Winter Skin Saviors

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Gentle cleansers and moisturizing products are recommended in winter. | Photo by Julia Zavalishina/

Local professionals reveal how to soothe dry skin this season and renew your radiance.

By Elycia Rubin


While Southern California is revered for its predominantly sunny skies, winter does bring brushes of brisk weather. The cooler temperatures offer plenty of satisfying perks, such as indulgent creamy hot beverages, plush cashmere sweaters and cozy nights by the fireplace. This chillier time of year is also fraught with dry air, and skin that was once dewy and plump suddenly appears dull and devoid of that quintessential beachy glow.

“The air outside is dry and less humid during winter, leading to drier skin,” says Dr. Adrienne O’Connell, medical director and president of Laguna Beach Aesthetics. Mix in a high dose of cranking the thermostat and you have a breeding ground for redness and fine lines.

“Cold, dry weather also causes transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which is basically water evaporating from the surface of the skin,” says Kimberly Ward, aesthetician and owner of Serenity Skin Care. “This compromises the natural barrier of the skin and can result in an increase in irritation.”

From chapped lips to rough hands, winter skin woes affect everyone. “Most people will benefit from an added boost of hydration during the winter months,” Ward says.

Fortunately, just a few simple tweaks to your daily routine will help keep your face and body soft and supple all season long. Here, Laguna-based skin care authorities reveal how.

Kimberly Ward_credit Wendy Christine Photography
Kimberly Ward, aesthetician and owner of Serenity Skin Care, performs a signature facial treatment. | Photo by Wendy Christine Photography

Humidifying Help

Experts agree that placing a humidifier in your bedroom and any other rooms of the house where you spend significant time is a good way to help decrease skin’s moisture loss. “This will help increase moisture in the air, helping to relieve dryness naturally,” O’Connell says.

Additionally, avoid blasting the heater or at least try to keep it at a moderate temperature. “Many people are lighting the fireplace during this time, which also contributes to a dry environment, thus increasing TEWL,” Ward adds.

And given that air-conditioning can be as drying as heat, it makes sense to keep the humidifier cranking all year long.


Cleanse With Care

Experiencing dry, flaky skin may drive you to over-exfoliate, but now is not the time because it can further dry out the skin. “It’s best to go easy with your daily cleansing routine and also avoid piling on too many harsh ingredients as they can decrease moisture in your skin,” O’Connell says.

She suggests using nonfoaming, soothing cream or milk cleansers or balms instead. And be sure to check the water temperature in baths and showers.

“Hot water can strip your skin of its natural oils,” she adds. Stick to warm water and tenderly pat—don’t rub—face and body with a towel allowing some of the post-shower droplets to remain.

Raquel Snowden for Skin
Raquel Snowden, a registered nurse and owner of Executive Esthetics, treats a client. Among other services, Snowden is a fan of the HydraFacial’s plumping powers.

All Hail Hydration

Your winter skin care regimen isn’t complete without a rich, deeply moisturizing cream—one for the face and another for the body. Look for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, peptides, ceremides and cupuacu, shea and kuikui butters, Ward says.

For those with severe dryness or chapped skin, she advises using a barrier repair balm. When you apply them matters as well—right after a lukewarm shower or facial cleansing, and while the skin is still damp is ideal for locking in additional moisture.

Raquel Snowden, a registered nurse and owner of Executive Esthetics, is also a fan of growth serums. “Growth Factor Serum by ZO Skin Health is my favorite for hydration and helping skin feel smooth,” she says. And don’t forget sunscreen. “Sun damage occurs in the colder months, too, so SPF is essential year-round,” Ward adds.


Time To Treat

Given that we’re hibernating more than ever these days, deeper anti-aging protocols can also make a difference. One of Ward’s favorite winter treatments is combining dermaplaning with a light lactic acid peel followed by a hydrating shea butter and hyaluronic acid mask.

“The dermaplaning combined with lactic acid is gentle enough to remove dead skin cells without irritating the skin,” she says. At the end of the treatment, she infuses growth factors and hyaluronic acid serums into the dermis to heal and promote collagen synthesis. “This combination delivers a truly lit-from-within glow,” Ward says. Snowden touts the plumping powers of the HydraFacial. “This is a nice, wet, nourishing facial that bathes the skin in goodness,” she says.

And O’Connell sees impressive results with microneedling and microchanneling, which are designed to stimulate the body’s natural ability to generate collagen. “These types of treatments also allow hydrating serums to penetrate better, helping the skin to retain more moisture,” she says.

skin moisturizers and barrier repair balm
Adding moisturizers and barrier repair balm after a lukewarm shower or facial cleansing works best. | Photo by Fizkes/

Moisturize Within

One of the most necessary steps in keeping skin healthy is being mindful of what you eat and drink, including staying properly hydrated. “Many people forget to drink adequate amounts of water, especially during the winter months, making skin even more prone to dryness,” O’Connell says.

Along with drinking plenty of water, increasing your healthy fat intake can also help. “It’s beneficial to maintain a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids including avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil,” she adds. And now that we’re past holiday season, try to take it easy with alcohol and caffeine. “While tempting,” Ward says, “they just cause an increase in dehydration, which is exactly what we want to avoid here.”

Lush Luxury

These products will moisturize and rejuvenate during winter’s dry months.


Osmia Nectar Nourishing Drops
Boost your favorite skin care creams with Osmia NECTAR NOURISHING DROPS, a 99.6% certified organic elixir created by Dr. Sarah Villafranco, combines healing oils and extracts including rose otto essential oil. Just a few added drops strengthen skin cells, boost moisture, and decrease redness and inflammation, $100.50, at Roots The Beauty Underground. (949-424-4266;
ZO Skin Health BODY EMULSION, a silky body cream, softens and promotes healthy cell renewal while soothing and calming skin with vitamins A, C and E, $95, at Executive Esthetics. (949-715-0768;
Natura Bissé DIAMOND EXTREME moisturizer
Highly recommended for dry skin, Natura Bissé DIAMOND EXTREME moisturizer is a decadent cream that deeply hydrates, minimizes the appearance of wrinkles and reduces the signs of aging with a visible lifting effect and calming lavender scent for soft, supple skin, $395, at Planet Beauty, Dana Point. (949-493-7111;


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