The 29Secrets team of beauty editors, writers and contributors collectively pack a wealth of skincare knowledge, along with extensive daily regimens to prove it. So we asked them how they plan to step up their skincare game for the cold Canadian winter ahead. Here, the team details the top-shelf products they’re using in their morning and evening routines.
Kristen Vinakmens, 29Secrets Editor-in-Chief
Skin Type & Routine:
“I have oily skin year-round, but as the weather gets colder, my skin gets dry and dehydrated and can veer on the sensitive side. I also have visible pores and blackheads that go with the territory of having oily skin. So my plan of attack in the winter months involves using light layers of moisture, including a nourishing oil and a hyaluronic acid serum to deeply hydrate while keeping oil production in check. Exfoliation is also huge for me to keep those dull surface layers at bay and to help improve skin texture and tone (I have some leftover sun damage/spots from the summer, which seemed to have ended only a minute ago!). And a humidifier is a must-have when the heat goes on; I keep one in my bedroom ay night so the heat doesn’t pull moisture from my skin.”
I start the day with a gentle cleanse because my skin just needs a quick refresh in the morning. Right now, I’m loving the Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar, a soap-free bar that cleanses gently while leaving my skin hydrated and balanced.
I started using hyaluronic acid (HA) in my routine and it’s a game-changer for me in terms of hydration, plumping up the skin and reducing the look of pores. (You’ve probably heard the stat about HA being able to hold 1,000 times its weight in water.) I’m using Indeed Labs Hydraluron and I love its simple fragrance-free formula that creates a subtle tightening effect.
I mix the hyaluronic acid with a vitamin C serum and the one I’m using now is Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum. Because of its oily-ish consistency, I only use a drop of the serum and swirl it around with the HA before applying to my skin. Packed with vitamin E, ferulic acid and L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), this gives me antioxidant protection and helps firm and brighten.
I follow up with moisturizer and right now, my skin is loving Cerave, which moisturizes without feeling heavy. It’s also packed with ceramides, which helps protect the skin’s moisture barrier, and niacinamide, which helps calm inflammation. If my skin is really feeling dry, I’ll mix in Drunk Elephant’s Marula Oil, which is high in antioxidants, and is super-lightweight and nourishing. My skin seriously just drinks this stuff in and glows afterwards.
No matter the season, sunscreen is a must. I use full-on sunscreen rather than a moisturizer with SPF, because I learned the hard way how the sun can damage your skin when you don’t even notice. I really like La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Sunscreen because it’s super-sheer, oil-free, and the tint sublty evens out my skin tone.
I like to do a double cleanse at night to take everything off, so I’ll use a cleansing oil or milk first to remove makeup. I really like Avéne’s Cleansing Milk, which is actually made for very sensitive skin types, but removes makeup really well and makes my skin feel super-soft and refreshed. That said, I still like to do a second cleanse to really get rid of everything, so I use Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel, which is soap-free and cleanses without stripping the skin (which is so important all year-long, not just in the winter).
After cleansing, I use an acid toner; alpha- and beta-hydroxy-acids are a must for anyone concerned with aging, acne, or pigmentation issues. My saviour is Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 and I’m using the one targeted for pigmentation issues (PIGM 400). This stuff is like a facial in a bottle — (it includes a mix of acids and niacinamide) — and I use it once a day in the evening to slough away dead skin cells and it gives me more even, bright and glowy skin. It also helps any skincare I layer over top work so much better.
Next, I’ll use a serum and go-to is Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair. Infused with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and peptides, this serum just makes my skin look radiant and is actually a great primer for makeup (so I’ll also use it during the day as well).
I also like to layer on other active ingredients at night and I love The Ordinary’s Niacinamide + Zinc, which is prescribed as an anti-blemish formula, but niacinamide is also great for brightening the skin and for overall anti-aging.
Fo eye cream, I just started using a really great one from Neostrata, from its AquaYouth line, which is packed with hyaluronic acid. It’s seriously hydrating and feels rich but also somehow lightweight. It’s coming out in the new year.
Lastly, I’ll seal everything in with my Cerave lotion mixed with a couple of drops of the Drunk Elephant Marula Oil, and my skin is ready for bed.
Alyssa Tria, beauty contributor
Skin Type & Routine:
“Throughout most of the year, my skin looks and feels super, super oily but is usually clear of acne (besides the occasional period-pimples). But as soon as the weather gets colder, it turns into the complete opposite: dull and super dry, especially around the nose and mouth area. Worst of all, I get the nastiest pores/acne around my chin, nose and forehead. Although my skin changes drastically with the weather, my skincare routine (day and night) pretty much stays the same all year round. Besides being opposed to change, my oily skin doesn’t react very well with heavier moisturizers ” plus, I hate the feeling of having a lot of product on my face. Luckily for me, the products I use all year-round caters to all my skin changes. For extra moisture and to help control my seasonal-acne there are a few special additions to my winter routine.”
