Winter can really take a toll on the body, and in no way is that more visible than through the skin. The cold, dry air zaps an otherwise-dewy complexion of moisture, leaving it looking like a sad piece of lifeless crepe paper. Guys are especially susceptible to the winter whiplash, primarily because it’s just not as common for us to be armed with a quality skincare regimen, and because we tend to partake in skin-irritating activities like shaving. But don’t stress, fellas, because winter is high time for hibernating and healing the skin.

We know winter skin can be a pain, so we’re covering some of the best winter skin hacks to ensure that you get through the colder months without ruining your skin. Read on for some insight into the most common winter skin issues and how to combat them with a super-hydrating regimen and more top-notch tips.

What Happens to Our Skin in the Winter?

As previously mentioned, winter has a special way of depriving our skin of moisture. The cold, windy weather and constant exposure to low-humidity indoor heating exacerbates dryness and irritates skin. To get scientific on ya, this happens because our skin cells literally shrink when it’s cold out, causing certain proteins within the skin to degrade. Specifically, the cold attacks filaggrin, a skin protein that helps maintain hydration and protects against the damages of the sun and environment.

For guys, the loss of filaggrin is just one part of the problem. On top of that, most of us put our skin in a worse position by regularly shaving and hitting the barber, which further irritates skin and causes it to become dry and flaky. If you’ve ever lived in a seasonal climate, you know that dry skin on the face is only half the battle. Winter also wreaks havoc on the elbows, knees, hands, bottoms of the feet and lips. Rough, cracked, painful patches are pretty much the norm when it’s below 40 degrees outside.

Winter Skin Hacks for Guys

Now that we’ve covered the problem, it’s time to tackle the solution. For most guys, whipping skin into shape really comes down to investing in some high-quality products, like a solid post-shave razor bump cream and a next-level moisturizer suitable for your skin type. These two things will undoubtedly go a long way, but there’s more to the story. Follow these skin hacks to pacify your cranky winter skin.

  • Purge the Bad Stuff From Your Routine — It’s not just the cold, dry air outside that’s to blame for your angry winter skin. It’s also the stuff in your shower and medicine cabinet which you thought would be helping. In truth, you need to purge your routine of any harsh, drying ingredients — at least for the time being. Look out for harsh, acidic ingredients that might be exacerbating dryness, including harsh alcohols and parabens.
  • Take a Cold(er) Shower — Cold showers are good for more than one thing. Did you know that hot water is actually bad for your skin, especially if it’s on the sensitive side? Indeed, a high-heat shower can irritate the outer layer of your skin, and that’s the worst possible thing that could happen in the middle of the winter when your complexion is already looking rough. Dial down the heat and skip the hot tub because they could be seriously messing you up.
  • Hot Tip: Use a Humidifier — One of the reasons why our skin is so frustratingly thirsty in the winter is that modern indoor heating tends to be super-dry, including the heat pumped into the car, office and house. But, luckily, there is a way to reintroduce some humidity into the air around you — by using a humidifier. You don’t have to go crazy installing one in every room in your house (although whole-house humidifiers are definitely a thing and, hey, why not). Installing one in the bedroom and turning it on while you sleep is often enough to rehydrate super-dry skin throughout the winter months.
  • Moisturize Like It’s Your Job — It’s so important that you keep the hydration heroes in the rotation every single day, especially when it’s cold out. Be sure you use a non-comedogenic face cream (that means it won’t clog the pores) formulated for your specific skin type. We recommend slathering on a layer of your fave gel moisturizer (yes, even for oily skin) at least once a day after you wash your face.
  • Don’t Forget to Exfoliate — Exfoliating the skin is a crucial step in your year-round skincare regimen because it helps regenerate fresh, new skin cells and helps to get rid of any dull, dry patches that might be harshing your mellow. With that said, you’ve gotta be super-strategic about how and when you exfoliate, especially in the winter, because too much can actually worsen your skin and cause prolonged irritation. Use an activated charcoal face scrub twice a week to keep your skin well-nourished as you slough away those dry, flaky patches of skin to reveal a fresh, even layer beneath.

  • Shave Like a Pro — Minimizing irritation when you shave is crucial year-round, especially when it’s chilly out and your skin is already freakout-prone. Make sure you keep some trusty razor bump cream in the arsenal and always shave using a sharp, new blade every time. Remember to use warm (not hot) water when you shave in order to relax skin and open up the pores without causing dryness or irritation. Follow up every shave sesh with an even layer of high-quality face cream and you’ll be golden!

Nobody likes dry, irritated skin, but if you follow these amazing winter skin tips, you can rest assured that you’ll skate through the chilly months with happy, healthy skin – no matter how unbearably cold it may be outside.