A Hydrating Skincare Routine for Winter.

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Hydrating Skincare Routine

On social media, I often joke that I am part lizard. My skin runs very very dry (thanks, Dad!) and winter can be especially rough… literally! Moving to a warmer climate has definitely helped, but any time we get a cold front (or I get on a plane), my skin freaks out a little. I have always followed a pretty rigorous skincare routine but winter is where I really double down on serums, masks, and creams to hydrate my skin and lock in as much moisture as possible. Today I am going to share a skin care routine that incorporates the most effective skin hydrating and replenishing ingredients.

My Hydrating Skincare Routine!

This time of year, my biggest objective is MOISTURE, getting any lost moisture back into my skin, and locking it in. My skincare routine reflects that! I should also note that it is important to be drinking enough water. You have to take care of your skin from the inside out! I also think that a good sweat helps. I don’t care how you sweat (running, hot yoga, laying down in a sauna blanket) but a good sweat absolutely makes a big difference!

The Importance Of Hydrating Your Skin

Dry, dehydrated skin doesn’t look good and it doesn’t feel good either! When skin is dehydrated you will notice dullness and more fine lines. Dark circles will appear darker, there will be more shadows, skin might even itch. Think of how your face feels after a really long flight. Nobody wants that! This time of year especially, it’s so important to moisturize, mask, and use hydrating ingredients (like hyaluronic acid) to help lock in moisture. Hydrated skin looks younger but besides that, it just FEELS GOOD!

Skincare routines depend on the person. I always say, listen to your skin: it will tell you what it needs. This is my winter routine, as my skin gets dry and dehydrated. If you have oily skin this routine is probably not for you (though you may love the eye cream and some of the masks!).

Hydrating Skincare Routine for Winter


Note: This is probably intuitive but something I get asked about a lot so figured I’d say it! I often will do an 11am workout, so if I am doing that I just splash my face with water and then apply a little moisturizer and/or oil and then do the full skincare routine after my workout. No need to do it twice!

Step 1: Cream Cleanser

I love a cream cleanser this time of year. A cleansing balm is great too (I think they’re the same benefits wise) but there is something I just really love about a cream cleanser. This one from Sisley is extremely luxe but runs pricey… this one from Elemis is just as nice and a bit more affordable.

Step 2: Eye Cream

I used to do eye cream after my serums and regular moisturizer but learned from Caroline Hirons’ (skincare QUEEN!) book to do eye cream first! Since eye cream has such specialized ingredients for the under eye area you want to make sure they touch your under eye skin first! My absolute favorite eye cream is this one from Strivectin. It does an incredible job targeting everything: fine lines, puffiness, dark circles, even those dreaded eleven lines.

Step 3: Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C is one of my favorite active ingredients for morning as it brightens up the skin and makes you GLOW! I really like Sunday Riley’s C.E.O. Brightening Serum.

Step 4: Moisturizer

I love my Augustinus Bader! If you love a rich moisturizer like that but can’t stomach the price of Bader, I do think that Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream is similar in formula (really rich and hydrating).

Step 5: SPF

This step is so important — you want to protect your skin from UV rays every day even if it is not sunny outside. You know how much I adore Supergoop – their sunscreens are pretty much all I will use. I love love love Unseen Sunscreen as it provides great protection but feels like nothing on your face.

Elemis cream cleanser


Step 1: Cream Cleanser

Same as above, though if I am wearing a lot of makeup I will massage it in for a minute or two and then let it really sit on my skin for a long time to dissolve any makeup! Cream cleansers are so wonderful. They take off all your makeup but won’t strip the skin.

Step 2: Gel Cleanser

A forever favorite gel cleanser will always be Fresh’s Soy Face Wash. It’s amazing. It’s gentle and feels so good on the skin, the (faint) fragrance is amazing, and it will remove any lingering dirt, oil, or makeup without stripping the skin. This will work well for sensitive skin types as well.

Step 3: Toner

I think of toner as the final step in the cleansing process. Two from Nordstrom that I really like are this one from Indie Lee (it’s so gentle and contains our favorite hydrating ingredient – hyaluronic acid, as well as soothing plant extracts for sensitive skin — will not strip the skin!) and this one from Mario Badescu which has glycolic acid (perfect when my skin feels like it needs a little added hydration!

