Winter in Minnesota can be brutal and unforgiving, leaving skin feeling tight and uncomfortable. As an esthetician, I always recommend that my clients adjust their routines by changing up creams and adding in serums to keep skin supple and hydrated during this time of year. The trick is to determine whether your skin truly is dry or if it is simply dehydrated. By knowing the difference, you can incorporate the correct products into your skincare without causing further challenges.

During this time of year, almost every client that graces my treatment table complains of dryness. Usually my first question is, “tell me what you mean by that.”  A truly dry skin does not produce oil at all. In fact, it will appear quite flakey when there is excessive dryness present. With the severe lack of humidity in the air, this flakiness can become quite intolerable in the winter. I should note, that this is not applicable to a skin that is using a retinoid product, as that dryness is not inherent and rather a result of Vitamin-A use. For a truly dry skin, lipid based serums and creams with emollients are a must during all four seasons. With these formulations, the skin will better be able to hold water thereby working to alleviate dryness.

On the other hand, when a skin still produces oil but feels dry, we are usually dealing with dehydration.  If a client is dry but still having breakouts, there is oil present in the skin. Typically, products with too harsh of ingredients have been used and have caused the upper layer of skin to dry out and become irritated, thus leading to dryness.  With this scenario,  serums and creams should be water based and contain humectants, which are water rich, mimic sweat and hydrate the skin. They are designed to prevent water loss and protect the outer layer of skin (the stratum corneum) which is responsible for maintaining the moisture barrier.  When the moisture barrier is compromised, the skin becomes sensitive and can sting when products are applied,

Keeping the winter dull-drums at bay is not hard if you know your skin type.  The most important step is to determine what type of moisturizer and serum you should be using and protect the moisture barrier. Once this is done, winter will be a piece of cake!