The ideal winter skincare routine

The ideal winter skincare routine



Cosy knitwear, crisp snowy mornings and hot chocolate by the fire – there are many comforts and joys of winter, but dry, itchy, irritated skin? Not so much. ‘When the temperature drops, your skin is attacked on two fronts,’ explains Dr. Michelle Henry, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. ‘Once it’s cold outside, there’s more moisture in your skin than the air, so the air just leeches your moisture. Then, you walk indoors and the dry heat does the same thing.’ Preparing your skin with a few smart skincare tweaks is the best way to stay glowing all season long.


Read on for our expert guide to skincare in winter, including a few simple switches that’ll help protect and strengthen your skin barrier for healthy, happy skin – whatever winter throws at you.


What is the best skin care routine for winter?

Firstly, you don’t need an entirely new routine for winter. Consistency is key with skincare, so instead of completely switching things up, make a few small routine tweaks. You can still follow the same steps you usually do – cleanse, exfoliate, serum, eye cream, moisturiser and SPF – but you may wish to switch out a few of your usual formulas for more hydrating, nourishing alternatives in the colder months.


What causes dry skin in winter? 

‘We lose more moisture from the skin in the winter as the environment is drier and less humid. This means that the skin is more likely to feel drier and tighter,’ explains London-based Consultant Dermatologist Dr. Angela Tewari. ‘Also, we tend to drink less water over winter as we sweat less, but it is still important to maintain hydration as that indirectly will help the texture of our skin.  So, try to drink as much water as you do in summer if possible – this can be tricky, so I often suggest switching one caffeinated drink for a herbal tea.’


What is the difference between a summer and winter skin care routine?

The main difference between a summer and winter skin care routine is that skin tends to get a little drier in winter, so your skin may be calling out for comforting, richer textures. This is because winter’s cooler weather and temperature changes – cold outside, hot and dry inside – can be pretty hard on the skin. Whatever your usual skin type, it’s not uncommon to experience dry skin in winter, alongside redness, tightness, flaking and discomfort. For most, winter skin just needs a little extra TLC.


What causes redness and rosacea flare ups in winter?

‘The fluctuating temperatures in the winter and the changes in humidity can exacerbate redness – often the air in winter is cold and dry, causing significant water loss from the skin, then coming indoors into the heat allows further water loss,’ Dr. Tewari tells Clinique. The solution? ‘I suggest a cream-based formulation that contains glycerin or a humectant like hyaluronic acid – these enable the skin to become more hydrated and that will smooth inflammation.’ 


If redness is your primary skin concern during the winter months, we recommend our Redness Solutions range, which is designed specifically for sensitive, irritated skin and is safe for skin with rosacea. Switch your usual cleanser for the Redness Solutions Soothing Cleanser, which gently melts away makeup and impurities without drying out the skin, and your everyday moisturiser for Daily Relief Cream – an extra-gentle, oil-free cream that helps to soothe and hydrate, while calming the appearance of visible redness. Use the entire regimen – including the Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF 15 and Redness Solutions Makeup SPF 15 – to see an immediate improvement in the look of redness.


What skincare products do I need for winter?

Cream moisturisers, nourishing masks and hydrating essences are a few great winter skin saviours to add to your daily rotation. Depending on your skin type and concerns, we have a selection of richer moisturisers that are perfect for the winter months. Moisture Surge™ Intense 72H Lipid-Replenishing Hydrator is a nourishing cream-gel hydrator that delivers an instant moisture boost with barrier-strengthening lipids, soothing cica, activated aloe vera water and moisture-binding hyaluronic acid, while our Smart Clinical Repair™ Lifting Face + Neck Cream is ideal for mature skin, intensely hydrating with jojoba oil and hyaluronic acid, while fortifying multi-peptides help reduce the look of lines and wrinkles.


A pampering mask is another winter skincare step to add to your rotation. Once or twice a week, apply Moisture Surge™ Overnight Mask as the final step in your night-time skincare routine. This intensely creamy, hydrating face mask is packed with murumuru butter, activated aloe vera water and panthenol to deeply moisturise and comfort skin while you sleep.


Do I need a different moisturiser for winter?

This depends on your skin type, however most of us will experience drier skin in winter, so you may wish to switch to a richer texture. Head to our Clinique moisturiser guide to find the ideal one for your skin type or book in for a complimentary Skin School consultation with of our own skincare experts.


What ingredients are best for winter skin?

Hydrating, fortifying ingredients are ideal for restoring, nourishing and protecting winter skin. Here are a few to look out for:


• Hyaluronic acid.
Not just for winter – hyaluronic acid is the ultimate moisture-binding and boosting ingredient. You'll find it in many Clinique heroes, including our bestselling Moisture Surge™ range. It helps to lock in moisture for plump, healthy, hydrated skin.