Step 4: Eye Cream

Same as above, and I love my Strivectin eye cream! Just remember: eye creams should be applied before your other serums!

Step 5: Serum

I rotate my evening serums depending on which active ingredients I want to use. Sometimes it is hyaluronic acid, sometimes it is retinol, sometimes lactic acid. For retinol, this one from Kiehl’s is fabulous. I love how gentle it is, I don’t experience any dryness. I try to do this 2-3x a week. For hyaluronic acid, I love this serum as it also strengthens the skin. I have yet to try the Kylie Beauty Hyaluronic Acid Serum but the price is certainly right!

Step 6: Moisturizer

It is no secret how much I love Augustinus Bader’s Rich Cream. It is my perfect moisturizer, and such a good hydrating face cream.

Step 7 (maybe): Face Oil

Oil is amazing as it helps to lock in moisture. For that reason, it should always be the last step! There are so many fancy face oils out there but I prefer to spend my money on the layers that go closest to your skin (serums, creams, eye creams). Something really basic like Indie Lee’s pure squalane oil will do the trick! Note: I don’t do face oil every night… just when it is feeling really dry. Usually that is when I have a cold or have been sick, have been out in the cold a lot, or after flying.

Water Drench hyaluronic cloud mask hydrating gel

A word about hyaluronic acid.

This time of year, hyaluronic acid is my best friend. It is one of my favorite active ingredients. I love this Kiehl’s Serum. Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in our bodies (it’s found in our skin, our connective tissues, etc). But just like with collagen, as we age, we produce less of it (This is one of the main reasons that we notice dryer skin as we get older. I think the name can be confusing, making people think it’s an exfoliant, but it isn’t! Hyaluronic acid, or HA, will not exfoliate your skin but it will hydrate it.

HA is known for its powers to plump and hydrate, leaving skin soft and supple (and reducing the look of fine lines as it plumps). HA is a humectant. A humectant is a substance that naturally attracts water to it. It can do this by drawing moisture from the air, from creams, etc. Hyaluronic acid actually pulls moisture from the air into your skin.

From an ingredient/science perspective, it’s best as a serum or as an ingredient in a moisturizer. If you just put HA on your face alone you won’t see great benefits, the benefits really happen when you layer a hyaluronic acid serum under a moisturizer. The HA attracts the water from the cream, pulling it into your skin. Think of it as a powerful booster for your favorite moisturizer.

Favorite Products

Hydrating Skincare Routine for Winter

Face Masks

I will tell you that winter is the time I mask the most. Sometimes it is even every day! I love a good face mask. If I am not wearing makeup, why not!? I’m often just sitting at home working at my laptop, in which case I will just throw on a face mask.

If I have a shoot or a big event, the Clarins depuffing mask is such a game changer — it really makes a difference. I also love to double mask, at least once a week. If I am seeing clogged pores I will do a clay mask and then something soothing and moisturizing. If my skin feels really tight and dry I’ll do an exfoliating/resurfacing mask, followed by a hydrating mask. When it comes to hydrating masks, nothing is better than this one or this one!

My current mask rotation…

Bioeffect skincare
Hydrating Skincare Routine products
Grace Atwood winter skincare routine


Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. Nancy:

    I need to start using a Vitamin C product but the cost of the one you recommend is so high for me. Is there a comparable one less money that I could try out to see the difference before such a costly investment? Thank you.

    1.17.23 Reply
    • Hi Nancy,

      What are you looking to spend? I have not yet personally tried any really affordable Vitamin C products that I love (they tend to be expensive unfortunately). For affordable products I do love Olay (but haven’t tried a vit c product from them) and The Inkey List (they have an amazing hyaluronic acid!). The Inkey List does have a very affordable Vit C but I’ve yet to try it personally: https://www.theinkeylist.com/products/vitamin-c-serum

      1.17.23 Reply
      • Nancy:

        50.00 or under but perhaps not realistic for quality

        1.17.23 Reply
    • Susan:

      Try a vitamin C produce from The Ordinary. They have great prices.
      I really like their vitamin c suspension.

