It’s zero degrees and zero humidity, and suddenly your precious parts have zero tolerance. Help is on the way! We called on winter skin whisperers—top spa pros and dermatologists—to help you ease the dryness and get soft and smooth all over.
Winter Woe: Chapped Cheeks
Your flaky, flushed face is a telltale sign that you’ve been braving the elements. “When you’re outside for long periods, the cold air extracts moisture from your skin,” says Francesca Fusco, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. The result: cracks in the skin’s barrier.
Smooth moves: Because exposure to harsh detergents and even water can strip moisture from your skin, switch to a creamy, sudsless cleanser like Aveda Botanical Kinetics Purifying Creme Cleanser ($21, aveda.com) or a no-rinse formula like Perricone MD Blue Plasma Cleansing Treatment ($39, perriconemd.com). Then slather on a barrier cream, which contains ceramides that fill in the tiny cracks in the skin. Try Avène Hydrance Rich Cream ($30, aveneusa.com). Still flaky? Use a 10-percent-glycolic-acid serum twice a week (after cleansing; before your night cream). We like Renée Rouleau AHA Smoothing Serum 10% ($42, reneerouleau.com). “Acids eliminate dead skin without causing irritation and help repair your barrier,” says Renée Rouleau, a celebrity esthetician in Dallas and a FITNESS advisory board member.
Winter Woe: Sore Lips
This time of year, your lips take a licking. It’s a vicious cycle: Your pucker feels dry so you wet your lips, which makes them dry out even more and eventually crack.
Smooth moves: Give your lips a mini facial, says Rachel Bachayev, the lead esthetician for the Bliss Spa in New York City. Put a drop of olive oil on lips. Gently rub them for one minute with a soft-bristle toothbrush to buff away dead skin. Top with a superhydrating balm. Skip the waxy sticks, which don’t penetrate and hydrate, and go with an emollient formula that contains nourishing shea butter or grapeseed oil. Try First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Lip Therapy ($12, sephora.com).
Winter Woe: Rough Elbows and Knees
These areas get a lot of wear and tear because they’re always moving and rubbing up against your clothing, says Regine Berthelot, the North America treatment manager for the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa in New York City. This causes a buildup of dead skin cells that can get thick, dry and even discolored.
Smooth moves: Rub elbows and knees with a lemon wedge, Bachayev says. The acid in it not only helps dissolve dead skin, but it also brightens darkened areas. Use a moisturizer containing ingredients that remove dead skin, such as urea, ammonium lactate or lactic acid. We like Curél Rough Skin Rescue Lotion ($8, drugstores). As you apply it, pinch the rough skin with your fingers to help push the active ingredients deeper into thickened skin, she explains.
Winter Woe: Scaly Legs
The skin on our legs gets particularly parched because it has fewer oil glands than other parts of the body. Plus, we tend not to exfoliate legs in winter because they’re under wraps, and “the dry, dead skin builds up and looks flaky and whitish or gray,” Fusco says.
Smooth moves: Hot showers can strip skin of moisture. Limit your time to 10 minutes. While you’re in there, give legs a daily rubdown with an exfoliating puff topped with body wash, Fusco says. Try Olay Fresh Outlast Body Wash ($6, drugstores). Apply body oil before you towel dry. “That will lock in all the moisture,” Berthelot says. Try The Body Shop Wild Argan Radiant Oil ($25, thebodyshop-usa.com). Seal the deal with a body lotion that’s rich in fatty acids, such as La Roche-Posay Lipikar Body Milk Lipid Replenishing Lotion ($40, laroche-posay.us).
Winter Woe: Battered Feet
Whether you’ve been pounding the pavement in running shoes or snow boots, your feet are under a lot of pressure. Overworked soles can develop thick calluses that can peel and crack, especially in winter.
Smooth moves: Soften the buildup by using a pumice stone or foot file daily. Step up your game with a battery-powered one such as Silk’n Pedi ($29; silkn.com). Finish with a generous coating of a thick ointment. Apply Cuccio Naturalé Hydrating Heel Treatment ($10, hbbeautybar.com) and slip on a pair of cotton socks overnight. For truly tough soles, Fusco suggests using Baby Foot ($25, babyfoot.com), an at-home treatment that’s the equivalent of a chemical peel for your feet.
Winter Woe: Sandpapery Hands
Washing your hands frequently and OD’ing on hand sanitizer help prevent colds and flu, but they also do a number of your skin, leaving you with roughed-up knuckles and ragged cuticles.
Smooth moves: Soften hands with a scrub. “Choose a sugar formula over a salt-based one,” Berthelot advises. “Salt has abrasive, sharp edges and absorbs water, so it dehydrates the skin,” she says. “Sugar crystals are rounder and they bond with water, so they’re hydrating.” Try Caudalie Divine Scrub ($38, sephora.com). Afterward, try this trick from Vinotherapie Mani at Caudalie spas: Cut a grape in half and rub it over your nails and cuticles. “The acid in the fruit helps exfoliate the dead skin,” Berthelot says. File down any ragged cuticles with a nail file. Finish with a generous application of a quick-absorbing moisturizer. If you can’t reapply it after every washing, look for a formula that lasts at least 24 hours, Bachayev says. “It will stay on for several washes.” A good one: Nivea Extended Moisture Body Lotion ($8, drugstores), which hydrates for 48 hours.
Winter Woe: Flaky Brows
Just like your scalp, the skin under your arches gets dry and is at risk for developing seborrheic dermatitis, aka dandruff.
Smooth moves: Apply a gentle (fine-grain) scrub to eyebrow skin. Try St. Ives Nourished & Smooth Oatmeal Scrub + Mask ($5, drugstores). Then work it through with a disposable mascara wand, which you can pick up at any beauty supply store. “Brush brows up and down and side to side to thoroughly exfoliate,” Berthelot says.