Skin-Care Tips

‘I’m a Dermatologist in One of the Coldest Cities in America—These Are the Under-$20 Products I Use All Winter Long’

Photo: Courtesy of University of Minnesota
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As I sit writing this, it is 7°F—which, with the wind chill, feels like -12°F—in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So it's safe to say that Minneapolis-based board-certified dermatologist Ronda Farah, MD, knows how to keep skin protected as the temperature falls. For starters, thick moisturizers are her best friend during cold weather.

"In the colder months our skin gets drier, so it can get a little bit more irritated," says Dr. Farah, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota. "Also in the winter, things like eczema or other skin diseases can dry out and get worse, so switching to thicker moisturizers can be really helpful."

Dr. Farah relies on basic yet effective products to moisturize her skin throughout the winter. "I like things that are bland, have limited fragrances, have low amounts of alcohol in them, and don't have a lot of extra ingredients that can be irritating," she says. All of her favorites are items you can find at the drugstore. "I'm not a 'Let's spend thousands of dollars on skin care' sort of person. I'm a little bit more of a minimalist, especially because it can get really expensive."


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Dr. Farah's favorite body moisturizers for cold weather

CeraVe Face Moisturizer,PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion
Aquaphor Healing Ointment — $7.00 to $14.00

“For the body, I really like Aquaphor,” says Dr. Farah. “Aquaphor is ointment-based, so it provides maximum moisture.” This all-over balm acts as an occlusive, locking moisture into the skin and preventing it from evaporating. Dr. Farah also loves that the formula doesn’t have a super-long ingredients list, which means it likely won’t irritate your skin.

Vanicream Moisturizing Cream
Vanicream Moisturizing Cream — $7.00 to $14.00

When Aquaphor feels too thick, Dr. Farah chooses a cream from Vanicream. “A lot of dermatologists up here in Minnesota will pick Vanicream, which is a product made at Mayo Clinic,” she says. “Apply it from the neck down within 10 minutes of showering to really lock the moisture into the skin.” Dr. Farah also recommends keeping that shower water warm, not hot, to avoid dehydrating the skin.


Dr. Farah's favorite face moisturizers for cold weather

Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion
Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion — $14.00

For the face, Dr. Farah loves this lotion. It has a “low amount of fragrance and additives, meaning less chemicals on the skin, provides good moisturization and is from a reputable source,” she says.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream — $12.00

Dr. Farah is a huge fan of this cream in the winter. It contains three essential ceramides to restore the skin’s protective barrier and hyaluronic acid to help retain moisture. If a cream is too greasy for you, Dr. Farrah recommends the CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($10), which is slightly lighter in texture.

Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Cream
Cetaphil Rich Hydrating Cream — $16.00

Dr. Farah also loves this cream from Cetaphil. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid to provide immediate and intense hydration. If this formula might be too thick for you, Dr. Farah recommends the Cetaphil Oil-Free Hydrating Lotion ($13).

Learn more about how a dermatologist cares for dry skin:

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