Winter Skincare Routine

We're in the midst of another cold spell (whaddup, YYC!) and I've meant to do a winter skincare routine post forever. It's going to be July before we know it - I hope - so I'd better do it now!

winter skincare

My skin would be best described as normal/dry, and the dry side comes out in full force in the winter months. I've got a handful...or two or three... of products I keep on rotation to use in different combinations to battle dry winter skin and not cause any other issues in the process. My biggest battle has got to be the skin on and around my nose. Not only do I get the classic redness around my nostrils, but this is also where my skin gets the driest/flakiest (constant nose blowing doesn't help!) AND it's where I get blackheads. My skin is still farrrrr from perfect, but this is what I've found works best for me - so far, anyway!


Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative that stimulates the production of new skin cells. By quickening the turnover process (a form of chemical exfoliation), making (ideally) your skin look younger, firmer, and brighter. It's said to help unclog pores and reduce wrinkles and dark spots. Most people experience some redness and flaking as they build up a tolerance to retinol, but once that adjustment period is over, you'll probably be delighted with what it does for your skin.

This is just a really basic intro to retinol, so if you haven't used it before - do your research first! There are tooons of online sources that will tell you all about it.

So, I've been using the First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate. This is considered a beginner's retinol because most retinols are around 2%. Most people aren't quite as sensitive to it as I am. I use this once every three or four days, and you only need about a pea-size amount so it will last you a while. If I use it any more than this I dry out waaaay more, but most people can get away with using it every other day or even every day - play around to see what works best for you, but start by waiting a couple of days in between because it takes at least two days until you'll flake.


I have a few exfoliators that I love, and I usually use them 3-4 times a week. They help remove your oldest, dead skin cells, leaving fresher and brighter skin underneath and helping prevent clogged pores. When retinols cause flaking on your skin, it's important to use a gentle exfoliator occasionally to make sure the skin that is getting sloughed off actually comes off your face rather than just sitting there causing problems.

These are the ones I like:

Dr. Brandt Skincare microdermabrasion age-defying exfoliator (probably my favorite one ever, but it's a bit pricey)

REN Micro Polish Cleanser (this is also a really good one, and it's half the price of the Dr. Brandt one. I do find you have to use more to really feel it working, though)

Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Revitalizing Face Polish (a super affordable option that works really, really well! A bottle lasts you forever, too. You can mix this powder just with water or with your favorite cleansing oil, etc.)


I use a serum every day. Serums are meant to go on after cleansing and before moisturizing to deliver a higher concentration of ingredients to your skin than a moisturizer.

OLEHENRIKSEN Truth Serum® - This is my favorite serum - it packs a powerful punch of vitamin C! It brightens, firms, and hydrates, and I love how quickly it's absorbed into your skin.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair® Hydrating Serum is a bit less expensive, and it's also good, but not as good as Truth Serum, IMO!

I've heard really good things about these REN serums:

REN Keep Young and Beautiful Firming and Smoothing Serum

REN Radiance Perfection Serum

I haven't tried them myself yet, but I'm planning to because people rave about them.


I'm a bad girl and I don't fully wash my face every day. I usually only wear makeup once or twice a week (thanks to working at home). I use La Roche-Posay MICELLAR WATER ULTRA REACTIVE SKIN (thanks, KELS!) on a cotton pad to cleanse my face, though - I love how gentle it is! When I'm being a good girl and doing a full blown face wash, I use this  L’Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil. It's suuuuper gentle and moisturizing. I like to use it with my CLINIQUE Cleansing by Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush, and it makes my skin feel sooo clean but not dried out.


A toner is something you apply after you cleanse and before you apply a serum or moisturizer. There are two toners I use most of the time, one when I want something stronger, and one that's more gentle.

There's a reason the Pixi Glow Tonic is a cult favourite: it's really that good! It's inexpensive yet gives the same results as many more expensive products I've used. It's another form of exfoliating and purifying the skin and the ingredients in it like aloe and ginseng prevent it from irritating your skin. It's definitely worth a try if you're in the market for something like this - I get it at  Shopper's.

The other toner I love is the Laneige Power Essential Skin Toner for Normal to Dry Skin. When I still want to tone my skin but I need something even more gentle than the Glow Tonic, it's my go-to. It's still available on the Laneige website, but it's not on Sephora for some reason.


Moisturizing is my favorite. It feels so good and I can't get enough of it.

I'm lucky that I can rotate the moisturizers I use and not experience major breakouts or reactions from them (knock on wood).  These are my favorites.

Origins Drink Up™ Intensive Overnight Mask to Quench Skin's Thirst - This is my go-to moisturizing mask. I even brought it with me to the hospital when I was there for a while. I also like to put it on my face before I fly. I use it once or twice a week. I put a hearty layer on before I go to sleep and wake up with soft and bouncy skin. Love it!

SUNDAY RILEY Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream - This is a light, nice-smelling moisturizer that I especially like using before I put on makeup. It absorbs quickly and isn't greasy, but definitely makes your skin feel nice and soft and smooth.

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil - It's no surprise this stuff is rated so well on Sephora. It makes your skin feel soooo soft and I love that I can put it on before makeup application and let it soak in or I can layer it on at night before bed.

Two other oils I really love:

Josie Maran 100 percent Pure Argan Oil and tarte Maracuja Oil

I got a sample of the Puretem Purevera Facial Skin Emulsifier in an Ipsy bag a while ago, and now I'm hooked. It's a gentle (I know I use that word a lot) moisturizer that seems like the kind of product you could use on a baby. I can only seem to find it on Amazon now. It's got a good dose of aloe in it, so it's really good for soothing irritated skin.


I could do a whole blog post about Ro's Argan Oil Body Conditioner from LUSH, and maybe one day I will. But for now, what I'll say is this stuff is a game changer in the body lotion world. You apply it while you're in the shower and true to its name, it feels like applying really luxurious hair conditioner but all over your body.

Here's how LUSH describes it:

Slathering on this juicy, fruity rose-scented body conditioner has become a beauty ritual we can't do without. Packed with cocoa, shea and cupuacu butters along with brazil nut, almond and argan oils, this luxurious conditioner deeply moisturizes skin without a greasy feel. After washing up, massage it all over your body, then rinse and pat dry for supremely soft, vanilla and rose-scented skin.

How to use: Smooth all over your wet skin after washing, then rinse clean.

You rinse it off, but it still feels like you have lotion on once you get out of the shower. I really prefer this to applying lotion OUT of the shower, but usually, I just want to get wrapped up in a warm towel as soon as possible. And can I just say.... the smell of this stuff....increddddible! 

Another special product that I love so much I took to the hospital with me is the Josie Maran Argan Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy Oil. You can use this as a moisturizer, lip balm, highlighter, on the ends of your hair, etc., etc., etc.. It's my favorite thing to use on spots that tend to get dry like knees, elbows, and hands.

I've had eczema on my hands since I was little, and for a lot of my life, I was using prescription steroid cream to manage it. The problem with steroid creams is they thin the skin out. On a whim, I tried the Aveeno Eczema Care Moisturizing Cream. I hadn't had much luck with over the counter products for eczema until I tried this one! It helps my hands so much when my eczema flares up in the winter and it's a safe and inexpensive option.

Whew - this was a long one! If you're still there, thanks for hanging in!

xo - C