Best Winter Skincare Products: Cleansers, Moisturizers, and More

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell

What are the best winter skincare products? Well, I’m no scientist, but I am a woman over 50 who has tried lots and lots of them! Today I’m sharing my tried-and-true favorite products.

Harsh, dry winter air is no friend of skin, and I know I’m not alone in struggling to keep my skin hydrated and supple during the winter months. But the cold air isn’t the only culprit. Simply aging makes skin more susceptible to dryness. According to Dermatologist Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD, fewer natural oils, sun damage, and decreased cell renewal all lead to dry, rougher skin as we get older. Loss of hormones can also play a role.

As we age, our skincare products need to change. I’ve also found that mine also need to change with the seasons! Have you found that too? In general, my winter skincare products are heavier, creamier, and full of some key ingredients that help with skin cell turnover.

Essential Ingredients to Look For

Ceramides

Ceramides are one of nine lipids naturally present in the top layer of the skin. This lipid prevents the skin from losing moisture. Skincare products containing ceramides can help replace lipids lost due to chronic dryness and environmental factors.

Peptides

Peptides are chains of amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins in the skin. Collagen, one of those proteins, gives skin thickness and suppleness. When collagen breaks down in the skin (naturally from age and environmental factors like the UV rays), wrinkles form. When peptides are applied topically to the skin, it signals collagen to produce.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid works by drawing moisture from the air to keep your skin moist. It holds almost 1000 times its weight in water. Typically, hyaluronic acid molecules are too large to penetrate the skin’s surface (those larger ones are in injectable fillers), but scientists have found a way to lower the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid and put it into topical products. There, it makes its way through the skin’s top layers, temporarily plumping and moisturizing skin.

Best Winter Skincare Products: A Word About Exfoliation

One thing that has always seemed counterintuitive to me (but it’s not if you think about it!) is that skin needs to exfoliation to be well-moisturized. Simply put, detaching dead skin cells can amplify the results of your other products because they don’t have to get through flaky, dead skin cells to do their work.

That’s why I was thrilled when Tula recently launched their Take Care + Polish Body Exfoliator. (I talked about it in THIS recent Instagram post.) It buffs away dull skin using lemon peel and hibiscus flower acid, improving the look of skin texture and tone—and also contains three different AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) to help skin appear brighter. (AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits.) If you want to try it, be sure to use my exclusive ENB discount code 15SUZY for 15% off.

Tula also carries a facial scrub, which I’ve used. But for facial exfoliation, I much prefer Philosophy’s Microdelivery 2-Step Resurfacing Peel. It does a fantastic job and leaves my skin baby soft. I buy it from Amazon, but you can click HERE if you prefer to purchase it directly from the brand.

Best Winter Skincare Products: Cleansers

The problem with cleansing your skin is that you want to remove dirt, pollutants, and makeup at the end of the day, but you don’t want to dry it out or strip it of moisture! So in the winter months, I opt for richer products that get my skin clean, without leaving it dry and thirsty.

Face

I use Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil in the evening to remove my makeup and wash off the day’s grime. A long-time fan of the brand (Their Rhubarb Lip Shimmer is my go-to red lipstick!), this cleansing oil is made with a blend of coconut and argan oil.

I was a huge skeptic at first! It was hard to believe that it would cleanse thoroughly, rinse away with water, and leave skin with no greasy residue. But it works! It takes off my makeup and leaves my skin soft and smooth. I buy it from Amazon, but if you’d rather purchase it right from the brand, you can do that HERE.

If you prefer a non-oil-based cleanser, you might like CeraVe SA Cleanser, which is my warmer weather go-to face wash. The SA stands for Salicylic Acid, a type of beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that removes dead skin cells and promotes radiance. 

Body

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the skin on my body really dries up in the winter! On the advice of an older friend with beautiful skin, I started using L’Occitane Cleansing & Softening Almond Shower Oil about two years ago and never looked back! It’s enriched with Almond Oil, and when it comes in contact with water, it somehow morphs into a milky lotion cleanser. A bonus perk: It smells divine!

I love it so much that I use it year-round! I use the large pump for convenience and purchase THESE refill pouches to replenish it when I’m out of product. If you want to try it, I’d suggest THIS 8.4 oz. size from Amazon. If you’d rather purchase from Ulta, click HERE.

Hands

You can probably see a pattern now! I’m a fan of oil-based cleansers in the winter months! Once the cold weather hits, I swap out all of the liquid soap in our household soap dispensers with Dr. Bronner’s – Pure-Castile Liquid Soap. These plant-based soaps are biodegradable and use all-natural, organic ingredients.

They’re highly concentrated, so I suggest you dilute them. Our favorite scent is invigorating peppermint, but I’m linking to THIS 4 oz. sample pack so you can find out which scent you prefer.

Best Winter Skincare Products: Moisturizers

Moisturizing your skin is critical in the winter months! I slather on all of these products within five minutes of getting out of the shower! I want to lock in all of the water molecules before they completely evaporate.

