Here’s how to keep your skin hydrated all winter—even when heavy moisturizers make you break out


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Meet Wellness Collective, our immersive curriculum with Athleta that hooks you up with actionable advice from the smartest experts and brand founders in wellness right now. Get the goods at our monthly event series in New York City plus our online one-month wellness plans. Here, holistic aesthetician Shani Hillian answers your most-pressing questions about winter skin care.

It’s the ultimate winter skin-care conundrum: You know you’re supposed to slather on all the hydrating products to keep the cold air from drying out your skin, but anything more than a barely there moisturizer sends your complexion to breakout city.

So what are you supposed to do? You asked for tips on finding that elusive winter glow, and holistic aesthetician Shani Hillian answered, sharing intel on how her “keep it simple” skin-care philosophy can help even the most troubled complexions.

“When a client approaches me with a skin ailment they are struggling with, whether it be acne, eczema, or dermatitis, my main goal is to do less,” Hillian says. “Our skin is so delicate, and when an unexpected skin condition occurs, the worst thing you can do is start treating it with three different products all at once.”

Scroll down for more of her top tips for winter skin care so you can glow all season long.

1. Opt for a water-based moisturizer

Sorry—if you were hoping to ditch moisturizers completely to avoid breaking out, Hillian nixed that idea right away. “The biggest misconception is that folks think they don’t need to moisturize at all,” she says. “The key to adding hydration to oily skin is to pick the correct products for your skin type.”

Her advice is to skip over the creamy, thick moisturizers, and instead opt for non-comedogenic (meaning they won’t clog pores or cause acne) serums and water-based moisturizers with hyaluronic acid to draw moisture into the skin. She also suggests using an oil cleanser in place of acne-based cleansers (even if you’re breaking out!) because they can be too harsh, which causes dryness.

While we’re talking products, her number-one overall tip for taking care of skin over the winter is… wait for it: wear sunscreen. Nope, SPF isn’t just a summertime thing.

“Wear SPF daily, even when there’s no sun,” she says. “There’s a big misconception that just because it’s cloudy the UV rays aren’t out. That’s 100 percent false. A significant amount of UVA rays penetrate through the clouds, so protection is key!”

2. Stay hydrated

You might file hydration away as another summertime issue, but prioritizing your your eight glasses a day is one of the purest ways to support your skin, all year long.

“Skin health is a direct reflection of internal health,” Hillian says. “Remember, the water we consume has to go to every other organ first before it reaches our skin, so if you’re not drinking enough water, we don’t get enough to nourish our skin, causing dehydration, build up, etc.”

Aside from loading up on regular H2O, she also recommends eating foods with high water content such as cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, oranges, and grapefruit. Winter citrus has never sounded so good.

3. Exfoliate

Exfoliation might seem like the last thing you’d want to do during the winter when your skin is more sensitive, but Hillian says it’s actually crucial to preventing dryness. For sensitive skin, she suggests a very gentle exfoliant that also provides hydration such as jojoba beads, rosehip beads, or soapwart.

“We shed over 40,000 skin cells daily and some are left behind,” she says. “If we do not remove the dead skin cells, the oil gets stuck beneath the surface, causing more acne and inflammation, while the surface of your skin feels dry and textured.” Woah—did we just solve the whole winter breakouts problem?

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Top photo: Stocksy/Leah Flores

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