8 Steps to Kick Dry Winter Skin and Hair in One Day
The weather may be warmer, the flowers may be blooming, and we may be well past the first official day of spring. So why do so many of us still have to contend with dry winter skin and hair? Spring should be a time when you stop worrying about this. After all, it rains more frequently in the spring—at least across the northern hemisphere, where people are more likely to experience dry skin and hair resulting from cold weather. And moisture-sapping heaters have been turned off for the season. Yet, the last vestiges of winter remain in the form of flaky patches on our cheeks and dull, lifeless locks.
Instead of sitting back and waiting for the temperature and humidity levels to rise, devote one weekend day to finally banishing the dryness. Here's how you do it:
Before You Start: Pick a Day when You Won't Be Busy
Pick a day when you'll have several hours to spend slathering products on your dry winter skin and hair. You won't be constantly layering on serum after serum, but you will need to wait around while things sink in. Ideally this will be a day when you can go makeup-free as certain foundations and powders can be drying. It also should not be the day after a night of drinking because your skin will already be drier than normal, and though this routine will certainly help revive your complexion, your skin might still be a tad dry afterward.
Step 1: Cleanse Your Skin
Wash off any makeup and grime from earlier in the day with a gentle cleanser. We personally like Nutrogena's Fresh Foaming Cleanser in the classic blue bottle because despite the fact that it's a foaming cleanser, which can be drying, it removes makeup and cleanses the skin without making faces feel parched. Other top cleansers include CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, both of which dermatologists constantly recommend. You also can't go wrong with a cleansing milk or cleansing oil.
Just stay away from cleansers formulated to fight acne (even if you have acne) because they often contain salicylic acid, which is meant to exfoliate skin. You don't want to exfoliate skin during this first step because ...
Step 2: Time to Exfoliate
Exfoliation is key because it gets rid of flaky patches and promotes cellular turnover. When you're young, your skin cells turn over every 28 days, but when you reach your 30s and 40s, they turn over only every 40 days, leading to dull complexions. So even though exfoliation seems like a bad idea when skin is dry, it's necessary to jump-start that turnover. Plus, exfoliation helps ensure that any products you use later will penetrate into the skin.
Follow one of the most important tips for dry skin and make sure you're not using harsh exfoliants, such as cheap scrubs full of apricot kernels, because they can damage your skin. Instead, try a peel formulated with several alpha and beta hydroxy acids at a lower strength. We like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel. Or use a gentle scrub, such as Tatcha's rice enzyme powder, which lightly polishes faces.
Step 3: Take a Steamy Shower
Turn the shower temperature setting to muggy and hop in. This is a key step in the skincare routine because the steam from the shower will open your pores and make your skin more receptive to products. It's also the beginning of your haircare routine. To kick that off, shampoo your hair using your normal shampoo, then rinse it out. Don't apply conditioner.
Step 4: Post-Shower Hair- and Skincare
After staying in the shower for at least 10 minutes to make sure your pores have opened, run a deep-conditioning treatment through your freshly shampooed hair. If you don't have a deep-conditioning product, you can use basically any type of oil, from coconut to olive, both of which are touted as great home remedies for dry hair. Really coat your hair, concentrating on your ends, then place a plastic shower cap over your saturated locks. Next, wrap a damp, steaming-hot towel around the shower cap. The heat from the towel opens up the cuticle and helps the deep conditioner or oil penetrate deeper. You could also try a soft-bonnet dryer attachment.
Pro Tip: Want to make sure you're using the right oil on your hair? Check out our guide to hair products for every hair type.
Once you've gotten your hair situation sorted, it's time to unfold a serum-soaked sheet mask and press it over your steamed face. The sheet creates a physical barrier that prevents the serum from evaporating, helping to lock the mask's moisturizers into the skin. Look for a hydrating mask, preferably one with hyaluronic acid, a powerful hydrator that draws moisture into the skin. We like Dr. Jart+ Vital Hydra Solution, which lists hyaluronic acid fairly high up in its ingredient list, indicating that there is a noticeable amount in the formula. We like the Tonymoly I'm Real Aloe Mask Sheet, too, for its soothing aloe extract and water essence.
Step 5: Break!
Chill out in your face mask and towel-wrapped hair for at least 45 minutes. That will give your locks and skin enough time to soak up the moisturizing ingredients.
Step 6: Shower, Round Two
Hop back into the shower and rinse out your hair (try to avoid getting water on your face and washing off the sheet mask serum). If you used an oil, you'll want to shampoo your hair again, otherwise it will be extremely greasy. If you have fine hair, you may find that your hair is a little greasy anyway, but that can be easily hidden the rest of the weekend with topknots and braids.
Pro Tip: Want to get better at braids? Our 3 Cute Braids, 3 Videos to Learn How to Do Them can help.
Step 7: Moisturize
You're now done fighting the last remnants of dry winter hair. Finish off dry winter skin for good by applying a barrier-repair moisturizer to your face. Seek out a moisturizer that has ceramides, which help repair the skin's protective barrier. We like the noncomedogenic CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion because it will help lock in the serum from the mask without clogging pores. If you love oils, try patting a couple drops of pure argan oil onto your face a few minutes after adding the moisturizer. The oil will act like plastic wrap and seal everything into the skin.
And don't forget to take care of your body. While your skin is still damp from the shower, slather the ceramide-filled moisturizer everywhere below the neck. Add fast-absorbing coconut oil on top of that to get the type of glowing arms and legs frequently associated with Victoria's Secret supermodels (many of whom have said they moisturize with coconut oil).
Step 8: Catch Some Quality Zs
That night, make sure you get a good night's rest because skin cells turn over while you sleep. You may be surprised at how much better your skin will look after you sleep a solid eight hours.
Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.