      1.17.23 Reply
      • Thank you for sharing this! I haven’t had a lot of luck with The Ordinary but it is great to know others have (and I haven’t tried their Vit C!)

        1.17.23 Reply
      • Carrie:

        People also really love the Vitamin C by Timeless and the one by mad hippie if you’d like to try those, Nancy!

        1.17.23 Reply
  2. This post was just perfection! So well organized and easy to follow. I really love how you outline your steps, and create the graphic with clickable links to the products. Thank you, Grace!

    1.17.23 Reply
  3. Liz Percival:

    Great post, Grace! I, too, am dry and dehydrated and only learned somewhat recently that dry skin actually means a lack of oil, versus dehydration for water (duh)… game changer! I use a few drops of oil mixed in with my moisturizer twice a day now.

    I also highly recommend an oil or balm cleanser this time of year as a PM first step to remove makeup and SPF. Farmacy’s is a fave. Some other awesome ingredients I love: glycerin, aloe vera, ceramides, and petrolatum! Jordan Samuel Skin’s Hydrate serum is the best on the market, IMO (introduced to me by Queen Hirons!). Cheers!

    1.17.23 Reply
  4. mary:

    I am constantly trying to balance keeping my dry face and hands adequately moisturized while keeping oils and potions from making my hair greasy and my glasses smudged. The struggle is real!

    1.17.23 Reply
    • Haha the struggle really is real (felt this big time last night watching The Crown with my face all loaded up with oils!!)

      1.17.23 Reply
  5. Susan:

    Thanks for this round up. I’m getting ready for a really long flight in a few days and wonder what you would recommend to put on during the flight? It usually takes my skin a few days to recover and I’d like to avoid that.

    1.17.23 Reply
    • SAME!!! I talked about red eye flights in this blog post – linking in case helpful — https://thestripe.com/tips-for-red-eye-flights-what-i-pack-for-long-flight/

      but here’s what I would do!
      – don’t wear any makeup (maybe a little mascara if you are feeling like you can’t be without it)
      – before flight, use a thick creamy moisture like Bader or the Sobel Skin hyaluronic one.
      – in flight / when you board, spritz your face with a hydrating mist (some favs: caudalie beauty elixir, tata harper floral essence, indie lee has a good one too).
      – Apply a moisturizing mask — the Plenaire one linked would be great but it is more visible. Sisley’s floral mask and Summer Fridays’ Jet Lag mask are more invisible.
      – For extra credit, apply an undereye gel mask like the Bioeffect one I linked OR the Wander Beauty gold ones!

      Please let me know if you have any more questions!!!

      1.17.23 Reply
  6. Maeve:

    This was so helpful (as always). I actually started using the Bioeffect eye gel a few years ago when my dermatologist sent me home with samples and it has been the only thing that truly works to counteract eyelid eczema when it flares. That stuff is magic.

    1.17.23 Reply
  7. Shana:

    Going to try that Bioeffect eye mask, great list and recommendations for this dry season 🙂

    1.17.23 Reply
  8. Sara:

    This post was very helpful!

    1.18.23 Reply
  9. Val:

    Love the routine info. Sometimes I forget the order. I have used the Soy face cleanser for years. It’s the best. I alternate with Elemis balm. I am finally buying the Bader rich cream this weekend.

    Thank you for always putting in so much effort. I look forward to the weekend reading/ list.

    1.20.23 Reply
  10. Alice:

    I like a lot of your recommendations for keeping your skin hydrated. I live in a very wintery part of Canada where over heating indoors and cold weather outdoors is hard on the skin. The only product I have had a problem with was the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid. I’m in my 50s so I consider my skin to be mature, unfortunately the C.T. cream was like a thick paste and my skin broke out so badly I though I was going to have to go to a dermatologist. After a month my skin calmed down but if you have sensitive, mature skin Charlotte Tilbury’s skin cream might not be for you.

    1.20.23 Reply
  11. Christie Lee:

    HI Grace, I don’t see Biossance mentioned in your winter routine. Do you find their products better suited for warmer weather?


    1.22.23 Reply