Face

Last January, when I met with Dr. Lori Stetler from the Dallas Center for Dermatology & Aesthetics, she put together an ideal skincare regimen for women over 50. She also gifted me with all the products she recommended in exchange for the post. I used the products until they ran out and then repurchased the ones I truly loved.

One of my very favorites was (and still is) SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator. You use it under your regular moisturizer. (Dr. Stetler said to think of it as a moisturizer primer, which, honestly, made me immediately skeptical 😂.) But it works! (I almost wish it didn’t, because it’s not cheap!) It’s made with five types of hydrators and peptides that work in conjunction with your everyday moisturizer to provide up to eight hours of continuous hydration. I love this product and have heard from several ENB followers who love it too.

The rich moisturizer I use in the winter is SkinMedica Replenish Hydrating Cream. (Another Dr. Stetler recommendation.) I like using products from the same line when I can because I know they’re made to work together for maximum effectiveness. This cream contains Chamomile-derived bisabolol to condition, green tea to prevent free radical damage, Vitamin C to brighten, and glycerin to lock in moisture.

For my eye area, I use Neocutis LUMIÈRE® FIRM RICHE Extra Moisturizing Illuminating Tightening Eye Cream. (A mouthful of a name, I know!) I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it’s yet another Dr. Stetler recommendation that I repurchased and continue to use. It contains human growth factors and peptides, to smooth and improve the texture of the delicate skin around the eye. My crepey undereye skin is gone!

Body

On my body, I use AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion. It contains clinically proven 12% lactic acid to gently exfoliate and boost the skin’s natural renewal process while deeply moisturizing. Lactic Acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) used to exfoliate, lighten dark spots, and improve fine lines and wrinkles. I love that it’s not greasy and fast-absorbing. I buy it from Amazon, but if you prefer to buy it from Target, click HERE.

I get bumps around my ankles and sometimes my elbows. Do you? For those spots, I use CeraVe Renewing SA Cream. (It’s also available as a lighter-weight lotion.) It’s made especially for those dry, scaly, or rough and bumpy patches on legs or upper arms. It gently exfoliates to help soften and smooth, absorbs quickly, and has a non-greasy feel.

Hands

They say that hindsight is 20/20, and I sure wish I’d followed my mom’s advice and cared for my neck, décolletage, and hands as well as I’ve cared for my face! Hands are the worst! They’re often one of the first areas to show a woman’s age. Mine look pretty terrible!

I use City Beauty’s Restoring Hand Treatment throughout the day on my hands. It’s made with Micro-algae that helps smooth the look of wrinkles and a botanical extract blend to hydrate and lighten dark spots. Be sure to use the promo code EMPTYNESTBLESSED for 15% off on your entire City Beauty purchase if you want to try it.

Before bed, I slather on L’Occitane’s Shea Butter Hand Cream. It’s enriched with 20% shea butter, and it’s the world’s best-selling hand cream. One tube is sold every two seconds! I feel like it’s a little too creamy for all-day, everyday use, but it’s perfect for nighttime. I buy it from Amazon, but if you prefer to buy it from Ulta, click HERE.

Best Winter Skincare Products: Others

  • For the skin on my neck, my year round go-to moisturizing product is Nectifirm. (Watch for an upcoming post on caring for your neck and décolletage.)
  • This little humidifier sits right on my bedside table! It’s really helped my skin stay moist throughout the night. (Plus, no more waking up with a dry, scratchy throat!)
  • My poor cuticles get so dry and even crack sometimes in the winter! I use Cuccio Cuticle Butter Stick on them before bed (when I remember!). I like that it won’t leave an oily stain, like cuticle oil can.
  • I love a good soak in a hot tub (especially in the chilly winter months), but I know my baths can dry out my skin. I’m not about to give them up any time soon, so I try to offset the damage by using Dr Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution/Foaming Bath made with Shea Butter & Almond Oil. I buy THIS “gift set” from Amazon that contains both the epsom salt and the bubble bath, so I can use whichever I’m in the mood for!

By the way, I know you know (but it probably bears repeating!) — one of the most important things you can do to hydrate your skin is to drink more water. Want to know how much is ideal, and how to offset all that caffeine we all love so much? Check out my post called How Much Water Should You Drink a Day. It features a link to a personalized hydration calculator that can help you figure out exactly how much water you need.

If you like Amazon, be sure to visit the Empty Nest Blessed page on Amazon! It’s full of gift guides, favorite products, even things like a list of college student First Aid must-haves! I linked all of the products we talked about today in this Winter Skincare list up on the Amazon page for your convenience.

I’d love to know your go-to products for winter skin survival! Please leave me a comment and let me know your favorites, okay?

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Suzy Mighell

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2 Comments

  1. I have started running a full size humidifier every night in our room on high- that has really helped with the dry, itchy skin!!!

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