still is, while I use up the jar) my go-to whenever my skin is seriously distressed (when I’m sick or had too much fun the night before.) I recently discovered Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream and it works just as well (and the 1.7 oz. jar is the same price as the .5 oz. jar of La Mer) If you go the La Mer route, my only caveat is to make sure you go with the original and not the “soft” version. To me, the soft is just a watered down version… you have to apply more, so the jar does not last nearly as long.
- Daily Moisturizer: Tata Harper Reparative Moisturizer
- Distressed Skin Moisturizer: La Mer Moisturizing Cream // Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream
- Face Oil: Sisley Black Rose Face Oil // Fresh Seaberry Oil
Rule #4: You Really (Really) Need an Eye Cream.
I don’t know why this comes as a surprise (and my friend Annie wrote a great post about it here), but guys… if you aspire to look young for your age (don’t we all?) eye cream is seriously, seriously important. This skin is ultra delicate (and prone to fine lines.) If you don’t do it for the long term benefits, do it for the short term benefits (less puffiness, reduction of dark circles.) I really really love the new one from Clarins, and also love this serum from La Prairie. I apply eye cream in the morning, at night, and I have this one at my desk for in between hydration. (Do I sound totally and 100% crazy, yet?)
Rule #5: Pamper often.
Sometimes, “rules” can be fun… and this is one of them. Real talk: if I could do a mask every single night, I totally would. And sometimes I do. This past December, I was pretty much chained to my computer most nights as I took on a few too many projects for the blog. What saved me was my beauty routine. I would wash my face when I got home and apply a different face mask every night. While I was working away at my computer, my skin was reaping some serious pampering benefits (and I was testing products to write about here… talk about multi-tasking!) I was barely sleeping, but no one was any wiser. The best mask in the world is this sheet mask. It’s expensive, so I only use it on special occasions… but I always have one on hand in case of emergency (or the night before a date that I’m actually excited about…)
When my skin is dull or tired, I swear by Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask (also great right before a big event.) It exfoliates and leaves rough skin considerable smoother… without any irritation. I also love her moisturizing mask before bedtime. You apply a thin layer and sleep in it… skin is noticeably softer by morning.
Lastly, I swear by all of Sisley’s masks. The best part about them (besides that they yield fantastic results) is that each of these can be tissued off.. so if you are watching TV in bed you don’t have to get up and wash it off. I can’t believe I said that but it’s true. They’re great for when you want to be lazy. The black rose mask is a favorite as it is super hydrating and refines skin tone, but I love the eye contour mask too. And the floral mask is amazing for the plane. I apply a thin layer before take-off and then tissue off when we land.
Whew. That was quite the round-up, but there you have it… my holy grail! I’m not here to make you spend $1,000,000 in products. If you do just one thing, treat yourself to the oil cleanser, and a single use SK-II mask. It will change your life.
What are your own skincare rules?
Thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post.