Pointing out that winter weather wreaks havoc on the skin is sort of like saying the sky is blue; you're already well aware of this information, and the evidence for it is as plain as the flaky-skinned nose on your face. But unlike the azure shade of the sky, the impact of winter's wrath on our face and body is a real problem to be dealt with, not some benign aspect of the environment to appreciate. And we don't know about you, but this specific winter has been particularly rough on our skin, causing it to flake up and off our face to a degree that has been driving us crazy—or it had been anyway, until we changed up our beauty game.
To begin with, though, New York's past few months of alternately freezing and springlike temperature—not to mention stints of bone-dry air followed by doses of suddenly high-humidity—left us at a loss for what to do. Our normal skin routine (which, um, admittedly was less of a regimen and more of a nightly "oh shit I forgot to wash my face, well, maybe if I rub it really hard with my hands, that will be the same thing" kind of deal) was not getting the job done. We needed to bring in some power players, things stocked with ingredients like hyaluronic acid (you know you've heard of it), evening primrose oil, and jojoba. Click through the slideshow below to see some of the things that have worked for us, and helped make it so that our skin hasn't been shedding like a snake's.
Love + Sage Mint Condition Lip Balm, $12, available at Love + Sage
This ultra-moisturizing balm not only nourishes lips and leaves them silky soft, thanks to an infusion of shea butter, avocado oil, and Vitamin E, but it also smells incredibly good; yes, mint is the primary, invigorating scent, but the herbal hint of eucalyptus and sage make for a deliciously complex smell that I quickly came to love. The benefit of super smooth lips was an added bonus, but I'd wear this stuff for the scent alone.
Soapwalla Restorative Face Serum, $56, available at Soapwalla
I love all of Soapwalla's line (their cultishly beloved all-natural deodorant is a longtime personal favorite), but this vegan and organic face serum now holds a valuable space on my vanity. It nourishes my skin, as it's intended to do, but unlike my experience with some other all-natural skincare, Soapwalla's serum doesn't make my ultra-sensitive skin react. Those of you who have easily reddened skin and have tried all-natural products know what I'm talking about; all too often, I apply something only to turn bright crimson, making the intended benefits pretty irrelevant. Like, who cares if my skin is soft when I look like a tomato? Anyway: This serum, formulated with anti-inflammatory ingredients like evening primrose oil, actually soothes the skin, as well as moisturizing and plumping it up. Perfection.
Pestle & Mortar Hydrate Lightweight Moisturizer, $74, available at Pestle & Mortar
I know what you're thinking: Why, if her skin is so dry, is she using a lightweight moisturizer? Good question! Here's my answer: Because this stuff works. But also: I don't know if this happens to you, but sometimes, when I use an ultra-thick moisturizer, it just feels like it sits there on my skin. Like, it doesn't actually penetrate at all. And so rather than actually solving my peeling skin problems, it just adds another layer of... detritus to my already compromised complexion. This is not the case with Pestle & Mortar's Hydrate. It's non-greasy and just seems to erase all the flakes, leaving only soft and smooth skin behind. I started using it day and night to great effect, always feeling like it was leaving my skin hydrated from the inside out.
Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum, $69, available at Pestle & Mortar
This is pretty much the skin ingredient of the moment right now, and for good reason: It really works. Hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring in our skin (though, of course, it decreases with age) and works to attract and bond water molecules together, leading to plumper, healthier-looking skin. How that translates to your face after applying the serum, is that it (along with this serum's dose of Vitamin E) gives you a smoother and clearer palette, making you look instantly refreshed and even dewy after applying. Yes! Dewy in the winter. Who knew this could happen? It's glorious. And, as with all Pestle & Mortar products, free of parabens, mineral oil, silicones, sulphates, propylene glycol & synthetic fragrances.
Verso Skincare Deep Hydration Mask, $75 for 4, available at David Pirotta
Okay, admittedly, I'm one of those people who use sheet masks religiously without being 100 percent sure that they have any real benefits other than making me look momentarily scary to my boyfriend and ensuring that I take 15-20 minutes for myself where I'm just sitting down and relaxing. But like, do they actually work? On the one hand, who knows, really? Probably some of them don't. But others? Well, after using this Verso Deep Hydration Mask this winter, my skin glowed. Like, I couldn't stop looking at it and also feeling how soft it was. The serum left behind after removing the gel mask also just melted into my skin, instead of resting there as a gloppy, gooey mess, and I found myself really looking forward to reapplying it and getting that moisture boost and signature glow. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm addicted to the glow, but... you know, I kind of am.
Erbaviva Shaping and Firming Oil, $45 each, available at Erbaviva
So, I was a bit skeptical about oils that promise to shape and firm and I think, to a very real extent, any shaping and firming that occurred following my diligent application of these oils is in the eye of the beholder, but I will say that the incredible scents of these oils made me love applying them post-shower, and I love how they absorbed into my skin and actually was more responsible about applying them than I have been any other body moisturizer or oil, like, ever, with the result of truly soft skin all over my body during the darkest, driest days of winter. So, win-win, you know? And if I'm a little bit shapelier and firmer because of it? Cool. Great. Anything to slide more smoothly into the spring days that lie ahead.