Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

A dermatologist explains the best winter skincare routine

How to keep skin moisturized during cold weather

A Handsome Young Man Applying Moisturizing Cream on His Face While Standing in Front of the Mirror. Skin Care and Beauty Concept.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As winter approaches, scarves, hats, warm coats, and gloves get pulled out of storage, and piles of winter boots start lining the front door instead of flip-flops and running shoes. Knowing how to keep skin moisturized is important in any season, but especially during the winter months. Getting out the door in the morning clad to face the elements becomes a laborious process of bundling up and protecting every inch of exposed skin from chilling winter winds and frigid air.

However, sometimes, no matter how meticulous you are at covering your skin from the cold, dry, winter air, you can still find your skin feeling itchy, dry, and chapped in the winter. As much as your clothing has to change with the seasons, your skincare routine may need an overhaul in the winter to keep it as supple, soft, smooth, and hydrated as it is in milder seasons.

Many men deal with excessively dry skin in the wintertime, but this doesn’t have to be a given. With a good moisturizing routine and the right skincare products, you can get through even the chilliest and driest winter months with healthy, nourished, soft skin. To help make this the winter your skin doesn’t flake and has an enviable, hydrated glow, we spoke with Dr. Rebecca Bialas, MD, MPH, the Co-Founder of CLARA Dermatology. She filled us in on all the best winter skin care tips for men to help keep your skin moisturized during cold weather.

Man applying face cream.
Tetra Images, LLC/Alamy / Tetra

Why does skin get dry in the winter?

Dry skin in the winter doesn’t just refer to the skin on your face, body, and hands. Bialas said that many men also deal with chapped and dry lips and flaky scalps (seborrheic dermatitis) in the winter. “In winter, the colder air and indoor heating both reduce the amount of moisture in the air, so our skin tends to dry out more quickly,” she said.

Preventing dry skin in the winter

Bialas said her top recommendation for men to prevent wintertime skin dryness is to not overdo it with showering and soap. “How often we need to shower has been a topic of debate in the popular media recently, but we know that showering too much—either too many times a day, taking showers that last too long, or using water that is too hot—strips the skin of protective and moisturizing oils,” she explains. “In addition, using soap on the body strips away these oils and leads to dryness and itching.”

Instead, Bialas tells patients to use soap on the “stinky” areas (armpits, groin, and backside) but to avoid soap on the arms, legs, and torso as long as there is no visible dirt or grime. Moreover, instead of using hot water, warm water will better preserve the skin’s natural moisture while still being sufficiently effective to clean your skin.

In addition to adjusting your skincare routine and products for wintertime skin protection, consider eating more foods with healthy fats, like coconut, avocado, and nuts, which can help the skin maintain a strong barrier to retain moisture.

Man looking into mirror at his face,

Winter skincare tips for the face

Bialas says that while it is important to wash your face daily, most people do not need to wash it both in the morning and at night. “If you are not super oily or acne-prone, you can get away with washing your face at night only. I recommend a mild acid-based cleanser for the face, that will help to strip away the dead skin cells and any dry, flaky layer that may be present,” she said. “I like glycolic acid cleansers because they are generally gentle enough to use daily.” This should be followed with a moisturizer, which will absorb more quickly and effectively after washing with a glycolic acid cleanser.

a man putting on lip balm
Yakobchuk Olena / Adobe Stock

Winter skincare tips for the lips

Men often overlook the lips when it comes to their skincare routine. However, it’s especially critical to hydrate your lips and provide extra protection to prevent dryness and painful chapping in the winter because the skin on the lips is particularly delicate. “I favor plain old Vaseline or Aquaphor applied every night before bed (at least!) to keep lips moist,” Bialas said. “It also helps to keep a humidifier in the bedroom while you’re sleeping.” Running a humidifier in the bedroom while you sleep at night is a great way to add additional moisture to the air and doing so benefits both your lips and skin.

a man washing his face

Best winter skincare products for men

For your wintertime skincare routine, you should look for skincare products that contain ingredients called ceramides, which are lipids (fats) that the skin produces naturally. These compounds support the barrier function of the skin by helping seal individual skin cells together, which makes the skin better equipped to retain its natural moisture.

