Winter is arguably the prettiest of all seasons - blanketed gardens, frost-tipped branches, piercingly blue skies - but it’s not quite so picturesque for skin, and you’ll need some solid winter skincare tips to help.
If you’re experiencing dry patches, flaky skin and a complexion as dull as dishwater, then layering rich creams, oils and masks will help keep moisture locked in. But dedicating the time to maintaining healthy, hydrated skin can be tricky when you’re busy juggling work, packed lunches, party invitations, and all the other 'mum balls' in the air. You may have a bathroom cabinet brimming with toners, boosters, facial oils and eye creams for dark circles but if you don’t even have a minute to grab lunch or go to the loo in peace, then you’re not likely to carve out the hours needed for a 10-step skincare routine.
“Keep it simple,” advises expert facialist, Charlotte Connoley. “Morning routines need to be quick to get the kids to school and yourself to work - a quick cleanse, a hydrating serum, a moisturiser and an SPF is enough.” Trust me, I know - I barely have time to wash my hair these days but I’ve learned to streamline my regime to include non-negotiable elements, like sunscreen for your face, and choose multi-faceted products, which offer additional skincare perks. Treat this list a pick 'n mix for your face, choosing the tips that work best for you and your skin. These top tricks and product picks sit in the middle of my Venn diagram of my life as a Beauty Editor and mum-of-two, and I’m confident these winter skincare tips will work for you too.
8 winter skincare tips for busy mums
1. Upgrade your cleanser
Cleansing is the bedrock of great skin, and arguably the most important step of any regime. Do it right, and your skin will be cleansed of impurities and better able to absorb all those lovely skincare ingredients in your serum and moisturiser. Your skin’s ability to retain moisture drops by 25 per cent in winter, and the less hydrated it is the more likely it is to appear dull and flaky. If you’re currently using micellar water or a foam cleanser, switch to a balm or cream during the colder months to put back in what winter takes out.
I do a double cleanse with a balm filled with nourishing oils. My makeup and sunscreen slip right off, but my skin is left plump and perky.
This cleanser is my skin's B.F.F, the O.G, the G.O.A.T...and any other complimentary acronym you can think of. It is as close to a spa treatment as you can get, with its silky, slippery texture and dreamy lavender and eucalyptus aroma. It blasts through makeup and leaves my face glowing.
I always come back to this creamy cleanser when my skin is feeling a little neglected. It comes with a muslin cloth, which provides gentle exfoliation - a great alternative to harsh exfoliants, which should generally be avoided during winter when the skin is most vulnerable.
"This is a great, hydrating cleanser that's not too stripping or harsh," says expert facialist, Charlotte Connoley. Enriched with shea and cocoa butters, plus nourishing vitamin B5, this cocooning balm is a tonic for tight, touchy skin.
2. Invest in a super serum
Dr Aiza Jamil, consultant dermatologist at sk:n Clinics, implores everyone to apply a serum containing antioxidants every day. ‘Antioxidants are the substances that help to protect the skin surface from oxidative damage caused by free radicals and environmental triggers like UV rays,” she explains. “Vitamin C, resveratrol, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid are a few examples. All have excellent anti-ageing properties, preventing fine lines and wrinkles, boosting collagen production and improving skin texture and elasticity.”
Everyone should add a vitamin C serum to their morning routine. Vitamin C in the morning, vitamin A in the evening - they're my skincare staples. I apply this serum every morning. Vitamin C prepares skin for the day, stimulating the natural moisturising factors, protecting collagen and brightening over time.
This is a great serum for busy mums with fast, impressive results. It's proven to increase hydration by 60% in just 30 minutes. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which binds water to help skin retain moisture. Niacinamide is added to brighten skin, as well as being crucial to a strong, healthy moisture barrier.
Boosters are highly concentrated skincare serums, and can be used on their own or mixed in with your favourite moisturiser to give an extra surge of hydration. This one is made with vegan collagen to leave skin looking plump, glowy and hydrated.
3. Incorporate retinoids
Another vitamin to add to your winter wishlist is Vitamin A (AKA retinoids). Retinoid is the umbrella term for anything derived from vitamin A, with retinol being the most famous over-the-counter ingredient. There are stronger, more potent derivatives like Tretinoin and Retinoic acid, but they are only available on prescription. The one major downside to retinoids is their potential to irritate. Doesn’t sound like a brilliant match for winter skin, right? Trust us when we say the benefits far outweigh the cons.
Retinoids are such brilliant anti-agers. You’re not going to get more bang for your buck than a quick smear of a retinol serum right before bed. Expect plumper skin and a more uniform tone with very little time and effort required. Whichever retinoid you choose, only apply in the evening, since vitamin A can make skin more reactive to the sun.
I always recommend Skin + Me, an online service where personalised treatment plans are devised by a team of dermatologists. For £29.99 a month, you’ll be sent medical-grade ingredients, like Tretinoin, in a daily doser - so you know you're getting exactly the right amount you need.
The clever thing about the Inkey List's serum is it is powered by Retinyl Acetate - a slow-release form of Retinol, so it’s less likely to cause dryness and sensitivity. Slower doesn't mean less effective - it will gently resurface skin to improve lines, acne and pigmentation.
This plant-powered retinoid serum is hot off the press and another great option for sensitive skin. The retinoid is gentle enough to use daily but has a powerful effect on three types of stubborn wrinkles - forehead lines, smile lines, and crinkles around the eyes.
4. Use a targeted eye cream
The eyes are often the first place to show signs of tiredness and ageing. "The skin around your eyes is only 0.05mm thick and the most delicate skin on the body. It has fewer sebaceous glands and collagen and elastin fibres compared to the rest of the face,” explains leading ophthalmologist, Dr. Maryam Zamani. “This makes it more prone to losing moisture and becoming drier."
This pot of gold is a one stop shop for eyes, treating everything from dark circles and puffiness to fine lines and wrinkles. Powered by collagen-boosting Tri-peptide, Hyaluronic Acid and Albizia Bark Extract, which strengthens capillaries, it's proven to boost moisturisation by up to 33%.
Caffeine peps up tired, puffy eyes, while skin is kept smooth and hydrated with a nourishing trio of squalane, vitamin E and those little barrier-boosting heroes - ceramides. Don't be fooled by the light, silky formula - it's deeply-hydrating.
As if craggy, crepey skin wasn't bad enough, winter will also make dark circles look darker, as it causes blood to stagnate. This is my 'you'll never know I was up three times in the night' hero. In 15 minutes, it magically tightens the under-eye and depuffs bags so I look human again.
5. Stock up on sheet masks
A 90-minute facial, once a week, should be available on prescription for new mums. The excuse to lie down, eyes closed, is reason enough to book in, but a facial also happens to be an effective way of bombarding skin with moisture, especially in winter. But for many of us, this sort of treatment can feel like an over-indulgence, too time-consuming and financially-unjustifiable.
As a Beauty Editor, I have been lucky enough to try many facials over the years, but since having my children, they’ve taken a backseat to DIY treatments that I can do at home. A sheet mask in the bath is my go-to when my skin looks particularly sad. They trap moisture in so it has nowhere to go but into your skin.
These sheet masks - and this very one in particular - are always in my bedside drawer. They're the juiciest, dewiest masks I've used. In fact, each sheet is impregnated with a whole bottle's worth of serum. And they cost less than the price of an Americano!
Enriched with caffeine and hydrolyzed collagen, these under-eye masks will pep up dry, tight, crinkly eyes. I keep mine in the fridge and throw a pair on when I'm prepping breakfast before everyone wakes up. The chill feels amazing on tired eyes and gives extra de-puffing power.