How to Combat Dry, Itchy Skin This Winter

Updated 11/20/18

Proper skincare is near and dear to our hearts. Then winter comes, and we have to store away our favorite light lotions and super cleansers in favor of a gentler, more hydrating bunch. But it’s hard to know what products you should use and when, which—drumroll, please—brings me to the official unveiling of our guide to surviving that dry, windy air with ease. Below, behold everything you need to know about winter skincare and the products for getting it right.

itchy winter skin: face
Hallie Gould

Step 1: Cleanse

"It's always the first step, regardless of season, but because it's wintertime, this step should be shorter than normal and with super-gentle cleansers so as not to strip the moisture barrier. Winter brings dry and less-humid air, meaning the moisture usually is drawn from your skin throughout the day, leading to dry, scaly and itchy skin (i.e. winter itch). Combat that by using gentle non-foaming cleaners and lukewarm water (hot water strips more moisture). I suggest the classic Dove Beauty Bar." — Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group

Dove Beauty Bar
Dove Beauty Bar $10

"I follow a double-cleansing ritual where I use an oil-based cleanser first, like Elizabeth Arden's  ($36), and then an exfoliating cleanser like Cure's  ($39), which is a water-based chemical peel. It's gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin. Your complexion looks radiant when it's smooth enough to reflect light. But when dead cells pile up, the flaky layers can diffuse that light, making skin look dull. Exfoliation can slough off that buildup in the shower." — Dendy Engelman of Manhattan Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery

Face Cleanser 8 oz/ 237 mL
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Replenishing Cleansing Oil $36 $10

"Especially during winter, your skin needs are different than in the spring or summer. Make sure your cleanser is ultra-gentle and hydrating so you can effectively cleanse without damaging the barrier. I recommend First Aid Beauty's  ($20)." — Joshua Zeichner of Mount Sinai Hospital

Face Cleanser 8 oz/ 237 mL
First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser $32

Step 2: Moisturize

"We usually need a lighter moisturizer during hotter months. Wintertime deserves a heavier, more moisturizing product. Rather than using lotions, step up to creams—both the face and the body can use similar products here—like CeraVe's  ($17), which has ceramides, or Neutrogena's  ($17), which has hyaluronic acid. Both ceramides and hyaluronic acid help the skin to maintain more moisture and help keep a healthy skin barrier to decrease water loss." — Rachel Nazarian

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream $17

"While we can't change the temperature, we can adjust the way we face it (pun intended). One way is to keep exposed areas as covered as possible (gloves, scarf, earmuffs, and a face mask); slather on a thicker moisturizer to provide a barrier, like Environ's  ($128); don’t stay out for extended periods of time (take ski breaks); and drink water!" — Dendy Engelman

Environ Intensive Avance DFP 312 $140

"The skin in the wintertime may need an extra boost of hydrating ingredients. Look for hyaluronic acid, which is a super-humectant, an ingredient that pulls water into the parched outer skin layers. Apply the product to damp skin to help provide extra moisture. It gives an added plumping benefit, which can minimize the appearance of fine lines. I recommend SkinMedica's  ($178)." — Joshua Zeichner

SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator $178

"If really dry, flaky skin on the arms and legs is an issue, look for an intensive moisturizing lotion that contains urea, to help gently exfoliate the flakes and hydrate the smooth skin underneath." — Elizabeth Tanzi of Capital Laser & Skin Care

"Just because it's winter doesn't mean your anti-aging regimen should take a back seat. But it may need some tweaking: Retinoids tend to dry out skin and make it difficult to use when the temperature drops. I usually have patients decrease usage to three times weekly. Switch off between a product like Neutrogena's  ($8) and an anti-aging product with primarily antioxidants and extracts, like Revision's  ($90)." — Rachel Nazarian 

Revision DEJ Face Cream $90

"I wear sunblock indoors and outdoors. Just because you're inside doesn't mean you're fully protected from rays. Cancer-causing UVA rays can cut through window glass, so I make sure to always swear an antioxidant serum under my SPF. I like SkinCeuticals'  ($166) and Colorescience's  ($65)." — Dendy Engelman

Colorescience Sunforgettable Loose Mineral Sunscreen $65

"A humidifier in the bedroom at night is a must." — Elizabeth Tanzi

itchy winter skin: body

Step 1: Cleanse

"Don't take too hot of a shower or bath, because it strips the oils from the skin." — Elizabeth Tanzi

"Exfoliating scrubs can be harsh or abrasive, especially if you have skin lesions. I suggest limiting exfoliations to once or twice a week." — Dendy Engelman

"Your body is at a higher risk of getting dried out than your face because of daily wear and tear. The wrong soap in the shower can cause problems by further stripping the skin of essential oils that work to lock in hydration. Choose a soap-free cleanser with hydrating ingredients." — Joshua Zeichner

Step 2: Moisturize

"I rotate magnesium oil, Weleda's  ($17), and Bio-Oil and use it right after I shower. In the winter, I add a heavier moisturizer as well, like Cetaphil's  ($16). Apply the product when your skin is damp, as the glycerin in your moisturizer can trap moisture. When it comes to anything body, I like to divide the body in three sections for product application: face, neck, arms, front torso and back, feet, and legs." — Dendy Engelman

Weleda Wild Rose Body Oil $17

"Moisturize the body with a product that contains either hyaluronic acid, shea butter, or ceramides and consider using an in-shower moisturizer like Eucerin's  ($36) to help lock the hydration into the skin even before getting out of the shower." — Elizabeth Tanzi

Eucerin Hyaluron Filler $40

"While heavy ointments can help dry skin, many people find them to be sticky and uncomfortable. As an alternative, try an oil, which is quickly absorbed into the skin and has soothing and hydrating properties, like Bio-Oil's  ($9)." — Joshua Zeichner

Bio-Oil Skincare Oil $9

Step 3: Protect

"I like to add a teaspoon of ReserveAge's  ($16) to my green juice or water. Ingesting bioactive collagen peptide decreases the appearance of crow's-feet by 20% in four months."

ReserveAge Collagen Replenish Powder $16

For more on skincare, check out this .

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