Winter is coming Jon Snow and, as usual, my skin is freaking out. As someone who adores the sultry months and the way my skin looks when it's sun-kissed and dewy, I always struggle to adjust to dry, chilly air. Every time I step outside, I can feel my face being sapped of moisture and I’m starting to get those weird flaky bits around my nose, a tell tale sign of barrier impairment. Not cute.

But as the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Or in this case, when winter hands you dry, irritated skin, switch up your skincare routine. And trust me, I’ve tried it all. So here are my tips for fixing a freaked-out barrier and keeping your skin protected against the elements.


First things first, let’s talk about cleansing. I used to be a big fan of those gel or mousse cleansers that made my skin feel squeaky clean. But after a few too many winters of flaky, irritated skin, I’ve learned that gentle cream or oil is the way to go. I’m currently loving the QV Ceramides Cleanser. It’s cost effective super gentle and doesn’t strip my skin of its natural oils. Plus, it’s formulated with ceramides to help strengthen my skin’s natural barrier. It’s a win-win.

On the days that I’m wearing more makeup I can’t go past a cleansing oil. Current favourite? Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Cleansing Oil. This luxurious oil transforms into a milky emulsion, melting away even the toughest makeup while leaving skin feeling nourished and hydrated. The scent of lavender oil adds a relaxing touch to my night time skincare routine that has become quite addictive.

And, while muslin cloths seem to be all the rage right now (often paired with cleansing oils and creams), when your skin is sensitised they can be a little rough. Enter Sante Enjo’s eco-friendly makeup remover pads that are a must-have for anyone looking to be kinder to their skin and the environment. Made of ultra-soft microfiber, these pads gently remove makeup with just water, without the need for harsh cleansers or abrasive muslin cloths. Unlike traditional cloths, Sante Enjo’s pads are gentle on skin and won’t cause irritation, making them perfect for use with cleansing oil. With the added bonus of being reusable and long-lasting, they are a smart and sustainable choice for any beauty routine.

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When the weather begins to turn you may notice some of your more active serums are feeling a little bitey. It doesn’t mean you have to ditch the active ingredients completely. Just revise your routine to introduce buffered formulas (where the vitamin A or C is minimised through encapsulation), or consider Bakuchiol which is a gentler alternative to Vitamin A. 

If you’re suffering from dehydration, the first serum you should double down on is hyaluronic acid. Alpha-H Hyaluronic 8 Serum is a super hydrating serum that eight different types of hyaluronic acid that work together to hydrate and nourish. The lightweight texture makes it perfect for layering under other skincare products.

I’ve also recently been enjoying Kora Organics’ Noni Night AHA Resurfacing Serum with Bakuchiol: AKA “beauty sleep in a bottle.” This powerful serum is packed with natural AHAs, BHA, and bakuchiol, that work together to resurface and refine your skin while you catch some zzz’s. 

And finally, Aesop’s Lucent Facial Concentrate is like “wake-up juice” for your face! This serum is like a bolt of lightning for your skin, packing a powerful punch of vitamin C and niacinamide that’ll have you looking like a morning person in no time. It’s the perfect pick-me-up for anyone who needs a little extra glow in their life (and let’s be real, who doesn’t?).

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Let’s talk about moisturizers. I’ve tried my fair share of creams and lotions, but one of my holy grail winter moisturizer is Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. It’s thick and creamy without being greasy, and it really helps lock in moisture all day long. Plus, it’s fragrance-free, so it’s gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin. I like to layer it on after my serums before bed.

Other winter frontrunners? I was really impressed with Chanel’s new Pro Lift Creme contains Melipona enzymatic and Hyaluronic Acid to  target radiance and facial volume in the “youth triangle”: the area between the top of the cheekbones and the tip of the chin, which becomes inverted with age. It’s even better when used in a three step protocol with the Le Lift Pro Concentré Contour and the Le Lift Sculpting Massage Tool – which is like a very chic souped up gua sha.

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream contains nine signal peptides to plump skin and give crazy amounts of bounce and glow. There’s also a spiffy Soybean Folic acid Ferment Extract which is a B Vitamin that helps to maintain that all important  elasticity in skin.

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Of course, we can’t forget about sunscreen, even in the winter. For day time, I switch between a hardworking SPF if I’m going to be outside for more than ten minutes and a lighter tinted moisturiser with sunscreens.

The Mesoestetic Mesoprotech Melan 130 pigment control sunscreen is a game-changer and was recommended to me by a cosmetic physician. Not only does it protect your skin from harmful UV rays, but it also helps control hyperpigmentation. It’s a little pricey, but it’s worth it for the added benefits.

If I’m mostly desk bound then I’m happy to stick with a luminising tinted moisturiser. Current favourites? The new Rationale Beautiful Skin Superfluid  has launched and I’m obsessed. It’s lightweight but still super hydrating, and it gives skin the most beautiful glow. Use it under makeup as a primer for extra hydration. Also very impressed by The Secret Skincare Solar Serum. It’s lightweight and glowy and gives skin the perfect finish while protecting it. 

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Now, let’s talk about some treatments that have helped me combat dull winter skin. On the high tech end of the spectrum, I recently tried the Picosure Laser from Cynosure for some hyperpigmentation on my cheeks, and I was blown away by the results. It was quick and virtually painless, and my skin looked brighter and more even-toned within a week, with the benefits just getting better with time. A more uniform skin tone is one of the best ways to rejuvenate the skin and lasers do this better than most. My skin has never looked better and I get asked constantly what I’ve done. Of course, laser treatments aren’t for everyone, so be sure to do your research and consult with a professional before trying anything new.

Another treatment I’ve been loving lately is a deep facial massage. When it comes to glow and sculpting you can’t beat it. I really enjoyed the FaceGym Signature Hands Treatment at the Mecca Flagship in Sydney City, which is a full workout for your skin, including a deep tissue facial massage, some lymphatic drainage and the famous Buccal facial where your therapist massages your jaw and face from inside your mouth (they wear gloves, don’t worry). Yes, it’s weird at first, but for jaw-clenchers or grinders (like me) there’s nothing better to ease those tight masseters muscles in the jaw. I love a bit of ouch with my massage because I feel like it’s doing something, but you can always ask them to dial back the pressure if you don’t. So yes, a little intense, but my skin looks plumper and more lifted afterwards and the glow is off the charts. 

Words by Sigourney Cantelo

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