my winter skincare routine

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Over this last year, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with my skincare routine. A big reason for my newfound passion was that I developed severe hormonal cystic acne over the last couple of years. I realized I had to make my skin a priority not only so I could feel confident again but also prevent needless aging. I don’t mind getting older. I just don’t want to look old 😉 . Making my skin and overall health a priority this year has helped me start healing my cystic acne and improve texture and appearance.

Winter tends to complicate skin problems because of the cold weather and dryness of central heating. At baseline, I have dry acne-prone skin–doesn’t that sound fun?–so the extra dryness during winter is very irritating. Because of this, my skin really doesn’t tolerate fragrances or dye, so almost all the products I mention are free of fragrance, dyes, and essential oils. I’ve found keeping it simple is the best thing for my skin. Although my winter skincare routine may not pertain to everyone, hopefully, you’ll find something helpful to you!

winter skincare routine

morning routine


I start with a super gentle facewash to prevent over stripping my face. If I’m feeling super dry, I might skip the facewash and just splash my face with warm water. I’ve really been enjoying this facewash Simple Micellar Gel. It’s very gentle.


Next, while my face is still wet–not damp–I apply my moisturizer all over my face and neck and let it air dry completely. I learned this technique from Dr. Dray, and it’s absolutely genius to hydrate your skin! By applying moisturizer to wet skin, you essentially lock the water into your skin, resulting in hydrated skin versus simply putting a film of lotion on your face. I’ve been using two moisturizers. First, I put on this Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cream-Gel. It has hyaluronic acid in it, which helps draw water into your skin, so definitely apply to wet skin! Next, while my skin is still wet, I use my actual moisturizer. I’ve been trying out the Youth to The People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream. Although it’s designed to be a denser moisturizer, it’s very lightweight and doesn’t feel heavy or greasy.


My last step is always sunscreen. It’s just as important to use sunscreen in the winter as it is in the summer. Sunscreen is the number one way to prevent aging and protect your skin from sun damage. I apply a liberal amount all over my face, periorbital area, ears, neck, and chest. I use 30-50 SPF and make sure it protects against UVB and UVA. I prefer mineral sunscreens, like Zinc Oxide, because they seem to be gentler on my skin. Currently, I’ve been using Elta MD Clear UV 46 SPF. I love this product because it has niacinamide in it, so it helps even skin-tone and redness. I have noticed occasional pilling with this product though. I also really like Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral SPF 30.


This last year I’ve actually stopped wearing foundation because of my cystic acne. However, if I’m going out or just want to dress up a bit, I really like using a tinted sunscreen. I’ve been using Ilia tinted sunscreen 40 SPF. I like that it’s actually doing something for my skin and adds another layer of sun protection. I will say it’s a bit greasy looking, so I use a little translucent mineral powder over the top. I love the Ilia Multi-Stick for Cheek and Lip and use this even if I don’t wear the tinted sunscreen. I always wear mascara.

night time routine


In the evening, I do a two-step cleansing system. First, I go in with an oil cleanser or balm on DRY skin. I’ve been using Neutrogena Melting Balm. Starting with oil helps dissolve the oily makeup, mascara, sunscreen, and pollution from the day. I massage the oil balm all over my face and neck for about 60 seconds. Then I rinse with warm water. Next, I use a pump of my facewash, rub it together in my hands, gently massage it on my face for a minute and then rinse with warm water. I use a stronger facewash at night since I want to get rid of all the oil residue and use a heavier moisturizer to balance this out. Currently using Boscia Cleansing Gel.


Moisturizing is probably the most important part of my winter skincare routine. Just as in the morning, I apply it to my wet face. Because it’s the evening, I go in with a heavier, more occlusive moisturizer. I still start with Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cream-Gel first and then go in with the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream. I don’t use eye cream, so I make sure I put this all under and around my eyes.


After I moisturize, I usually go in with some treatment. My dermatologist prescribed Adapalene 0.3%. It’s a retinol product that treats acne, hyperpigmentation, and aging. You can buy adapalene over the counter in 0.1% concentration. Retinols can be highly irritating, so I don’t use other products with active ingredients the nights I use retinol. Recently, I’ve been applying this 2-3 nights a week. I put it on directly before bed and let it dry completely before laying it down on my pillow. On my non-retinol nights, I’ll either stop after my moisturizer, use an AHA/BHA product (chemical exfoliants – help dissolve dead skin and clean pores), or do a moisturizing mask. If I use a chemical exfoliant, I just dab it all over my face and let it dry. If I use a mask, I’ll put it on after my moisturizer and let it dry before laying down.

So there it is! I probably went overboard with details, but hopefully, you found this helpful!

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Winter Skincare Routine | Caitlin De Lay Blog | Beauty | Lifestyle

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