Even if you love the crisp, brisk days of winter, you probably don't love what they do to your complexion. "Skin gets dry because the wind and cold weather irritate it, and the lack of humidity in the air causes it to lose moisture rapidly," says Elizabeth McBurney, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University. "This causes flakes and scaly patches, which in turn give you a sallow, dull appearance."
With several weeks of winter weather left, you need to take action now to breathe life into your looks. Here's what the experts suggest.
Fight back with steam. Soften dry patches by steaming your face over a bowl of boiling water (cover your head with a towel) for several minutes. Follow up with an exfoliating mask or scrub, then slick on a rich moisturizer such as Clinique's Moisture Surge Extra.
Take tougher measures. For stubborn, flaky areas on your face, Dr. McBurney suggests using a 1% hydrocortizone cream (available over the counter) followed by a moisturizer. When dry flakes begin to disappear, use a lotion with glycolic acid, such as Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Face Lotion.
Choose double-duty products. Avoid caking with products that provide both color and moisture. Try cream blushes, and check out tinted moisturizers.
Warm up your face with color. Peachy or rosy blushes can give you that "I just ran 3 miles" look. For a richer lip color, use a tinted lip stain, such as Benefit's Benetint, rather than a lipstick. Top it off with a balm to lock in moisture.
Pay close attention to your eyes. Give eyes a wake-up call by placing a tiny bit of satin white or ivory eye shadow under your brow bone and another very small dab just above your lash line in the middle of your lid. "This will catch the light and give the illusion of brightness," says Brigitte Reiss-Andersen, a New York–based makeup artist. Also, camouflage dark circles with products such as Christian Dior's Smoothing Anti-Fatigue Concealer.