Five Rules for Glowy Winter Skin.


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.

Recommended Products:

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.

Recommended Products: 

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?)

Recommended Products: Clarins Total Eye Concentrate // La Prairie Essence of Caviar Eye Complex

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.

Recommended Products: SK-II Sheet Mask // SK-II Signs Eye Mask // Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask // Tata Harper Moisturizing Mask // Sisley Black Rose Mask


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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.

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What are your own skincare rules?

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Thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post.

Leave a Comment


  1. Annie Reeves says 2.3.15

    I’m obsessed with skincare products, but I never know where to start. This is so helpful!! I used to use an eye cream and reaaaally need to start back.

  2. Caitlin says 2.3.15

    Yay I’m so happy you shared all your tips! Your skin really is amazing, and I’m so excited to try these products! Thanks 🙂
    xo, Caitlin

  3. nikki says 2.3.15

    Thank you for this fantastic post! I am going to have to try the SK-II face mask and the Tata Harper’s resurfacing mask! Love these recommendations!

    • graceatwood says 2.3.15

      they are both game changers! If you do try, please let me know what you think! xx

  4. LoveCompassionateLee says 2.3.15

    Great tips! I definitely agree with appreciating one’s own skin tone and washing one’s face daily.
    Happy Tuesday 🙂

  5. Alexandra says 2.3.15

    Love this! I started using Chanel’s eye cream last month (I’m 22) and the short term results are immediate and definitely give me a dewy look. Thank you for reminding me to take good care of my skin!

    Warm Regards,

  6. Matheson says 2.3.15

    I love your skin care posts! At my last facial she recommended a Eminence exfoliate. Have you had any experience with this brand?

    Thank you!!

    • graceatwood says 2.3.15

      Hi! I haven’t ever heard of it! I will have to take a look at their line! xx

  7. Emily B. | @FlourMagnolia says 2.3.15

    Love all your tips, but alas, I’m an oily/breakout prone skin girl. Do you know who your skincare muse equivalent would be? Or could share what one of your shinier : ) friends use? I would love the same play by play your provide for dry-skinned gals for my skin type.

  8. Katherine - Engineering In Style says 2.3.15

    I agree – pale is pretty! It really annoys me when people say I should tan or fake tan. I’m Irish, we are supposed to be pale!

  9. Eden says 2.3.15

    Great tips, using a face oil is essential for my dry winter skin. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Emilee says 2.3.15

    Thanks for these tips! I battle with dull skin in the winter, but I don’t think I’ve been exfoliating enough. I’m really eager to try an oil cleanser too, so thanks for these great recommendations!

  11. Lindsay Ava says 2.3.15

    I loved reading this! I think I need to go use my facemask now! Even though it was somewhat in my plan already. I have very pale skin and struggle a little with it as people will even say I´m too pale. I think I just need to actually see the Sun occasionally, not get a tan, but just a glow. Moisturizers and eye creams have become my best friend too! Aswell as facemasks 🙂

  12. Grace says 2.3.15

    This post is so helpful! I suffer from dry skin too and love all your recommendations. I’ve never heard of the double cleanse but I’ll have to try it. I’m obsessed with slathering my face with Avene Cicalfate after using my Clarisonic at night, it’s been amazing for keeping my skin hydrated this winter!

  13. Vanessa says 2.3.15

    My skin has also been SO dry lately, so this post was definitely welcome. I think I need to buy some masks/exfoliators that are more moisturizing, because the ones I have right now seem to dry out my skin even more. I just started using an eye cream that I got as a free sample, but when it’s done I think I’m going to try a natural one… I wanted to try the One Love one you mentioned a while ago? I also need to start using a face oil or serum.
    Have you heard of Skoah products ? I’m kind of obsessed right now… It’s a Canadian company, but I think I remember reading that they have some US stores as well.
    I’ve also embraced my paleness this year… I used to use way more bronzer than was necessary!

  14. Sarah Lagen says 2.3.15

    Hearing you say that pale is pretty feels great — I’m a long time fair and pale skin girl! I’ve been trying to embrace it more this winter! I think you are right about keeping up with eyebrows and lipstick! Great post!

  15. DRAMA says 2.3.15

    Great tips! Thanks for post!

  16. Sarah says 2.4.15

    Grace-great picks! Thanks for sharing. You HAVE to go get an Eminence facial and try some of their products–it absolutely does not get more natural or organic. Everything is awesome, but the Vanilla Day Cream and Facial Recovery Oil are game changers 🙂

  17. Cristina says 2.4.15

    Would love to try that rose face oil.

  18. Elizabeth says 2.4.15

    I love this!! And I completely agree – pale is beautiful 🙂

  19. Jackie (York Avenue) says 2.4.15

    Great post Grace! I need to try some of the moisturizing products you mentioned. Thanks for saying “pale is pretty” – I really feel like people need to get on board with that! I have the palest skin EVER and seriously despised it my entire life, but I’m finally starting to embrace it. When I see pale skin on celebs like Emma Stone and Jessica Chastain, I think it’s absolutely gorgeous and so refreshing, just because it’s something the least bit unique in a world where everyone seems to strive to look the same. Like you said, if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone complain about how pasty pale they are (when they’re actually about ten shades tanner than me!), I could quit my day job. Great point about pale skin needing to be super hydrated, that’s just the motivation I needed to upgrade my moisturizing routine!