Here’s Why Your Acne Is Even Worse in the Winter

Ah, winter—you love the festive decorations and cozying up inside with a mug of hot cocoa. What you don’t love quite as much? The dry skin that plagues you once temps plunge. Well, if you’re breaking out at this time of the year, dry skin could actually be to blame.

Say what?! Didn’t you leave the pimples (along with the greasiness) back in the dog days of summer? Nope. It turns out that acne can actually worsen in the winter, says Ellen Marmur, M.D., a Dove dermatologist with a private practice in New York City. “It’s common on all areas of the body and can occur during seasonal changes, especially in winter,” says Marmur about acne caused by dry skin.

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The cold air from outside has significantly less moisture than the warm or hot air associated with the other three seasons of the year, which is what leads to weather-related dryness in the first place. And harsh, chilly winds strip your skin of its natural surface lipids, which act as barriers to hold in moisture and keep dirt and other environmental toxins out. With that protection gone, it’s a whole lot easier for bacteria to get in—and that means you can say hello to zits.

So how do you combat the havoc the winter weather wreaks on your beautiful skin? “The number one way to avoid dry skin is by upping your moisturization protection,” says Marmur. If your daily routine isn’t cutting it, consider switching things up. “Gentle cleansers and heavy moisturizers are the way to go,” she says. “Other soaps or harsh cleansers can worsen dry skin, as they often remove the skin’s essential oils.” We’re fans of Garnier Clean + Smoothing Cream Cleanser Cleanser for Dry Skin ($7, and Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Revitalising Gel-Lotion ($47,

For an even greater moisture boost, try using a hydrating sheet mask like Dr. Jart+ Water Replenishment Cotton Sheet Mask ($8, a few times a week.

Just keep this in mind: Marmur advises those with sensitive skin or acne to be wary of ingredients that could irritate the skin, like sulfates, retinol, and heavy fragrances.

And while there’s nothing more satisfying and stress-reducing than bathing in a boiling hot shower after commuting home in icy conditions, try your best to limit these to five minutes or less. Yes, it feels amazing, but super-hot temperatures strip your skin of its natural oils, fats, and proteins, leading to inflammation, itching, and even peeling. Since the harsh winter weather is already depleting your skin, aim for lukewarm temps in the shower instead.

When it comes to using products in the bath, Marmur suggests Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash ($8, because it contains glycinate and stearic acid, compounds that replenish your skin’s lipids and prevent symptoms of dry skin like itching or rashes.

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