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Although this winter is almost over, some of you may still be experiencing the ill-effects of cold weather on your complexion. The chilly winds, erratic temperature changes, artificial heat, and — let’s face it — seasonal-depression-inspired drinking binges aren’t doing most people’s skin any favors. This season even the most naturally gorgeous among us would tend to look more at home terrorizing the Island of Misfit Toys than in one of the pedestrian-yet-annoyingly-perfect spreads in Lucky fucking Magazine.

Common winter skin woes include: red, irritated, chapped skin; unexplainable abundance of acne and oil; dullness, dark circles, and uneven skin tone, and tight, dry flaky skin. In short, winter ain’t pretty. You know it’s bad out when even white girls be gettin’ ashy. Here are my tips and tricks to nurse your skin through this difficult time:

 

The Basics: (aka: What Everyone Should Be Doing All Year Round Anyway)

Wash your face only once a day. Sounds gross, but you really only need to wash in the evening. Rinse in the morning with warm, not hot, water to avoid stripping your skin’s natural moisture. Use a gentle facial cleanser. Soap and water ain’t gonna cut it, either. I recommend the uninitiated to start with Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser ($6.00 at drugstores) and play around until you find something you like better. Tony, Toni, Tone. Use an alcohol-free toner once a day to even out your skin tone and keep your skin look fresh. I Like Nivea Visage Alcohol-Free Moisturizing Toner ($5.99 at drugstores). Step up your moisturizer. Are you still using that Queen Helene crap you got out of the bargain bin at Rite Aid? Are you no longer in high school? If you answered “Yes” to either of these questions then it’s time to get some big-girl moisturizer. If you’re not sure where to start, Shiseido the Skincare day lotion with SPF 15 ($35 at Sephora.com) is a lovely product. It’s perfect for all skin types, it’s lightweight, and, though it seems pricey, shit will last months and months and will still do a great service for your skin into the summer months. Get some sleep. Good skin is as much about lifestyle as it is about genetics and products. Drinking all night may be a fun way to get through a boring winter, but nobody wants to end up looking like Natasha Lyonne. I’m just sayin’! If sleep is not a possibility and you need to fake it, get some eye cream. Philosophy Dark Shadows ($30.00 at Sephora.com) is an ace at shrinking under-eye luggage and diminishing darkness. Look for eye creams with vitamin complexes. Vitamin C is known to lessen the look of tired eyes. Night cream is your friend. Look into using a good night cream if you’re not into the idea of aging before your time. I like Shiseido The Skincare Moisture Recharge Night Cream($40 at Shiseido.com or Shiseido counters at fine department stores) this product is for young skin to stave off signs of aging, mature skin should look elsewhere. Exfoliate once a week. However, banish the words “St. Ives,” “Apricot” and “Scrub” from your beauty lexicon. That shit is the devil, ask any dermatologist/aesthetician. It contains jagged fruit-pit bits and plastic-coated glass particles. Not suitable for any human’s face, I mean it. Look for a gentle exfoliant with smooth particles, like Clinique 7-day Scrub Cream ($18 at Clinique).  

In addition to basic skincare reform, you may have some more severe winter-skin symptoms:

Dryness: If your skin is feeling parched, tight and ashy, you may need a serious intervention. Avoid scrubbing more than once a week and don’t use toner anywhere but your t-zone. Don’t take this as an invitation to quit scrubbing and toning altogether — you need to remove the dead skin in order to improve the appearance of dry skin and also to avoid clogging pores and adding acne to the laundry list of problems in your life. In addition, a weekly moisture treatment may be in the cards. Consider Dior’s HydrAction Deep Hydration Intensive Mask ($30 at Sephora.com) to be your new ally. This mask is the result of some of the best technology the cosmetics industry has to offer. You’ll notice a remarkable difference immediately. Because I’m a total sucker for all things floral, I should also name-drop Decleor’s Hydra Floral Intense Gentle Hydrating Mask ($38 at Sephora.com) and Korres Natural Products Wild Rose Moisturizer SPF 6 ($29.50 at Sephora.com). These sweetly-scented botanical cures help me to feel like a girl again beneath my baggy, de-feminizing winter gear. 

Redness and Irritation: Wind, indoor heat, wool allergies, and cold-induced Kleenex abuse may leave you with red, chappy skin. The much-touted Aveeno Ultra-Calming Products don’t quell redness worth a damn. You may have better luck taking it easy on your skin (no scrubbing affected areas until redness subsides) and trying Juice Beauty Redness Reducing Serum ($34 at Sephora.com) or swabbing the sides of your chappy nostrils with Boudreaux’s Butt Paste ($6 at drugstores) or some other diaper-rash ointment. Trust me, it works.

General Dullness/Uneven Tone: If this is the worst of your problems, you’ve got it pretty good. So why not bring out your skin’s hidden luminosity with the best of the best? Everyone loves a splurge from time to time! Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel for Sensitive Skin ($39 at Sephora.com) is a great once-weekly enzyme peel for all skin types, anything harsher should be reserved for those who need a dermatologist’s help anyway. When it comes to skin-smoothing, I live for The Shiseido complexion brush ($23 at Sephora.com) this soft-bristle brush smoothes, tones, and brightens skin when used with your regular cleanser. Try it once and you’ll be hooked, trust!

Arctic Acne: Blemishes don’t go away just because it’s not hot out, I’m afraid. I recommend using a gentle spot-treatment on zits during the cold months. Do not overclean your face when you’re breaking out, because that will just make zits worse. Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula makes a 5% Benzoyl Peroxide Gel with Tea Tree Oil ($24 at Sephora.com) that fights pimples with two sure-fire acne cures. You will swear by it. It can’t hurt to try an oxygen facial to jumpstart clear skin. Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask ($52 at Sephora.com) helps to correct oxygen levels in the skin and promotes circulation. A must-try.

Lastly, don’t forget about your Hair: Your tresses also take a beating during winter. So put down the blowdryer, hide your heat styling tools from yourself, and try out these healing products: The award for most versatile product goes to: Onjon Restorative Hair Treatment ($21 at Sephora.com). It can be used as a deep conditioning hair mask, a leave-in conditioner, a shine-enhancing styling aid, or a personal lubricant. I was kidding about that last one… I also like the Neutrogena Triple Moisture Line ($6-8 at drugstores) because it’s cheap, so I don’t feel the need to conserve. I can literally slather it on without feeling bad about it and it does work wonders. But the real secret winter hair steez is good, old-fashioned olive oil ($8-$20, grocery stores). I mix it up with some honey and conditioner, slather it on my hair, and then throw on a knit hat & go running for an hour or so. The knit hat will trap your body heat, warming the crap on your head so the hair will better absorb the fatty goodness, AND you’ll get some good exercise so you’ll have that workout glow on your skin. Shampoo & condition it out and everybody wins!

I know you cats may have some beauty conundrums for me. Sent them Attn: BDJ to Buttercuppunch@gmail.com, or leave them in the comments!

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