The French Girl Winter Skincare Routine

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As the cold weather of winter arrives, it’s important to adapt your skincare routine. I look to the French pharmacy to take care of my skin during the colder months. I’ve always relied on products from Avene, La Roche Posay, and many more pharmacy brands for my skincare. In the winter, I especially reach for my French favorites to moisturize and hydrate my dry, sensitive and acne-prone skin.

Although I’ll mostly be in Austria and the United States this season, I’ve spent a few winters in France. During my time there, I’ve discovered lots of helpful advice (including from my boyfriend’s mom who is a pharmacist) and products to care for my skin. Last February, while I was in the French Alps, I found some of my all-time skin favorites after experiencing the harsh mountain weather.

If you’re looking to upgrade your skincare routine for the upcoming winter season, I’m sharing my French-inspired winter skincare routine that will provide your skin with additional hydration and protect its barrier from the harsh winter conditions. And if you’re not living in France, you can still purchase the suggested products online.

Winter Morning Skincare Routine

Start your winter mornings with a skincare routine that hydrates and protects your skin. You can easily adapt the following routine according to your own skin needs. Choose products for each step that work best for your skin type and budget.

Gently cleanse

Over-cleansing your skin can leave it vulnerable to dryness and irritation, especially during the winter months. Skip your morning cleanse if possible, or opt for a gentle, non-foaming cleanser to start your routine. Wet your face with lukewarm water (avoid hot water, as it can further dry out your skin), then gently cleanse with a cream or oil-based cleanser to boost hydration.

You can also skip the cleanser and use a micellar water instead. Wet a cotton round with your favorite micellar water and gentle wipe your face to remove any product or oil from last night’s skincare routine.

Exfoliate (in moderation)

Exfoliate your skin in moderation to remove dead skin cells and promote a healthy complexion. There are several different methods for exfoliating, but it’s important to choose one that works for your skin type. Chemical exfoliants like salicylic aid, glycolic acid and lactic acid are generally safer than physical exfoliants and can often penetrate the skin for deeper exfoliation. If you have acne-prone skin, try a salicylic acid cleanser. If you deal with dry skin, an enzymatic exfoliator is a gentle, non-drying option.

Physical exfoliants such as a wash cloth, cleansing brushes and scrubs are often better options for oily skin, but they are not the most gentle method of exfoliating. Avoid over-exfoliating your skin (especially with physical exfoliants) during the winter months as it can also lead to unwanted dryness and irritation. Try to exfoliate no more than 3 times per week.

Apply a hydrating serum

If you want extra hydration without the heaviness of a thick cream, try layering a hydrating serum underneath your moisturizer. This is an especially helpful step if you have dry, sensitive skin. Keep an eye out for lightweight formulas that contain humectants like hyaluronic acid to maintain the moisture of your skin.

Moisturize

An essential step in your winter skincare routine is moisturizer. After applying your hydrating serum, layer on your go-to facial moisturizer. If you have dry skin, add a thicker cream to your skincare routine to boost your skin’s moisture. If you have oily or sensitive skin, you might skip the heavier cream and opt for a lightweight water-based gel cream. Choose the appropriate option for your skin type and apply it daily either over your recently applied serum or to wet skin.

Don’t forget SPF

Sunscreen might be the last skincare product on our minds during the winter. However, harmful UV rays can damage your skin no matter the season. Don’t forget to apply SPF as the last step of your skincare routine. Since SPF application can often be uneven, it’s a good idea to apply a few layers. Start with a moisturizer with SPF, then apply your favorite sunscreen. If you don’t love the look of a white cast, try a lighter-weight formula like the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Light Fluid Sunscreen. You can also layer on your SPF with a tinted moisturizer or compact during your makeup routine. No matter if you’re inside all day or hitting the ski slopes, applying the right amount of SPF should be part of your morning winter skincare routine.

Hydrate your lips

Avoid chapped lips by applying a hydrating lip balm. Use an ointment-based option to lock in moisture and heal dry, cracked lips. If you need some extra exfoliation, try a gentle lip scrub to remove excess flaky skin.

Winter Nighttime Skincare Routine

Pamper and restore your skin with a nighttime skincare routine designed for the winter. Similar to the morning routine, you can modify the following routine based on your unique skin needs. Consider your own skin type and budget when selecting the right products for you.

