- Winter’s cold weather can be very harsh on our skin, causing dryness, flaking, and irritation.
- When the temperatures start dropping, most of us start changing up our skincare routine in attempts to counter the effects of the chilly air.
- From versatile basics like Aquaphor Healing Ointment to customized serums that target our personal skin concerns, these are the 17 winter skincare essentials we swear by.
When the seasons change, so do our skincare routines. The lotion that keeps your face looking supple in the heat of summer is likely not enough to counter the serious dryness caused by dry winter air. And, while a swipe of ChapStick might keep your lips feeling soft in July, you probably need something thicker come January.
The way our skin looks and feels changes as the environment around us does. It can be frustrating to have to deal with dry, cracked skin and lips every winter – trust me, I’ve been there. But, with the right products, you can solve many of your winter skin woes. I tend to amp up my relatively lightweight lotions to thick creams during winter, as my skin can get very dry. Since I’m just one person, I decided to poll the rest of my coworkers – a cohort of New Yorkers and cold-weather natives – on what skincare products they rely on to keep their skin feeling fresh through the freezing months.
Keep reading for the 17 cold-weather beauty essentials we swear by during the winter:
Laneige Water Sleeping Mask
At the start of winter, my skin always dries out significantly. This winter, it happened as expected but took a dramatic turn for the worse after extreme cold weather in New York combined with a long flight to a desert climate – for my wedding. The week of my wedding, my face was extremely dry, flaking, red, and irritated. No moisturizer or sheet mask was strong enough until I discovered this overnight sleeping mask, which I used every night. It really saved my skin and wedding day. I still use it proactively and have had no problems or dryness since. – Emily Hochberg, Insider Picks travel editor
Nuria Revitalizing Jelly Night Treatment
The areas around my nose and mouth suffer the most during winter, but when I use this jelly at night (or in the morning, don’t let the name restrict you), the dryness and flakiness disappear. It feels cool and soothing on my skin, and it also smells amazing, so I always look forward to applying it during my routine. The light and bouncy jelly absorbs easily into my skin and leaves it feeling so hydrated, I can’t help but pat my cheeks every time I’m done with it. – Connie Chen, Insider Picks senior reporter
Necessaire Body Lotion
This body lotion seems basic as moisturizers go – it’s unscented, it comes in a simply designed white tube, and it looks like a white cream – but that’s why I love it. It doesn’t rely on gimmicks to be effective and relevant and instead looks to simple and efficient ingredients to get the job done. It contains marula, cacay, and meadowfoam oils for moisturization, plus niacinamide and vitamins A, C, and E to improve the tone and texture of skin. I never feel greasy after putting it on my body, just moisturized and hydrated all over. – Connie Chen, Insider Picks senior reporter
Atolla Personalized Serum
I was first introduced to Atolla, a pioneering brand in personalized skincare, around the time of year when my skin dries out and requires targeted attention. Thanks to these serums (delivered monthly), I’m able to marvel at my soft, hydrated, and balanced complexion even as temperatures plummet. My current serum – a blend of coconut extract, avocado oil, and rosehip seed oil – has a thick consistency that deeply seeps into my pores. Twice a day, I slather generously and leave it on as a dense moisturizing barrier.
I’m most impressed by Atolla’s extensive formulation process, which involves a series of tests that measure your skin’s oil, moisture, and pH levels. Sounds compelling, right? This Allure article condenses the entire process from start to finish. – Dominique McIntee, Insider Picks editorial fellow
Vaseline Intensive Care Body Lotion
I’m Irish-American, a heritage that betrays its people in the form of parched skin, especially during the winter. My calves particularly become flaky and itchy, so naturally, I opt for Vaseline Essential Healing Body Lotion as an affordable and long-term solution. I love its subtle fresh scent and lightweight formula that nourishes scaly areas without drenching them. Typically, I rub the lotion throughout my body post-shower since hot water can dehydrate skin. I especially applaud its smooth, non-greasy finish, which prevents sticky bedsheets after application. But don’t just take my word for it, our team loves Vaseline. – Dominique McIntee, Insider Picks editorial fellow
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Aquaphor is to me what Vaseline is to many. The second the weather drops below 50 degrees, my lips already begin chapping. I use Aquaphor twice a day at minimum, once while getting ready for work and once before bed, and my lips are able to resist the dryness of the NYC commute. While I echo the benefits of the 14-ounce jar (it is the same product, after all), I much prefer the 1.75-ounce tubes. I quite literally carry Aquaphor with me wherever I go: I have a small tube on my nightstand, in my work bag, in my gym bag, and in every winter jacket I own. – Emily Hein, Insider Picks production fellow
Out of all of the exciting, expensive, and trendy beauty products that have made their way through my skincare rotation, Aquaphor is still one of my favorite products. It’s versatile enough to warrant keeping a tub on my vanity. Chapped lips, cracked hands, and dry, rough patches of skin – a swipe of the ointment is the cure for pretty much all of my winter skin woes. I’ve tried a lot of expensive lip balms, and while I’m a sucker for their pretty packaging, I think Aquaphor gets the job done just as well for a much better price. – Remi Rosmarin, Insider Picks reporter
Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream
When it comes to moisturizers, I like simple, hydrating formulas. I usually go for drugstore options, but I once borrowed my mom’s Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream and I’ve never turned back since. The formula is thick and creamy, but it doesn’t feel heavy or greasy on your skin. I’ll put a good amount on my face at night before bed and wake up with skin that’s soft and refreshed. When I use this cream, I feel like I don’t need to lather on tons of serums or oils – it gets the job of smooth, soft skin done on its own. – Remi Rosmarin, Insider Picks reporter