An anti-dandruff shampoo is key in moisturizing your scalp in the winter. “Head and Shoulders is a classic and can be used daily, or at least 3 times a week to keep flakes at bay,” said Bialas.

Aveeno Eczema Therapy

A botthe of Aveeno Eczema Therapy on white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For the body, you want to use something that absorbs quickly but still moisturizes the skin. Bialas recommends Aveeno Eczema Therapy because it is lightweight yet quite hydrating.

O’Keeffe’s Working Hands

O'Keefe's Working Hands on white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Her pick for your hands is O’Keeffe’s Working Hands, noting, “It comes in a green tub and is wax-based, which means it doesn’t leave hands greasy or slippery. But man does it work!”

Winter skincare

Ingredients to avoid in winter skincare products

Bialas cautions against overdoing it on retinol and acids in the winter. “A little is good (like a glycolic acid wash), but a lot can be too much when skin is already more dry than usual,” she said. “Retinols, or vitamin A-based creams that are great for acne and anti-aging, cause some degree of dryness in everyone. Sometimes, my patients have to cut back on how often they use their retinols in wintertime, to compensate for the extra dry air.” She added that with retinol, consistency is more important than frequency, so you can still see beneficial results even if you’re just using retinol a few times a week.

A close-up view of a young man applying lotion to his hands.
Getty Images

Moisturizing your skin in the winter

Due to the cold and dry air, you should moisturize your skin every day in the winter—even if you are oily or acne-prone. According to Bialas, the best time to moisturize is right after washing because the skin is still damp, which makes it better able to lock in moisture. “Pat your skin gently so it is still slightly damp, and then apply a moisturizer,” she said.

If you are prone to breakouts, fear not. Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer, which means that it won’t clog pores. And, if you have a beard or other facial hair, a thinner, lightweight moisturizer or facial oil is ideal because these products can absorb more easily in areas with facial hair. Bialas said she liked Fur Oil, which is intended to be used daily as a moisturizer and conditioner for any skin with hair growth. It’s made from naturally derived oils, and it also prevents ingrown hairs and hair bumps over time.

a man in the bathroom doing skincare
Ron Lach /

Skincare treatment for chapped and dry skin

Though the adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure” holds true for keeping your skin moisturized in cold winter weather, if you’re already battling dry, chapped winter skin, Bialas has some treatment guidance to help repair the damage. “Sometimes, a heavy-duty moisturizer will do the trick—after a shower, slather on something thick like Cerave Moisturizing Cream (a cream is thicker than a lotion) and then put pajamas or old sweats on top to seal it in,” she suggested. “For hands, I recommend applying O’Keeffe’s Working Hands, and then putting cotton gloves or old socks on your hands while you sleep to drive in the moisture. You can even use Aquaphor or Vaseline for extra dry areas like elbows and knees.”

She says that if you are so dry that the skin is red, itching, or tender, you may need to see a dermatologist who can prescribe a short course of topical steroids to calm down any inflammation that may be present.

“Unfortunately, I see so many men who just live with their dry skin even though it’s uncomfortable—but you don’t have to,” said Bialias. There are lots of little tweaks you can make to your skincare routine to prevent and treat winter dry skin.”

Man outside on a winter day
Dylan Collette/Unsplash

Don’t forget the sunscreen

Sunscreen is not just for summertime days on the beach or playing under the sun. Even if you’re all bundled up, it’s important to use sunscreen in the winter to protect your skin because those nasty UV rays that can prematurely age your skin don’t go south for the winter.

While you don’t need to lather up like you do in the summer (the sun can’t penetrate heavy winter clothing…yet), it’s important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30 on all of your exposed skin, including your lips. While the sun doesn’t feel as warm in the winter, the skin-damaging UV rays are still there, and their effect can be magnified by being reflected off snow and ice. So do yourself a favor and keep that sunscreen handy. Your skin will thank you for it.

Amber Sayer
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Amber Sayer is a fitness, nutrition, and wellness writer and editor, and was previously a Fitness Editor at Byrdie. She…
If you’re looking for the best men’s cologne, try these recent drops
Smell your best with these great fragrances
A person spraying cologne on themselves.

