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Winter Skin Care for Oily, Combination, Dry Skin Routine Essentials and Products (Dermatologist-Cleared)

By Nancy H, PharmD
October 31, 2023
8 minutes

Winter and the cold outdoors can be a challenge for your skin. The cold outdoors and warm indoors demand a special winter skincare routine that is specifically put together for you. Depending on your skin type and issues, you need to carefully put up a skincare routine that helps you fight the winter woes, and keeps your skin hydrated and radiant.  

We are going to discuss this in details below, with everything you need to know from how the winter affects your skin, how to take care of it and the right products/routine for your skin type. So, keep reading!

How Winter Affects Your Skin

Transitioning to winter brings some drastic changes. This chilly, and dry outdoor with warm and dry indoors makes it quite a challenging environment for the skin. You wouldn’t feel much difference if you have oily or normal skin, but that’s not the case with sensitive, mature, and combination skin types. 

The conditions in winter can make your skin feel tight, irritated, and dehydrated. As you lose humidity in the air, you better compensate yourself with the right moisturizer and skincare routine. Keep your skin hydrated and keep it from flaking.

Winter Skin Issues

Winters can be tough for your skin, and it can cause severe conditions. Following, we are going to discuss the 5 most common skin challenges people face in the colder season:

Eczema: It affects millions of people every year. Symptoms are inflamed skin with itchiness or red patches. It’s more of immunity reactions to environmental factors or stress. The Dry and frigid atmosphere can worsen its symptoms.

Psoriasis: This is a chronic condition and symptoms are red, itchy, and scaly patches found on elbows, knees, trunk, and scalp.  It’s incurable but you can manage the symptoms by consulting with a dermatologist and adapting to the cold weather.

Rosacea: This is redness and blushing on the face and it can last for quite a long time.  If you don’t take care of it, this can leave long-lasting damage to your skin and even your eyes. Cold weather often serves as a trigger so be careful. 

Chicken Skin or Keratosis Pilaris: This is a benign condition with dry, rough patches that have tiny bumps. It is often found on arms, legs, and buttocks. These bumps are either skin-toned or reddish, and become more noticeable in the cold weather. 

Raynaud’s Disease:  This causes the blood vessels in the finger and toes to constrict thanks to cold, and stress. This reduces the blood flow, leading to numbness and cold sensations.

How to Adapt Your Skincare According to Winter?

Skin types like combination, sensitive, and oily face unique challenges despite the season. These skin types need to be hydrated but without clogged pores or excessive oiliness. In the cold season, you better pick thick and rich winter skin care products due to the dry conditions. Keep in mind this can be an issue if you have oily or combination skin.

You should try layering up different light to mild products to keep your skin hydrated and nourished, without overwhelming it. 

For this, you can create a winter skincare routine that is suited to your needs. There are a wide array of serums and boosters from which you can choose from. To help you understand this better. Following we are giving you an idea of what a comprehensive winter skincare regime looks like: 

Cleansing: Your skin accumulates more dirt in the cold season, as compared to summer. To keep your skin from getting clogged or dull, you need to clean it a few times. Just use a cleanser recommended for your skin type, and avoid any overly stripping cleanser. Instead, pick something hydrating. Massage the cleanser on your damp skin in circular motions, and rinse with lukewarm water. 

Toning: These are the added layer of hydration (if needed). Once your skin is cleansed, apply the toner (use a cotton pad) and swipe it across your face. 

Exfoliating: Dead skin cells build up faster in winter than in summer, Therefore, regular exfoliation helps keep your skin clean, and lets it absorb other skincare products effectively. Exfoliate 2-3 times a week, depending on your skin type, and go for chemical exfoliates over physical ones. 

Hydration Boost: As the air is dry, your skin needs added hydration. A Hydration boost (when needed) makes sure your skin is resilient against the unforgiving conditions of winter. Apply the serum while your skin is still damp from toning and gently pat for better absorption. 

Serum Application: Serums can address different winter-related skin issues like redness, radiance, and dry patches. Just massage a few drops and press it into your skin. 

Moisturizing: Moisturizers help provide a barrier against cold winds and indoor heating with additional hydration. Use a rich moisturizer, and even spread it across your face and neck. 

Sunscreen: UV rays remain harmful even in winter, so use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 to keep yourself protected. 

Winter Skincare Routine According to Different Skin Types

Winter’s chilly winds, can be enchanting to your mind, but are a bit harsh on your skin. With the temperature dropping, the cold and dry environment takes away your natural moisture, leading to skin issues. This is why you must follow a winter skincare routine tailored according to your skin type. This is why, we are discussing the proper way you can take care of your skin with the right winter skin care products

1. Oily

Cold air dries your skin, prompting the skin to produce more oil in order to make up for the loss. This makes your skin a bit more oily, and this means more shine or acne breakouts if you already have oily skin. 

To counter this, you need non-comedogenic moisturizers, along with gel-based cleansers, and salicylic acid products. Yes, you can start your day with a gentle foaming wash (CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser), and pair it with a light (Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture) moisturizer.  Now put on some salicylic acid products (Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution) to control the oil and acne breakouts, and finish off with a sunscreen.

2. Dry

If you think winter is bad for people with oily skin, then wait to hear what does to people with dry skin. Winter is rather harsh on dry skin and causes flakiness, discomfort, and redness. This is why your winter skincare routine should use products with hyaluronic acid, cream-based cleansers, and rich moisturizers. 

