How to look vaguely normal when you have the driest winter skin on the planet

To cope with dry winter skin, stare pensively into the mountains. Or, check out the list below.

As I’ve mentioned, I have what my mom calls “lousy Irish skin like [my] father’s.” During warmer months, this works out OK, but I live in the Northeast, where we have this thing called winter (the occasional warm spell notwithstanding). No matter what I do, my winter skin is bright red, extremely dry, and susceptible to becoming more of the prior two descriptors at the slightest provocation. Sound familiar? Below, a few pieces of advice  on how to look vaguely normal (the best I can hope for) in even the harshest weather:

Don’t wash your face.

OK, so this sounds dramatic, and if you want to wash your face, I won’t stop you. I will, however, recommend Shea Moisture African Black Soap (probably don’t buy this from Amazon — it’ll be less than $5 a bar at your local drugstore), which I can use to wash my face when the temperature is consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.


When it’s colder? The alternative I’ve turned to is La Tourangelle Avocado Oil. I keep the above bottle on a shelf in my shower, though it’s apparently supposed to be housed in the kitchen and used for stuff like salad dressing. After covering my face with a teaspoon or two of oil, I steam my face with a hot (but not scalding) washcloth for 30 seconds to give it a chance to sink in. Then, I wipe off the excess oil and enjoy the rest of my shower, because unlike when I use a facial cleanser, I don’t have to slather moisturizer on within 10 seconds to prevent my skin from cracking.

Moisturize aggressively.

Maybe during May or June, you can get away with regular old moisturizing lotion (I can’t). But in January and February, it’s time to call in the big guns:


This vat of slime — similar to what we used to remove stage makeup when I did plays in high school — is now my daily moisturizer. I often reapply it to my T-zone, also known as the part of the face that is oily for normal people but extra dry for me.

Invest in a balaclava.


That’s it. Get one. Preferably one that screams “whimsical” vs. “armed robbery.”

Do some cardio.

There’s a scene in Rufi Thorpe’s The Girls from Corona del Mar (which, incidentally, I loved) where the narrator describes a friend’s boyfriend as having strangely baby-like skin because of his job as a chef in a very hot kitchen. In other words, sweaty = glowing. My skin can look downright dewy in the worst winter months — if and only if I actually bother to hop on the treadmill. So zip up your ankle-length L.L. Bean Ultrawarm Coat (or one of those Canada Goose jackets everyone in New York is somehow able to afford) over your workout clothes and head to the gym.

Stay in bed until April. 

Look, it’s not even March and I’m sick of looking like this. Realistically, can I burrow under the covers for the next month or so? No. But if you have zero obligations to other people and can take Bed Days until Easter Sunday, this is the path I recommend.



2 thoughts on “How to look vaguely normal when you have the driest winter skin on the planet

  1. I already had dry skin. Then I moved to Denver. Now I’m perpetually parched. Things I love: Boots Botanics Organic cream face wash and their organic face oil (which I mix into my Tarte BB Tinted Moisturizer for day or just put on after my moisturizer for night), sleeping with a humidifier in my room, acid exfoliation (seems weird, but using the Pixi overnight glycolic serum helps clear away the dry skin and make the mositurizing stuff really sink in more), Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector, and salt scrub from Trader Joe’s that is super oily.


  2. For those, like me, whose main issue is extremely dry body skin, may I recommend straight up Baby Oil immediately after a short shower? Slather yourself with oil while still wet, then pat dry. You will notice a tangible difference in two or three days.

    Liked by 1 person

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