When I wake up, I wash my face with just water. To prep my skin before makeup, I use the Institut Esthederm Revitalizing Cellular Water as a skincare primer and then gently push it into my skin. I love this product so much, I think I’ll also be using Cellular water all year round. I then apply the Zorah Intensive Hydrating Serum all over my face and neck.
Next comes moisturizer. Again, I hate heavy creams and moisturizers, so my best alternative is the Body Shop Oils of Life Intensely Revitalising Gel Cream. Infused with Black Cumin seed oil, Camellia seed oil, Rosehip seed oil, this gel cream replenishes and revitalizes skin. What I love about this gel is that it’s super light-weight and quickly melts into the skin, without leaving a greasy residue. My skin looks and feels clean and hydrated.
To ensure dewy-looking skin, I love using a moisturizing primer. I love using both Korres Greek Yoghurt Smoothie Priming Moisturizer and Under Eye Priming Moisturizer. Both products are super light in texture but are packed with super-hydrating qualities to deliver the best canvas for crease-free makeup. The under eye primer also comes with a ceramic tip applicator, which helps soothe puffiness and tired eyes from a late-night Netflix binge. I also love using the applying this product onto the dry corners of my nose.
Next comes foundation. I have the I super dry and dull skin in the winter, so I love dropping face oils into my foundation for the ultimate dewy finish. This season, I’ve been using the Decléor Aromessence Néroli Amara Oil Serum. Not only does the one drop give my skin a boost of radiance, but this 100% natural face oil serum helps soothe and keeps my skin hydrated for the entire day. Even for an oil, this wonder product is non-sticky, and delivers zero shine. Best part? It smells so amazing and helps awaken your senses.
I use Belif Cleansing Herb Water to remove my makeup. Unlike makeup removers that I’ve used in the past, this cleanser contains a Tri-herb Tea Complex to gently remove all my makeup without leaving an oily residue or irritating dry patches on my face.
I then wash my face with the Eve Lom Cleanser. This is the only cleanser that I trust to deeply remove impurities.
New to my skincare routine (day and night) is the Institut Estederm Revitalizing Cellular Water. This product has become the star of my overall skin care routine. Acting as primer, after a shower or before applying anything onto my face, I spray Cellular Water all over my face to to help my skin absorb all the goodness and lock in moisture from the other products followed after ” which is key because I don’t like using heavy creams. Made with mineral salts and trace elements, Cellular Water is designed to energize the skin to function at it’s full potential. For an extra boost of hydration, I even like to end my skincare routine by spraying Cellular Water all over my face and then gently pushing it into my skin.
Next comes eye cream: I use the NeoStrata All-in-One Eye Serum. This ultra-light moisturizing eye serum helps correct the look puffiness and dark circles and tightens the skin around the eye area.
I do all my acne-fighting at night. To reduce breakouts and reduce the look of texture and pores, the final product of my night care routine is the Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Serum. I’ve been struggling with seasonal breakouts for almost three years now, and this super-affordable product delivers the fastest, most effective results. Made with 4% glycolic acid, this wonder serum helps reduce the size of pores overnight. I literally wake up with brand new skin. The only downside: this serum is super sticky. It’s not heavy like a night cream, but it feels almost like wearing a mask over night. I only use this serum during the cold weather.
Janna Zittrer, fashion contributor
Skin Type & Routine:
“I have a combination of dehydrated and blemish-prone skin, which makes skincare a challenge any time of year. Winter is especially tough, because I need to incorporate heavier creams to combat the cold air outside and dry heat indoors while still trying to keep breakouts at bay. After plenty of trial and error, I find a (relatively) simple routine works best for me. That means a gentle exfoliator every morning, followed by a mix of brightening and hydrating serums, an anti-aging eye cream and a nourishing-but-not-too-rich moisturizer. At night, I use a balm cleanser to remove my makeup, followed by a refining serum, hydrating serum and then my eye and moisturizing creams. In the dead of winter, I also like to add a facial oil on top of my moisturizer to add extra hydration and lock everything in.”
Exfoliator: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant It’s so gentle and removes dirt and dead skin cells without irritating my skin.
Brightening serum: Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Day Serum It’s nice and light, smells amazing and pairs well with my hydrating serum.
Hydrating serum: Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel I love how the gel formula seeps right into my parched skin.
Eye cream: Caudalie Premier Cru The Eye Cream When it comes to my under-eye area, there is no cream too rich, and this highly concentrated product fights the darn signs of aging that are starting to creep in.
