Stinging winds, colder temperatures and the ravages of central heating (if you’ve allowed yourself that luxury) can wreak havoc on the skin during colder seasons. All environmental factors can impact the look and feel of our skin but winter, in particular, poses unique challenges as harsher conditions upset the skin’s barrier function. In response our skincare regime needs an update to combat the fluctuating climates. Never fear, though, on hand are award-winning aesthetic doctors Dr Sophie Shotter and Dr Parisha Acharya who share their seven tips for the best winter skin of your life.
The non-negotiable step
Even when it’s miserable outside, SPF is a must. “The UVA levels over winter are pretty much as high as over the summer months,” confirms Dr Shotter, who believes in adding a coat of SPF after moisturising (and before putting on your makeup).
“Sunscreen is your ultimate anti-ageing product. It helps defend against skin cancer, pre-cancerous changes, and promotes skin health by maintaining collagen and elastin that act as scaffolds for our skin,” adds Dr Acharya, a facial aesthetics specialist in London. Both experts recommend Heliocare 360° Fluid Cream (3) (heliocare.co.uk; £28), but Teoxane Advanced Perfecting Shield SPF30 (teoxane.com; £52) and Horace’s mattifying face moisturiser SPF30 (9) (horace.co; £22) are great options, too. As non-comedogenic formulations, they give great coverage without blocking pores and causing breakouts — meaning there’s no excuse to miss this step.
Pick your fighter
If there’s something you want to tackle, from blemishes to dullness, now’s the time to do it. “Over summer we are often a little cautious as active ingredients can make us more sun sensitive,” says Dr Shotter. Take advantage of the cloudy skies and introduce products which have higher concentrations of active ingredients. But remember, only use one, not all at once, to avoid unnecessary irritation.
Farmacy’s Waterless 10% Vitamin C (farmacylondon.com; £48) will help heal blemishes, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum (theordinary.com; £10) will guarantee brighter skin, and Mantle’s recently launched Rebound Serum (mantle.co.uk; £80) includes hydrating Hyaluronic acid and CBD ingredients that promote gleaming skin. Use daily in the evening after cleansing (but before moisturising) for at least three months to see proper results.
Antioxidant serums are also a must in your skincare routine. “They help protect your skin from environmental stressors that cause free radical damage such as UV light and pollution,” explains Dr Acharya, who recommends using either Obagi Pro C 20%, ALL SKIN MED Radiance gel (6) (obagi.com; £91) or PCA skin vitamin B3 Brightening serum (pcaskin.co.uk; £105) once daily in the morning followed by your favourite SPF.
Be a skincare stripper
“To maintain a summer glow in winter, you need to exfoliate the dead skin cells from the surface,” says Dr Shotter. The absence of strong sunshine also makes it a great time to increase the use of AHAs, which help strip away the surface of your skin so that new, more evenly pigmented skin cells may generate. Dr Shotter recommends SkinCeuticals Glycolic Overnight Renew (skinceuticals.co.uk; £80) or Medik8’s Press & Glow (medik8.com; £28) for a gentler PHA backed product. Ranvat Imperial Glow Facial Polish (4) (cultbeauty.co.uk; £45) includes finely milled rice powder and nourishing almond oil to leave skin smooth and refreshed. Alternatively, invest in a professional facial such as Dr Acharya’s GlowGetter SkinCocktail that uses a specialised 24 carat needling device to inject a blend of hyaluronic acid, vitamins and antioxidants for deeper exfoliation.
Build that barrier
“I’m a big fan of adding slightly richer ingredients to our winter regimes — ceramides and lipids are key here,” says Dr Shotter. For a super nourishing cleanser, try the Soho Skin Cream Cleanser (sohoskin.com; £55). The cream-to-foam formula is super hydrating thanks to a blend of oat amino acids and prebiotics, but still leaves skin squeaky clean. Then, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial cream (kiehls.co.uk, £29) or Dr Barbara Sturm Face cream (drsturm.com; £50) and Oodee’s hero Nova Illuminating Moisturiser (8) (oodee.com; £55) are all great for locking in moisture and decrease trans-epidermal water loss. For those wanting to splurge, Costa Brazil’s Óleo Para A Face Kaya oil (7) (livecostabrazil.com; £115) is packed with barrier-building lipids. And for heavenly scented body lotion try Byredo Body Lotion Mohave Ghost (2) (byredo.com; £47).
Up the retinoid ante
Winter is an excellent time to up your retinoid use. They have been hailed as a miracle products thanks to their all-round anti-ageing, antioxidant and cellular renewal properties. “Retinoids increase our sun sensitivity, and so some skin types struggle with them over the summer,” says Dr Shotter. This winter don’t skip out on Nóttnuit EVEN Radiance Face Serum (1) (nottnuit.com; £116), Soho Skin Renewal Serum (5) (sohoskin.com; £76) and Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment (paulaschoice.co.uk; £58). However, if you haven’t used retinoids before, it takes a while to acclimatise skin. Dr Acharya says be gradual — apply the product once a week at night for the first few weeks, before bumping it up to every other day to achieve amazing results without compromising your skin’s barrier function.
If you’re prone to redness over the winter months then Dr Shotter recommends adding in a product such as the SkinCeuticals Redness Neutralizer (skinceuticals; £65) or La Roche-Posay Rosaliac UV Riche Anti-Redness Moisturiser (laroche-posay.co.uk; £17.50). Both help decrease the skin’s vascularity and take away that winter flush
Dr. Jart+’s Cicapair Tiger Grass collection has become the go-to brand for combatting skin redness thanks to its holy grail ingredient of Centella Asiatica (also known as tiger grass). Derived from a herb that grows in Asia’s wetland, the Korean range provides a soothing effect while also enhancing the skin’s structure and yielding a protective barrier. Their Colour Correcting Treatment (drjart.co.uk; £16) and Tiger Grass Re.pair Serum (drjart.co.uk; £34) are TikTok cult faves.
Take the life-saving step
For Dr Shotter, a mole check should be part of your body’s annual maintenance regime and winter is the perfect time to do it. “Problem moles can appear anywhere on the body from our scalps to our genitals, to the soles of our feet,” she says. “I like to get everything checked professionally to make sure there’s nothing I need to be concerned about, especially in an area I can’t see for myself.”
In between annual appointments, a useful guide to self-assess your moles is the ABCDE (asymmetry, border, colour, diameter, evolving) rule, recommends Dr Acharya, who agrees that if you have any concerns you should urgently see your GP or dermatologist.