Let It Snow: How to winter-proof your beauty routine

While most people associate “peak winter” with the Christmas holidays, the best time to experience the cold season is actually at the beginning of the year. Between January to March, the weather strikes a perfect balance: cold enough for frost to form but milder than pre-solstice temperatures. This is the perfect time to travel to temperate countries if you want to experience the season. With skiing and snow festivals on the horizon, there’s tons of winter fun to be had before spring sets in! Except, if you’re a tropical tourist like me, there may be more to worry about than the price of the plane ticket.

Honestly, the biggest hassle of traveling to a chillier climate is not the clothes, but the cosmetics! Cold-weather fashion is both universal and common sense: thick layers, thermals, coats, and knits. But when it comes to skincare, the options are less obvious, as the climate change also brings about a change in skin type. The cold dries out everything, and when you factor in the effect of heaters, you have a recipe for skincare disaster.

As a (currently) oily-combination girl and a veteran of cold-weather vacations, I’ve had my share of nightmares. However, on a recent trip to (where else?) Seoul, I managed to curate the perfect combination of products that kept me chok chok despite the chill. Brands aside, here are some tips for picking products that’ll keep your skin alive during winter weather.

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Pack for the climate, not your skin type.

Here in Manila, I don’t exactly lack in the sebum-production department. Though I’m not 100% oily, I do grease up enough to justify gel-based moisturizers and oil-controlling beauty products. When my skin got exposed to Seoul’s wind chill factor though, all bets were off. The cold dries out everything, and whatever is left, the heaters will get to. On my first trip there - which actually happened in the spring, when it’s supposedly “warmer” than winter - the skin all over my face (and body!) turned flaky and textured, something my matte foundations could not hide.

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The second time around, I learned my lesson and packed for the weather. Regardless if you are oily, combination, or dry, you’ll need to trade in your “light” moisturizers for more emollient cream- and lotion-based products to survive winter. In fact, I actually found it helpful to use products designed for dry and dehydrated skin, as these delivered an extra hydration boost to my frozen face. Also, it helps to look for moisturizing products created in countries whose climates mirror the one you’re traveling to, as these are likely formulated with that colder weather in mind.

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Layering products is everything.

Note that I said products, as in plural. The farther you are from the equator, the more you’ll need to add to your routine. If your clothes need layering, your skincare will, too! In addition to your basic cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, you might want to invest in an essence, a hydrating serum and/or facial oil, a hydrating sheet mask, and an overnight mask pack/treatment.

Wait, but won’t all that stuff make my face feel heavy?

Truth is, it might, which is where the layering concept fits in. Similar to what you would do with clothes, building up thin layers of several ultra-hydrating products is a lot more comfortable and effective than just slathering on the skincare equivalent of a heavy puffer coat. Look for products that feature soothing, moisture-locking ingredients, such as ceramide, hyaluronic acid, squalane oil, and vitamin E, to name a few. Top that all off with a nourishing lip balm, moisturizing face base, and hydrating mist applied throughout the day, and the cold may not bother you (anyway).

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Please be gentle!

Between the cold and the layers of protective skincare and makeup you’ll need to survive during the day, it can be tempting to scrub up using hot water and your most heavy-duty cleansers. Resist the urge! In the cold, your skin desperately needs TLC in the form of low pH cleansers, gommage exfoliants, and lukewarm (not hot!) water. Keeping your acid mantle - the part of your skin that seals in moisture - intact is especially critical during this season, and anything harsh, be it heat, high pH cleansing, or abrasive exfoliants (which, TBH, you shouldn’t be using anyway) can easily strip that layer away, causing you to lose more precious skin moisture.

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Do your body good.

It’s tempting to focus on just the face, since it’s obviously going to be the most exposed part of your body, but just because your body is covered doesn’t mean it won’t be affected. Make sure to give the rest of your body some love! Hand and nail creams will keep your cuticles from peeling and cracking in the cold air, while body moisturizers and oils can help ward off the dreaded crusties from heaters.

At the end of the day, while we here at PV may have suggestions, there isn’t a one-size fits all care kit for cold-weather survival. Instead, if you’re looking to brave the freezing temps, it’s best to invest a little time into curating a winter “wardrobe” for your skin. Your face (and body) will definitely thank you for it!

Have you gone on vacation to a cool climate lately? What products saved your skin? Sound off in the comments below!