Remove your makeup

Take off your day (literally) with a gentle makeup remover. This step is essential for removing any dirt, oil and pollution accumulated during the past 12 hours. If you’ve stayed indoors for most of the day and aren’t wearing heavy makeup, try a micellar water — the ultimate French way to remove your makeup. Wet a cotton round with your favorite micellar water and gentle wipe your face.

If you’ve been outside or are wearing makeup, it’s better to opt for a cream or oil-based cleanser as the first step of your double cleanse. Take a small amount of your cleanser and gently apply it to dry skin to break down any makeup or pollution. Rinse your face before starting the next step. If your waterproof eye makeup just won’t budge, use a micellar water or another eye makeup remover to ensure that you’ve taken off all of your makeup.

Gently cleanse (again)

While cleansing your skin in the morning is optional, don’t skip washing in the evening. This is an important step for maintaining your skin’s moisture. Wet your face with lukewarm water (avoid hot water, as it can further dry out your skin), then gently cleanse with a cream or oil-based cleanser to boost hydration. Skip any abrasive, foaming cleansers as these can often dry out your skin. A gentle second cleanse will thoroughly clean your face and prepare your skin for the rest of the nighttime routine.

Apply a hydrating facial mask

To combat extra dry, dull skin from the harsher winter weather conditions, apply your favorite hydrating face mask once or twice a week. This step can help target dryness and dullness by offering incredible moisture in as little as five minutes. Take a relaxing bath or read a book while you let the mask do its magic. After rinsing off the mask, your skin will feel healthy and hydrated. If you struggle with redness and irritation during the winter months, try a calming, cooling mask that targets these specific skin concerns.

Moisturize

Similar to the morning routine, it’s essential to apply a moisturizer during your evening winter skincare ritual. After cleansing and using a hydrating face mask (optional), apply your favorite facial moisturizer. If you have dry skin, add a thicker cream to your skincare routine to boost your skin’s moisture (and check out the step below). If you have oily skin, you might skip the heavier cream and opt for a lightweight water-based gel cream. There are a wide variety of French moisturizers, so it’s easy to find one suited for your skin type.

During the evening, I prefer to apply a thicker moisturizer or a night cream specially formulated for nighttime. This is optional, but I find that these moisturizers leave my skin feeling extra hydrated and glowing the next morning. Whether you stick with a classic moisturizer or try a specialized formula, don’t skip this step.

Layer with a balm or ointment

If your cabinet of creams, moisturizers, and lotions aren’t enough to nourish dry, chapped skin, consider using a thicker balm or ointment. These products have a richer consistency that will help to quickly soothe and recover your skin. Balms and ointments can also work wonders on sensitive skin.

Many of these products can be used all-over your face or just in specific spots if you need targeted intense moisture. Plus they are generally great multi-tasking products that you can use on scrapes, cracked heels, chapped lips, and more. Instead of (or after) applying your go-to moisturizer or night cream, use a thicker balm or ointment on any dry areas of your face.

Winter Body Skincare Routine

Limit the body wash

Avoid using body wash everyday — this habit can really dry out your skin. Since our skin is usually well-protected by our clothing from the harsh winter environment, you don’t need to use a body wash each time you shower; simply rinsing off under the water or using a small amount of soap under your arms, etc. will keep you clean.

If you want to wash your body from time to time, try a shower oil. It’s much more hydrating than a typical body wash. Plus it’s often a better option for sensitive skin since it usually doesn’t contain harsh or irritating ingredients. Apply a few pumps onto wet skin with warm water and enjoy the luxurious lather that will leave your skin feeling super soft.

Moisturize

The theme of French-girl winter skincare is to moisturize, and you cannot forget about your body. This is another essential step for keeping your skin healthy and hydrated. After getting out of the shower, apply your favorite body lotion or oil. You can also get double the moisturizing benefits by layering both products. If you struggle with oily, acne-prone skin, you might consider skipping the oil and just moisturizing with a fragrance-free lotion.

Take care of your hands and feet

Pamper the parts of your body that often need some extra TLC: your hands and feet. Use a thick hand and foot cream daily to keep these areas moisturized. If your hands and feet are feeling very dry, consider applying a cream before bed and wear spa gloves and socks. You’ll wake up with frostbitten-free fingers and sumptuously soft feet. Don’t forget about your cuticles; use an oil to keep them moisturized.

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