Start your day with soft cleansing (using Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser) and boost your skin’s hydration levels with (La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Serum) at the end, lock with rich moisturizer (Vanicream Moisturizing Cream) and top it off with a good sunscreen.

3. Normal 

Winters are not even kind normal skin as well. Yes, you can expect some oiliness or dry patches even if your skin usually remains balanced. Therefore, add some exfoliation and light moisturizer. So, start your day with a mild face wash (something like Fresh Soy Face Cleanser), and moisturize it (with Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer). Also, don’t forget your sunscreen. 

4. Combination

Winter is tricky for combination skin, as it makes dry zones dryer and oil zones oilier. Therefore, you are better off with a lightweight moisturizer, and gentle exfoliation. Use a balanced cleanser (Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser) as it moisturizes according to different skin zones, exfoliate once a week (use Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, and Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant) and protect it with sunscreen.

5. Sensitive

People with sensitive skin get the worst of it. Be it redness, irritation or flare-ups, you get all of these issues at once. This is why we recommend Fragrance-free products, with soothing ingredients like aloe vera and use mineral sunscreens. Before careful with everything, even if you need to remove hair. We recommend you use IPL for smooth hair removal, try looking at   wide array of at home hair removal devices. 

We recommend a gentle cleanser (Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser), and follow with a calming moisturizer (try the combo of Eucerin Redness Relief Night Crème and EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41), just avoid any harsh exfoliants and go for a mineral sunscreen. 

6. Mature

Mature skin has reduced amounts of natural oils, which makes it fee tighter and dehydrated in the winter. For this, use products with high antioxidants, peptides and retinoid. Remember, deep hydration is the key here.

So, we recommend you clean but don’t dry (use L’Oréal Revitalift Cream Cleanser), and rejuvenate the skin with peptides and antioxidants (like RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum along with Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream), moisturize your skin properly, and protect it with sunscreen.  

What to Avoid?

The routine we shared will get you through the season, with smooth and hydrated skin.  Still, you shouldn’t risk clogging your pores or over-moisturizing your skin. That said, we are going to show you how to avoid common winter skin issues by avoiding some common skincare mistakes:

  • Don’t use absorbent clay masks unless absolutely necessary. Just dab a mattifier over shiny areas, under or over the foundation
  • Avoid using facial cleansing brushes if your skin is flaky. Unless you find a toothbrush with really soft bristles, don’t bother. Why? It’s because you will make things even worse.  Instead, remove the flaky skin with a gentle massage using a warm washcloth, and top it off with a replenishing toner.
  • Never forget the exfoliant, it helps shed flaky skin
  • If your pores are clogged or you have bumpy skin, avoid products that have drying or sensitizing ingredients. These are denatured alcohol, menthol, mint, witch hazel, eucalyptus, etc. These ingredients make the signs of winter damage on your skin even more visible. 

Winter Skincare Tips from Dermatologists

Adjust your skincare routine to fight against harsh cold weather and low humidity. Cold air can make your skin feel dry, irritated, and need of care. To keep your skin healthy, and hydrated, following we are giving you 10 winter skincare tips by dermatologists themselves. 

  • Moisturize Often

Dehydrated skin is among the most prominent winter skin issues. Keep your skin’s moisture and protect it with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and petrolatum, Thick moisturizes are better suited for winters. 

  • Hydrating Cleansers

Don’t use harsh cleansers as they rip your skin off its natural moisture. Instead choose something gentle, hydrating, fragrance-free for your daily use, and to remove makeup. 

  • TLC for Acne

If your skin is prone to acne breakout, use oil and fragrance-free moisturizers that hydrate your skin. This becomes even more important when you are on topical acne medications. 

  • Don’t Take Too Many Hot Showers

Hot showers are tempting in cold weather but they may leave a negating effect on your winter skincare routine. So you better limit them to 15 minutes as they can further dry out your skin. Instead, use lukewarm water as it prevents skin irritation. 

  • Say No to Harsh Scrubs and Scents

Harsh exfoliates and scented products make things worse in cold weather. So, you better choose something unscented and mild for your daily use. 

  • Exfoliate

Light exfoliation is very important if you have dry skin. Don’t use any hard abrasive scrub, instead pick something with lactic acid. This will help keep the skin clean and hydrated. 

  • Sunscreen

Keep your skin protected from UVA Rays even in winters. These rays cause you to age faster and sunburn, especially when the sun reflects off snow. USE SPF 30+ in your daily routine, reapply if you engage in outdoor activities. You better keep an eye on moisturizer with built-in sunscreen and SPF.

  • Sober Up

Alcohol dehydrates your body, so you better limit your alcohol consumption, especially during the holiday season. 

  • Lip Balm

Keep your lips from getting chapped and sunburned. Hydrate your lips with a SPF lip balm throughout the day. Remember to keep one at your disposal at all times. 

  • Stay Away from Skin Irritating Products 

You better keep an eye out for ingredients like retinoid, exfoliating acids, vitamin C, etc. You better adjust their potency as needed and keep your skin from over-drying. Still, you are better off consulting with an expert. 


Winter needs you to do more than just put on warm clothes. You have to tailor your winter skincare routine according to your skin’s demands to make sure it remains healthy and hydrated. Embrace the beauty of this cold season and make changes accordingly so that your skin glows with resilience and health. 

Nancy H, PharmD
I am Nancy a licensed pharmacist with extensive knowledge in the healthcare industry. I enjoy writing on a variety of topics including; disease management, dietary supplements, nutrition, fitness, functional medicine, and lifestyle changes for optimal health. Below is my Linkedin profile
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