Winter makes my skin feel all sorts of ways, but “good” certainly isn’t one of them. Below-zero temps and whipping winds leave it screaming for some much-needed TLC all winter long. If you’re like me and unsure where to begin your search for intense hydration that will heal your face, never fear. I asked College Fashionista community members from cold regions across the globe for the holy-grail creams, oils, and lotions that protect their skin against some of the worst weather in the world. Keep reading for the go-to products students are using from Chicago to Stockholm and beyond.
If You Just Want a Basic Staple
The Product: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
Developed by dermatologists to fight extra-dry skin, this moisturizer has been a winter staple for years. It’s packed with three ceramides, which are actually naturally found in the skin, Byrdie explains, and instrumental in keeping it moisturized. In other words, they’re essential for restoring the skin’s protective outer layer after a chilly day spent braving the elements.
Why We Love It: “I have been using this lotion every night for years, especially during the winter—it’s a lifesaver for my skin. It immediately decreases dryness and keeps my face even-toned and smooth even in the colder months. I always have it on hand, even on vacations, because it’s become such a staple in my skincare routine.” — Lexa Krajewski, Boston University (Boston, Massachusetts) class of 2019
If You Have Eczema
The Product: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturizer
This oil-free moisturizer stands out from the pack because of its unique gel formula, which promises to quickly absorb into the skin so it can instantly quench dryness. It contains hyaluronic acid—which, according to Byrdie, is a naturally occurring hydration hero—leaving especially irritated skin feeling smooth and refreshed.
Why We Love It: “I have really bad eczema during the winter, and this just locks all my moisture in and keeps my skin looking super supple and refreshed.” — Mallory Hart, Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, Ohio) class of 2020
If You Want Your Moisturizer to Double as Primer
The Product: Glossier Priming Lotion
Looking for a soothing product that works as a primer as well? Glossier’s lightweight lotion could be the solution. This formula contains hyaluronic acid—a popular ingredient that Byrdie calls one of the “most moisturizing compounds in existence”—allowing the product to plump and hydrate. Make this a part of your nighttime routine by slathering it onto dry skin before bed, or use it in the morning as a base under makeup.
Why We Love It: “Not only is this great for moisturizing, but it reduces redness, improves texture, and leaves a dewy finish. I love that I can use it in layers to build up to the perfect amount depending on what my skin needs each day. I use it every morning and night after I’ve washed my face.” — Amanda Peterson, North Dakota State University (Fargo, North Dakota) class of 2019
If You’re Looking for a Natural Solution
The Product: Almond Oil
Face oils have become increasingly popular in the world of skincare, so it’s no surprise that those living in colder climates are turning to the moisturizer alternative. Sweet almond oil is 100% natural, lightweight, and packed with vitamin E, which Byrdie explains is both hydrating and calming—a triple win in my book.
Why We Love It: “My holy-grail product is almond oil. I’ve used it as a moisturizer and a makeup remover for years, and I love it. I have really dry, red, and sensitive skin that gets even worse in the winter. I either put the oil on a cotton pad to remove makeup or in my hand and massage it on my face for extra moisture to nourish and soften my skin.”— Sara Martinsgård, Stockholms Tillskärarakademi (Stockholm, Sweden) class of 2019
If You Need Acne-Fighting Ingredients
The Product: Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturizer
Why not get the most out of your night cream? This moisturizer contains salicylic acid, a Byrdie-endorsed acne-fighting ingredient, so you can rest easy knowing your product is simultaneously banishing breakouts and keeping skin hydrated—all at an affordable cost.
Why We Love It: “I’m a big fan of this product because it does double duty. It adds moisture to my skin and prevents acne. I’ve always had clear skin, and Clean & Clear helps to maintain that. When it’s very cold and dry out, I just layer it on liberally.” — Valerie Butler, Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts) class of 2018
If You’re Willing to Splurge
The Product: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream
First off, this moisturizer is cruelty-free, silicone-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, and vegan. On top of that, the formula contains sodium hyaluronate,, which has a much lower molecular size, Byrdie writes, allowing it to better penetrate the skin for more effective moisturizing benefits. With that and its dreamy whipped texture, you’ll want to use this every day of the year.
Why We Love It: “I love using the Drunk Elephant moisturizer in the winter because of its whipped consistency. This cream also provides intense hydration without leaving my skin feeling heavy or oily. It’s expensive, so I only use it in the winter when it’s super dry, but it saves my skin.” — Lauren Gewirtz, Michigan State University (East Lansing, Michigan) class of 2020
If You Hate Feeling Greasy
The Product: Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Extended Thirst Relief Moisturizer
Out of 2000 people who left reviews for this product on Clinique’s website, 97% said they would recommend it to a friend — so it’s safe to say this night cream is a fan favorite. Like many others our community has suggested, this oil-free formula is packed with hyaluronic acid, which, according to Byrdie, pulls moisture from the air into the skin to add major hydration.
Why We Love It: “I love this moisturizer because it gives a high boost of moisture to my skin without feeling heavy or greasy. I live in a place that has a very windy and cold climate, so I need something that will keep me moisturized all day. Clinique never lets me down. It also has an affordable price point and comes in a ton of different sizes, so I like to keep a smaller size in my bag to touch up if I feel like my skin needs some love.” — Margo Ghertner, Boston University (Boston, Massachusetts) class of 2020
If You Have Sensitive Skin
The Product: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration
Spending time in the brutal cold can be detrimental to dry faces, especially for those with sensitive skin. All the redness, dryness, and windburn that come with a harsh climate can sting, so a product that soothes sensitivity is much needed. Created with shea butter—which Byrdie explains will help seal in moisture—this soothing lotion calms and hydrates weather-torn skin in a breeze.
Why We Love It: “This is my all-time favorite moisturizer. It is extremely hydrating, which is perfect for the harsh Chicago winters I deal with. It has shea butter, antioxidants, and oatmeal that moisturize and repair my skin without being greasy. It’s perfect for me because I have sensitive and eczema-prone skin, so I like to use it on my body as well.” — Rachel Zuckerberg, Columbia College Chicago (Chicago, Illinois) class of 2020
If You’re Obsessed With Maintaining a Dewy Glow
The Product: Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer
Winter weather has been known to strip skin of its natural radiance, so combat the elements with a product that will keep your skin radiant and supple. According to Byrdie, the ginseng in this formula is “known for its moisturizing properties.” Combined with the brightening properties of coffee beans, this will give your skin the infusion of hydration and energy it needs.
Why We Love It: “I love using it because of its natural ingredients (no parabens, sulfates, or phthalates), which give it a pleasant fragrance that’s never overbearing. The moisturizer is oil-free, which is a big deal for me. It gives me a great glow.” — Nina Morena, Concordia University (Montréeal, Québec, Canada) class of 2019
Which nighttime moisturizer do you swear by in the winter? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo by @thatgirlyursa