Even if you have your skincare routine down to an exact science, the colder months can throw a wrench in your carefully perfected ritual. Sure, winter doesn’t officially arrive until December 21—but the drop in temperature can cause dull, dry skin, itchiness and a host of other cold-weather complexion woes. The fact is, when the mercury drops, our skin needs more moisture and protection—especially when we crank up the thermostat.
And because our skin gets extra thirsty when it’s cold, it’s imperative to adjust your regimen. Here’s how to start a skincare routine and fine-tune it with a few important swaps.
How to Build a Skincare Routine
Whether you opt for an easy skincare routine or a complex one, layering matters. However, it should be noted that using more products won’t necessarily give you better results. In fact, using fewer products means less risk of irritation and fewer breakouts and allergic reactions.Before we answer how to start a skincare routine, let’s talk about why the order of skincare matters.
If you were to incorrectly layer a serum over a moisturizer, that serum might be rendered ineffective. Similarly, if you were to layer a moisturizer over a face oil, that moisturizer would be blocked from hydrating your skin. Instead of just slapping on a bunch of creams, there’s a specific order you should follow to get the most bang for your buck—and the most efficacy out of your products. Not to mention, the proper order will prevent any dreaded pilling.
When you’re figuring out how to build a skincare routine, remember that it should include these categories: cleanser, serum, moisturizer (something a little richer in the evening); during the day, you should always finish up with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher, even when it’s cloudy or snowy. You can follow this template no matter your skin type (dry, oily, combination, etc.).
How to Layer Skincare
It may seem like skincare 101 to figure out the correct order for your morning skincare routine—and nighttime skincare routine—but with a growing number of categories and countless product options on the market, things can get confusing fast. Come winter, your skincare routine should mirror how you dress—just like you layer your clothes, you should layer your skincare products. In other words, for optimal hydration, more is better.
Now, if you currently opt for a very basic skincare routine—like a one-two punch of cleanser and moisturizer—loading on layers may seem daunting, but it’s easier than it seems. The golden rule when applying skincare is to apply the lightest first and the heaviest last, since thinner products can’t penetrate thicker products.
How to Apply Skincare in the Correct Order
There’s no one-size-fits-all routine for all skin types, but this general framework (and skincare order) follows the rules of layering, for both day and night.
Step 1: Always start with a cleanser.
Every routine needs to start with a clean slate, so a cleanser is non-negotiable. Look for one with a gel, lotion or light foam base that counteracts oiliness and washes away dirt while adding hydration with ingredients like ceramides, glycerine and hyaluronic acid. Try something like Pureté Thermale Foaming Cream, a foaming cream cleanser that works on all skin types. It gently washes away impurities while leaving skin feeling soft and fresh and without any tightness (a telltale sign that your cleanser is too harsh).
Step 2: Add an essence or a lightweight serum.
After you’ve cleansed your skin, put on your lightest product, like an essence or a water-based serum like Minéral 89. It contains 89% Vichy volcanic water and a high dose of hyaluronic acid and works to hydrate and plump skin with moisture while strengthening the skin’s barrier function. Lightweight and non-greasy, it feels as weightless as water—except it has instant hydrating properties.
Step 3: Add an antioxidant.
During the daytime, consider giving your routine a boost of vitamin C—a key ingredient that every skin type needs. It will help protect against sun damage (free radicals) while brightening and boosting collagen production. When you’re looking for the perfect vitamin C serum, make sure it contains the right type (ascorbic acid) and is around 15%, which is the optimal amount in a formula. LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum hits all those marks, delivering 15% pure vitamin C with boosters of vitamin E and pine polyphenols, both of which help protect and reverse signs of oxidative damage. Plus, its water-like texture is perfect for layering.
Step 4: Apply an eye cream.
The eye area shows the first signs of aging, so adding an eye cream to your routine has its benefits. These targeted moisturizers tend to be lighter and thinner than face moisturizers, so apply them before you slather on your day or night creams. Try something like LiftActiv Eyes, which harnesses the skin-strengthening power of Vichy volcanic water with the circulation-boosting benefits of caffeine.
Step 5: Lock in hydration with a moisturizer.
Another non-negotiable skincare step, especially in winter, is moisturizer. Even if you have oily skin, moisturizers do more than hydrate; they lock in moisture. Think of it as the topcoat of your routine—it seals in all those hard-working serums and boosters. Many daytime moisturizers have an SPF and tend to be more lightweight so you can apply your makeup without your skin feeling greasy. If you’re looking for a lightweight moisturizer for daytime that still delivers a powerful dose of hydration, consider Aqualia Thermal Water Gel. It cocoons skin with hyaluronic acid and fortifies with Vichy volcanic water, providing up to 48 hours of hydration.
The skin loses water while we sleep (thanks to transdermal water loss), so nighttime is all about locking in moisture. Tweak your evening routine with a night cream that does the most to deliver hydration. These creams are a little thicker and richer—for example, try LiftActiv Supreme Night. It delivers a nourishing boost of moisture and harnesses anti-aging ingredients such as rhamnose and vitamin C to boost the skin’s firmness.
Step 6: During the day, apply sunscreen.
Even if your moisturizer has an SPF in it, the final step in your daytime routine should be a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Try Capital Soleil Ultra Light Sunscreen SPF 50. It’s easy to apply, has an appealing texture and makes your skin feel hydrated. And it won’t cause breakouts or irritation or leave a tacky residue or white cast.
Skincare Ingredients That Should Not Mix
It takes a bit of skincare know-how, or mixology 101, to know what skincare ingredients not to mix. Skincare mixing without proper knowledge can not only be a waste of money but also cause skin to become sensitized and irritated. Here are the key skincare ingredients to avoid mixing.
- Vitamin C: Don’t mix with retinol or retinoids. Vitamin C thrives during the daytime because it fights environmental aggressors, while retinol works best in the evening because it repairs and rebuilds skin.
- Salicylic and glycolic acids: These acids work as effective exfoliants. However, they shouldn’t be used at the same time of day as retinol. The combination could cause skin irritation.
- SPF: Don’t mix your sunscreen with your moisturizer or foundation. Your sunscreen should be applied on its own—after moisturizer and before foundation (if you choose to wear one). This helps preserve its full protection factor.