Moisturizer: Institut Esthederm Intensive Propolis Cream I recently discovered this cream, which contains purifying propolis to fight breakouts. It’s also anti-flammatory, so it soothes any redness, and boosts collagen production (always a plus for dry skin).
Cleansing balm: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm It goes on like butter and wipes away clean, taking all my makeup (even the waterproof kind) with it.
Refining serum: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum Total game-changer. This serum has not only helped clear up my skin but also made my overall complexion so much smoother and brighter. I’m in LOVE.
Facial Oil: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil Sensing a pattern here? I’m clearly very into the brand, and this was the product that hooked me. Once I conceded that oils do not cause breakouts, I was able to appreciate how this one is loaded with antioxidants and anti-microbial properties (so it actually helps combat breakouts). It’s also extremely hydrating without feeling too heavy — perfect for a wintertime skincare boost.
Vibhu Gairola, beauty contributor
Skin Type & Routine:
“My skin type turns from combination/oily to normal/dry in the face of a Canadian winter — hat being said, I always treat my skin like it’s the most delicate thing in the world and seldom ply it with derm-strength actives, so the overall approach has always been to act like I have incredibly sensitive skin. My main beauty goal is ‘maximum glow with minimal stress,’ so my regimen is full of powerful and protective hydrators that soothe and nourish while plying me with happy fatty oils that keep my moisture barrier plush. A key trick in my book when it comes to winter is layers — where I would normally apply less than 5 creams and serums in total, in the cold, I can apply up to eight to 10 complementary skincare items just to ensure that each section of my face (from T-zone to beard zone) is properly enriched with the good stuff before stepping into that wind chill. (I also exfoliate more regularly in the winter.) I always travel with a bottle of hydrating rosewater spray in my bag, whether I’m going across the city or leaving the country — regular spritzes in air-conditioned environments are the key to maintaining some semblance of control over your skin. One thing to note: Lots of things in my routine come from Asian beauty circles.”
SU:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick Each one of these sticks contains at least 1,000 fermented roses and is low-pH, so I always get to start off the day cleansing my skin while breathing in one of my favourite scents! (Roses are a recurring ingredient in my routine.)
Kikumasamune High Moisture Sake Lotion I love fermented products of any kind at all because the natural ingredients have been chemically broken down for optimal absorption and the difference shows (with consistent use). Plus, this toner smells like a mix between bananas and bubblegum so it’s a pretty effective cheer-up tool in the morning.
Missha FTE No K-beauty regimen is complete without a solid essence, and Missha’s Intensive Moist First Treatment Essence — long touted as an effective dupe for SK-II’s legendary FTE of its own, which Cate Blanchett and Fan Binbing both apparently use — has been queen on the scene for a while now thanks to its high concentration of restorative fermented yeast and niacinamide.
Lush Eau Roma My holy grail toner, this one smells absolutely heavenly and works well on the angriest skin. (And yes, I use two toners each time I wash my face — one to swab with a cotton round right after cleansing, to remove residue, and one spritzed on after the essence stage to seal the essence in.)
The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% (apply to lips and eye contour especially) Brightening products will work twice as well if you also use pre-emptive serums to block out potential oxidation before it even happens. Resveratrol, a plant compound found in grapes, is both an antioxidant and a stimulant of enzymatic antioxidant production on the skin, which means that it both protects and stimulates protective functions. (It’s a superstar in the Caudalie line, but comes with a much lower price tag with The Ordinary.) I also double-dab my eye contour area with serum in place of an eye cream — I find the skin in that area responds better to thin serums than heavy creams.
Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream Another holy grail product of mine because I love roses and also because the rose wax in this cream is pretty good at forming a beeswax-style impenetrable layer on your skin which works well both as a primer and as a guard against sharp winds. I once read in the late 2000s that Cate Blanchett uses this cream, and even if that’s not true (or never was), this moisturizer has been my ride or die day cream since. (I do a lot of things just because Cate Blanchett does them, it turns out.)
Dr. G Brightening Up Sun SPF All the good skincare in the world is useless if not protected by quality sunscreen. This one has a peach tinge that (mercifully) doesn’t leave a white cast on even brown skin.
Caudalie Grape Water To set makeup, this is an incredibly calming and fine mist.
Drench by ESHO This is a powerful and protective lip protector for day.
Ole Henriksen Uncover The Truth 3-in-1 Melting Cleanser In the evening, I prefer starting off with a cleanser that has more glide to rub off dirt; this one also has a lovely dose of rosehip and cherry that smells very energizing.
