Winter. It’s not your skin’s friend. In fact, it’s pretty much public enemy number one. Why? Because not only does cold weather leave you feeling cold (shivering, brrr-ing and just generally uncomfortable), it can also wreak havoc on your face.

“Skin is your body’s protective layer; it’s meant to keep out things like pollution, allergens and irritants, and keep things like water in,” says award-winning cosmetic dermatologist Dr Rachael Eckel. “Winter’s lower temperatures and humidity levels, combined with central heating, compromise the skin, changing the delicate balance of water, fat and protein that make up this barrier.”

Which all translates to dryness, redness, sensitivity, irritation and a host of other things you’d rather not deal with in addition to a crippling case of seasonal affective disorder. In short, skin is your armour, and harsh weather puts chinks in it. But there are steps you can take to bolster your defences, like following this regimen to thwart winter’s wrath.

Save Face

It’s the basics, but you should be washing your mug twice a day, 60 seconds at a time. Aside from being a sure-fire way to shock your body into wakefulness in the morning, the second round of washing before bed helps clear the skin of oil, pollutants and any traces of product that might otherwise transfer onto your pillow and then back onto your face each night.

“Men especially produce a lot of oil, or sebum, on account of their testosterone levels,” says Eckel. If left to well up, excess oil clogs pores, causing them to appear larger and leading to shininess and spots.

Of course, using the wrong product is just as bad as using no product at all, especially in winter when oily skin types get oilier and dry skin gets drier. So take time to find out your complexion type and buy accordingly.

Win The Cold War

Look for hydrating solutions rather than a bog-standard face wash. As temperatures drop, so does your skin’s ability to retain water, which means the face wash you used all summer won’t deliver the same results in winter. Look for alcohol- and soap-free formulations packed with antioxidants and skin-saving ingredients like vitamin E.

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Don’t Leave Yourself Exposed To The Elements

It might seem like a pain in the proverbial – and a load of old tosh – but a gentle scrub can help clear the skin of dead cells that clog up pores, cause blackheads and make your complexion appear dull and uneven.

“Exfoliation is especially important for men over the age of 25,” says Eckel. “As that’s when the rate at which the skin naturally sloughs off dead cells slows down.”

Win The Cold War

Use a light face scrub, rather than the grooming equivalent of sandpaper. Despite the untold benefits of the gritty stuff, it is possible to over-exfoliate, stripping the skin of essential oils and leaving it exposed to winter’s chill. In winter, be gentle and only use every two to three days.

For bonus points, sidestep abrasive microbeads (which are harmful to your face as well as the environment) and instead look for natural alternatives such as jojoba spheres or coconut shell.

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Tone Up For Winter

Not something you do with a dumbbell, but an important – and often overlooked – step in a solid winter-beating skincare routine.

“Toning might have a feminine connotation to it, but it’s basically just a marketing term,” says Eckel. “At its simplest, toning is using an astringent that acts as a kind of mini-microdermabrasion or mini-chemical peel, helping to de-grease the skin and remove old cells.”

And don’t be suckered in by snake oil. Look for a toner that includes salicylic acid, which helps to absorb excess oil as it surfaces, keeping your complexion clear.

Win The Cold War

If your skin is very oily, use a toner every day or every other. Otherwise, have a few days off between use and sub in a serum to supercharge your routine. These are made up of smaller molecules than moisturiser, allowing them to penetrate deeper into the skin and deliver extra hydration and antioxidant protection.

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Wear Protection

It might be something you’re used to bulk-buying in an airport, but sunscreen is not just for when you’re jetting off. Sure, your skin’s got more of a chance burning on a Caribbean beach than driving through sheets of rain at home, but UVA rays – the ones that age the skin – are global, and present whenever it’s light out.

“Sunscreen isn’t just for holidays, it’s for 365 days a year,” says Eckel. “That’s irrespective of cloud cover, rainstorms, hurricanes – once it’s daytime, you need sunscreen.”

Not only does exposure to UVA rays cause deep lines, wrinkles and dark spots, but exposure to the sun can further tamper with the skin’s barrier. Get cover.

Win The Cold War

Traditional poolside sunscreens can feel thick and sticky when piled on with all the other face-saving winter products. Look for one that feels light on your fingers or downgrade to an SPF moisturiser (aim for factor 30) that offers the same broad-spectrum defences without the weight.

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Stay Hydrated

Not all moisturisers are created equal, so it pays to know which ones will deliver on their promise once winter comes knocking.

“Make sure you’re not using a cosmetic moisturiser that’s all marketing and zero function,” says Eckel. “Look for ingredients that are scientifically proven to work rather than buying a product simply because the bottle looks nice.”

Win The Cold War

The most effective ingredients at maintaining the skin’s natural barrier function occur naturally in the body, so keep an eye out for ceramides, cholesterol and hyaluronic acid. And because freezing faces need extra hydration, swap out lightweight summer solutions for a thick winter cream that can deliver intensive results.

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Don’t Be A Douche

Do your bit for the environment (as well as your skin and hair) by showering and less often (within reason, of course).

“I’d recommend one shower per day during the winter because soaps strip the body of its natural oils, which can lead to drier skin,” says Dr David Colbert, founder of New York Dermatology Group.

Win The Cold War

While long hot showers may seem tempting during the frigid months, avoid anything too scalding, which can lead to dry patches and skin that’s even less hydrated than the guy who went big at the office Christmas party.

Supplement Your Skincare

Combating winter’s cruelty isn’t just about what you put on your body, but what you put in it too. According to Colbert, eating foods rich in healthy fats and protein – like white fish, Greek yoghurt, almonds – can all help maintain your skin’s natural barrier.

“A lot of the serotonin produced by the body comes from the gut, and a lot of new research shows the benefits of maintaining good gut health – like reducing the effects of rosacea and acne,” adds Eckel.

Win The Cold War

Supplements are your secret weapon. We’re not saying you should abandon a healthy diet altogether, but bitter experience tells us that eating well can fall by the wayside during the colder months when ordering pizza to your bed is easier than schlepping to the shops in a polar vortex.

Taking vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids daily helps to maintain the skin’s barrier, and reduce inflammation. Even if the Deliveroo driver knows you by name.

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