You only get one chance to make a great first impression. That is why we dress nicely. That is why we groom ourselves expertly. And that is why you need to have a great cologne. You never know who you are going to meet, and you don't want to be caught in anything other than your best. You may be forgiven if your hair is a little long when you are on the trail. You may be forgiven for having a five o'clock shadow on Saturday afternoon. And you may not be punished for wearing jeans and a T-shirt at the movie theater. However, you will always be judged for not smelling good. That is why you need to invest in the best men's colognes.

Having a pleasant fragrance is more than smelling pleasant for those around you. It also attracts people to you and shows that you care about your hygiene. People will respond better and remember you fondly if your smell lingers. It is the most powerful scent tied to memory, so make sure you are remembered in 2024 with these top picks for colognes for men. We didn't go with all the big boys in the men's cologne industry. You will see one name that nearly everyone knows. But, we stuck more with the ones that you all should know. There is no Dior, no Polo, and no Gucci on this list. We didn't go for names. We went for quality fragrances and picks that will keep you remembered long after you leave.
Fulton & Roark Cloudland

Read more
Why everyone is saying bakuchiol is the new (natural) alternative to retinol for your skin

Expected to reach USD 1.79 billion by 2030, the global retinol market has been on the rise recently -- offering an easy and accessible way to achieve brighter, more youthful skin at home. Retinol works by helping to increase your skin's proliferation (creating new skin cells) and helps increase your skin's collagen production to help target acne, fine lines, wrinkles, and other common skin concerns.

Although many people find they have great success with retinol, it's not for everyone. Not only can retinol be harsh on certain skin types, but it's not always the best choice for those who prefer a more natural skincare routine or one that is plant-based. That's why many people opt for Bakuchiol, a natural retinol alternative. Below, we'll break down the hype about Bakuchiol and its potential benefits for your skin.
What is bakuchiol?
Bakuchiol comes from a plant grown in India known as Psoralea corylifolia. Also known as the "babchi" plant, this botanical extract has been used in ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic practices for centuries. Recently, Bakuchiol has gained popularity in the skincare world, offering properties similar to those of the well-known retinol. Bakuchol extract is offered in many forms to add to your skincare routine, such as in serums or moisturizers. Sometimes, Bakuchiol is also combined with other botanicals, such as jojoba or rose hip, to help improve effectiveness.
What are the benefits of bakuchiol?

Read more
Mineral vs chemical sunscreen: Which one should you actually use?
mens skincare routine changes to make man in sunscreen

Even on cloudy days or days spent indoors, wearing sunscreen every day is a non-negotiable part of a healthy skincare routine. Not only can excess sunlight cause premature aging of the skin, but it's also critical to wear sunscreen to protect against various types of skin cancer. When choosing sunscreen, you'll find two main types -- chemical and mineral sunscreen. The mineral vs chemical sunscreen debate has been an ongoing one, as both forms of sunscreens have their pros and cons. Below, we'll dive into the pros and cons of each type of sunscreen to help you choose the best option.

Pros and cons of chemical sunscreen
Chemical sunscreens, often made of chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, or other similar chemicals, are absorbed into the skin when applied. This type of sunscreen is generally easy to apply to the face and body and absorbs UV rays that touch the skin.
Pro: hydrating for the skin
Due to the thin and blendable nature of chemical sunscreens, they are generally hydrating for the skin and can be added to cosmetics such as moisturizers, skin tints, or foundation products.
Pro: sweat and water resistant
Many cosmetics that market "SPF included" contain chemical sunscreens. People also like chemical sunscreens because they are quite sweat and water-resistant.
Pro: no white residue
Chemical sunscreens also blend well into the skin and do not leave any white residue. If you think back to the sunscreen you used as a kid, chances are it was a chemical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens have become more popular in recent years as consumers are paying more attention to the ingredients in their skincare and health products.
Con: not the best for sensitive skin
Although chemical sunscreens are easy to use, they are not always a great choice for those with skin conditions or sensitive skin. The chemicals found in this type of sunscreen can cause allergic reactions or worsen conditions such as melasma.
Con: chemical ingredients and environmental impact
In addition, some of the chemicals used in these products may be linked to cancer, as trace amounts get absorbed into the bloodstream. Another con to consider is the environmental impact of chemical sunscreen, which may damage reefs and other marine environments.

Read more