• Glycerin.
A hero ingredient in our iconic Dramatically Different™ Moisturising Lotion, glycerin is great for dry skin in winter, as it helps skin retain moisture, keeping it strong, soft and smooth. It also helps shield skin from external stressors like harsh wintry temperatures.


• Panthenol.
A B5 provitamin, panthenol acts as both an emollient and a humectant, thanks to its moisture-binding properties. A star ingredient in our Moisture Surge™ mask, it helps to soothe inflammation and irritation, ideal for anyone experiencing increased sensitivity in the winter months.


• Cica (Centella Asiatica).
Cica is a leafy green herb rich in fatty acids, vitamins and amino acids. Known for its soothing, calming and restorative properties, cica has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat redness and inflammation. 


• Lactobacillus Probiotic Ferment.

There's a lot of talk about probiotic skincare, particularly for those of us who experience inflammation such as acne and rosacea. Probiotic skincare is believed to help soothe, calm and re-balance inflamed skin. A key ingredient in our bestselling Redness Solutions range, our lactibacillus probiotic ferment helps visibly calm and comfort skin, supporting the skin's natural barrier to protect from environmental irritants. "Using a moisturiser with probiotic technology helps to visibly soothe your skin, calm redness and irritation, and maintain balance, similar to how taking a probiotic helps your gut," explains Dr. Michelle Henry. 


Vitamin C, squalane, peptides and ceramides are a few other active ingredients to note in winter. In terms of ingredients to avoid, steer clear of alcohol-based products as these can strip the skin of essential oils, exacerbating dryness.


Winter skincare tips

• Make sure you choose a gentle cleanser.
‘It’s important to not contribute to the dryness by using a cleanser that strips additional moisture from the skin,’ explains Dr. Henry. To help diminish dry skin in winter, switch to a soft cleanser that provides a thorough cleanse without stripping the skin. A dermatologist favourite: Liquid Facial Soap Extra Mild gently removes makeup, while also moisturising skin and soothing any irritation.


• Don’t skip the SPF.

‘Sunscreen is just as important in the winter. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold – if there’s daylight, there’s UV, and that’s what causes the damage,’ notes Dr. Henry. Use a daytime moisturiser with at least SPF 25, such as Moisture Surge™ SPF 25 Sheer Hydrator, which is also packed with hydrating, nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe vera bio-ferment. Alternatively, add a separate SPF 50 (like Superdefense™ City Block SPF 50 Daily Energy + Face Protector) to your winter skin care routine as a final step before makeup.


• Keep a hydrating lip balm on standby.

‘Lips are defenseless against winter because they can’t produce oil to protect themselves and they are always exposed,’ explains Dr. Henry. That’s why they’re constantly dry and chapped throughout the season. For particularly dry lips, try a two-pronged strategy to de-flake and hydrate. Gently massage 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula all over lips to slough off dead skin, then rinse. Follow up with a pampering, ultra-hydrating lip treatment to nourish and protect from the elements. Our top pick? Moisture Surge™ Lip Hydro-Plump Treatment.


• If you are noticing increased sensitivity, skip the actives. 

Active ingredients like retinoids and exfoliating acids work wonders for the skin, however if you're experiencing winter sensitivity, your skin needs a softer approach. ‘I love a retinoid, however in winter I think it is important to keep to three top ingredients: urea and ceramides to retain moisture in the skin, hyaluronic acid to help maintain your skin barrier and sometimes niacinamide, depending on skin type,' says Dr Tewari. ‘I tend to hold off using exfoliation and actives [with sensitive skin], as you want to reduce skin turnover. If anything, you want the skin to slow down and replenish itself. I like cooling skin care with aloe vera and hyaluronic acid.’


• Add an eye cream to your regime.

Cold, dry winter air is particularly troublesome for the thin, fragile skin around the eye area, which already lacks hydration. Replenishing moisture will help smooth and plump the under-eye area and reduce the look of dark circles, which can appear even darker when skin is dehydrated. The solution? All About Eyes™ Rich is a gel-based, lipid-rich treatment dermatologist developed to deliver maximum hydration and repair the delicate skin around the eyes. Another tip: use a non-drying makeup remover or cleansing balm and be extra careful not to pull or tug the skin around the eyes.


Need more help creating your ideal winter skincare routine? Book in for a complimentary Skin School consultation, led by one of our own specially trained skin experts. Following your initial consultation, we'll offer you 15% off* your next order with Clinique. 


* T&Cs apply. 

Shop winter skin essentials:

Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion+, Dermatologist-developed formula that supports a stronger moisture barrier for healthier looking skin.
125ml (With pump)
50ml (bottle)
50ml (Tube)
All About Eyes™ Rich, Rich eye cream instantly diminishes the look of under-eye circles, darkness and fine lines.