Vaseline Intensive Care Deep Moisture Cream
Upon experiencing my first winter in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where it’s seldom above 30 degrees between the months of November and March, I very quickly realized I needed a lotion that consistently heals dry skin. Many lotions I’ve used in the past have temporarily moisturized my skin, but hours after applying, it felt even drier than before. I love Vaseline’s Intensive Care Deep Moisture Cream because it’s thick and moisturizing enough to use on my entire body, does not cause any sensitivity, and is affordable, which is especially important for 4+ months of below 30-degree weather. – Emily Hein, Insider Picks production fellow
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask
I discovered the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask after hearing about it from several influencers that I follow on Instagram and YouTube. They all raved about it so much that I decided to pick it up at Sephora for the winter months. This lip mask has saved my lips from being cracked and dry like they usually are this time of year. I put it on every night and wake up with smooth, hydrated lips. The effects have been long-term too, so I haven’t had cracked lips since before I started using this mask. – Victoria Gracie, Insider Picks social media associate
I’ve been using this lip mask for a little over a year. I bought it after editing our buying guide to the best lip balm because I was intrigued. A lip balm that not only saves your lips from peeling but lasts for about two years? The hype is real! I use Laneige’s lip mask every night, and I still have a little more than half left in the container. It really does save my lips when they’re at their worst during the winter. I’m not the sort of person who casually spends $20 on lip balm, either.– Malarie Gokey, Insider Picks editor
Origins Drink Up Overnight Hydrating Mask
Origins Drink Up Overnight Hydrating Mask is a lifesaver when your face is feeling extra dry. I would describe my skin as combination (definitely more on the oily side), so I don’t usually have too much of a problem with dry skin, but every so often I need that extra moisture in the winter. I put this mask on before I go to bed and wake up with refreshed, hydrated skin. – Victoria Gracie, Insider Picks social media associate
Flamingo Body Lotion
I recently discovered Flamingo’s body lotion after seeing it in Target and wanting to give it a try. I lather this lotion on after the shower and it’s extremely hydrating. One of my pet peeves is when lotion doesn’t absorb into your skin due to being too thick, but this lotion absorbs right away and still leaves your skin feeling smooth and moisturized. An added bonus is the amazing yet subtle scent with notes of Asian pear, white freesia, and vetiver. – Victoria Gracie, Insider Picks social media associate
Cetaphil Fragrance Free Moisturizing Lotion
I’ve always had issues with dry skin on my hands during the winter. When I was younger, it got so bad that my hands would bleed from the harsh, cold winters in New York – and there wasn’t much that would help. The only lotion that seemed to work for me was always Cetaphil’s Fragrance Free Moisturizing Lotion. This lotion is great for sensitive skin and actually locks the moisture into your skin. Another perk is that you can use this lotion all over your body and face, it’s not a lotion that only works for your hands. – Victoria Gracie, Insider Picks social media associate
L’Occitane Shea Butter Ulta Rich Body Cream
This tub of moisturizer has lasted me a year so far and I’ve only gotten about halfway through it. It’s incredibly thick and creamy, so a little goes a long way, and it dries quickly enough that I can apply it to my legs and arms right before I hop into bed. It makes flaky, dry skin disappear, and it even doubles as a hand lotion. It’s the only body lotion I use, and not for lack of access – I just haven’t liked any of the lotions I’ve tried as much as this one. – Sally Kaplan, Insider Picks senior editor
O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Cream
Every winter, my cuticles get terribly dry and start ripping, cracking, and peeling. It’s awful! I was sent a random press mailer that included O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Cream, and I had read about it in our guide to the best hand creams, so I figured I’d try it. It really does work. It takes a minute to absorb into my skin, but once it does, my hands are fully moisturized and protected from the cold, dry winter air. Using it has decreased the problems with my cuticles, so I don’t pick at them all winter long. – Malarie Gokey, Insider Picks editor
Beautycounter Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream
I love this Beautycounter nighttime cream. It’s part of the company’s Countertime collection (built for aging skin concerns) and, while I’d never recommend spending $90 on a cream unless it’s a comfortable expense for you, it is one of the only thick nighttime creams that has never caused a breakout for me. It also includes a plant-based alternative for retinol that studies have suggested is as effective when applied twice daily as applying retinol once per day. – Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter
Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream
If you’re looking for anything other than a thick, rich lotion then Tatcha’s Dewy Skin Cream is not for you. It feels more decadent than any other moisturizer I’ve tested over the years, and it leaves my skin feeling noticeably plumper for hours after applying. This is probably due to an ingredient list that’s packed with antioxidants, nutrients, and botanical extracts to help the skin capture and keep hydration – including superfoods like green tea, rice, and algae, as well as skincare all-stars like hyaluronic acid. It’s expensive at $70, but a little goes a long way. I haven’t found a more budget-friendly option that’s as hydrating, but Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel Moisturizer may come close. – Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter
Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion
I have very sensitive skin that tends to get eczema if I don’t basically bathe in lotion all winter long. Alba Botanica’s unscented lotion is the best one I’ve tried. It has no scent, so it doesn’t irritate my skin or my allergies. It’s very moisturizing and dries relatively quickly. – Malarie Gokey, Insider Picks editor