Neogen Wine Peeling Pads I exfoliate more regularly in the winter and tend to go for dual-purpose exfoliators like this one. The texture of the gauze itself helps with physical exfoliation while AHAs exfoliate chemically and resveratrol boosts the antioxidant quotient on the skin’s surface. (Plus, this smells like wine jelly, which is always a slightly deluxe treat even if you exfoliate in a hurry.)
May Coop Raw Sauce The colder it gets, the more layers I apply, so as the winter deepens, I usually use a second essence as well which is heftier on the hydration. (I apply after the Missha FTE – -first treatment essences should go on first as the name says!) Made with 93% maple tree sap, Raw Sauce is an excellent deep-reaching hydrator because the molecular size of maple tree sap is smaller than that of water and therefore the good stuff just penetrates deeper into the skin — you’ll notice from the very way your skin even absorbs the stuff.
The Ordinary Rosehip Oil I always use rosehip oil as a serum because it’s deeply hydrating, has vitamin A and because I just generally like the idea of rose-fruit-oil on my face. This is my last step in the summer, and I often use rosehip oil instead of nightcreams — applying a moist base and covering it with a layer of rosehip seems to work better than using heavy creams. (I also dab rosehip on the eye contour and lip area as a substitute for eye cream and lip conditioner.)
Currently digging Erborian’s Ginseng Shot Mask because it smells amazing and brightens my skin tone using licorice extracts, but any sheet mask will do at this step. I do at least 3 a week!
Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream Night creams shouldn’t just sink in, they should rebuild — ceramide is a key component of our skin’s upper layer so I try to replenish it nightly, always over-applying creams just a teeeeeeensy bit so that my face and neck can stay hydrated at the epidermal level while the essences and serums can do their job at the sub-epidermal levels.
COSRX Rice Overnight Mask You can’t survive winter without a sleeping mask to keep your skin satisfied throughout the night, and when picking masks like that, I tend to go for hyper-soothing and moisturizing options. The scent is mild, the niacinamide is appropriately calming, and most importantly, the added dose of ceramides once again complements my night cream, ensuring that if the skin needs to pull from any product to rebuild itself, it will pull from the overlying sleeping mask instead of sapping moisture from the sub-epidermal layers. (COSRX also makes a really good Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream that I often use instead of the Dr. Jart+ one above.)
Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask This one is just a personal and gluttonous preference — I just like going to bed with something sweet on my lips. (Thankfully, the mask also works well at protecting lips.)
Adriana Ermter, beauty contributor
Skin Type & Routine:
“I have normal to combination skin and, sigh, crow’s feet. My skin is also prone to sensitivities that, seemingly, have no rhyme or reason and can leave me with spotty red hives, itching skin or a red face. Not. Cute. Add cold wintertime weather and scalding indoor heat into the equation and my skin dries out and looks craggy and dull. So while I’m always within arm’s reach of Aveda Lavender Fleurs Oil Singular Note, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 45 and Clé de Peau Radiant Cream Foundation, I like to add a few key items into my winter routine for extra exfoliation and hydration.”
Pretty Cosmetics, Love Affair Unscented Coconut Serum is my cold-weather face wash. It also plays double duty as my facial serum. I’m lazy so I love a product that can really pull its weight. My trick: hop in the shower, rub the coconut-y goodness all over my face, do everything else, then wash the serum off and pat (not rub or wipe) my face dry with the towel so that the serum stays on my skin.
I have to swap my lighter, more matte daytime lotion for a thicker formulation otherwise I get red face from the cold and wind. I L.O.V.E. Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream because it absorbs super fast and doesn’t leave me shiny despite the layer of coconut serum I have on underneath. The delicate rose scent also makes me feel young and pretty. Swear to God.
Dior Créme de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm Are you noticing a rosy theme here? Me too. But rose oil is a natural humectant, which means that it helps keep moisture locked into your skin. In this case, my lips. And I need it. I talk a lot, plus I’m a lip-licker so this balm prevents dehydration and cracking even in the coldest temperatures.
I exfoliate every day, but during the winter time I have to up my ante. BeautyRX by Dr. Schultz, The Progressive Peel At-home Glycolic System is a miracle worker because it doesn’t irritate my fickle skin, eliminates all of the gross dirt, grime and dead skin cells off my face and smooths out my fine lines. I seriously wake up glowing. Even my cat said so.
The first time I rubbed on Elizabeth Arden, Eight Hour Cream Protectant Nighttime Miracle Moisturizer, went to sleep and woke up the next morning, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The formulation’s heavy-duty hydration combined with soothing lavender oil plumped up my skin, making it smooth and soft like a baby’s bum. Plus, the red rash I’d gone to bed with was gone so there’s that. Now I use it every winter at least three times a week and it works great over top of The Progressive Peel.
Main image via TheFile.com