You could call 2014 the year of the prolonged winter, and baby it’s still so cold outside that it’s hard not to stop slathering facial reams, oils, and serums to retain a sense of balance. To help you get through these last dregs of winter, we tested lotions, potions, masks, and gels to come up with our hot list for cold weather hydration—which will hopefully put the cold’s lingering dry spell to rest.
Simple Advisory Board member & celebrity dermatologist Dr. Debra Luftman says that a gel is best used by oily or normal skin types. “Creams are more moisturizing and therefore are best used by normal or dry skin types,” she says, adding that the climate is important to consider. In a warm environment, gels tend to adhere to oily skin better; In cold weather, creams bring moisture to dry skin with more efficiency.
Here are our top picks.
Made from the Camellia flower, which is known for its rare ability to bloom even in the winter, Chanel Hydra Beauty Creme Riche is one of the best versatile (day and night) creams you can buy for cold weather. The sumptuously textured cream is also formulated with blue ginger, which is known for its nutritive benefits. Camellia Oil makes its way into the cream as well. While the cream is intensely hydrating, the texture is light and non greasy, which means sensitive skins and those prone to breakouts will do well with this.
You’ll have to play mixologist with this one (there is an Activator packet and four vials of fluid that you have to mix together to get a salmon-colored cooling gel) but this hydrating mask instantly cools and plumps the skin. The mask lowers skin temperature to reduce stress from pollution, travel, and the elements. It’s worth the extra time and effort and the results are immediate; your skin will feel as though a fresh water lake washed over your face—in the best way possible. One mask is sold every five minutes somewhere in the world.
Tip: Use this mask at nighttime and use a thick moisturizing cream afterwards for best results.
The most hydrating rich cream from the Guerlain family is an ivory cream that promises—and delivers —penthouse standards of hydration with every rub. It features Guerlain’s Gold Orchid Technology, which creates a texture so rich (think, the consistency of finely whipped milk) that you will wonder if this is what Snow White rubbed on her skin to make it so soft. Formulated with gold orchid, which is quite rare and native to higher altitudes (mostly in Nepal, India and China), the cream immediately nourishes and hydrates even the most parched of skins. In all honesty, this rich investment could create initial sticker shock but what you receive is a hydrating cream that truly works for a substantial portion of the day (reapplications are unnecessary) and a rich, hefty gold-lidded jar that will last you for months.
Tip: Marcus Monson, Guerlain National Celebrity Artist advises that you exfoliate the skin before application, and to wash hands and face in warm water before application. He says “apply the cream in large circular motions and work out to the cheeks concentrating more time on the cheeks as they always seem to be the driest areas of the complexion.”
Both of these creations by Dr. Marko Lens are excellent thirst quenchers and the Transformer Instant Renewal Mask is even used in his “Red Carpet” facials. In just 15 minutes, this light mask hydrates and helps your skin turn back the clock to a more hydrated former self. The Transformer Mask uses a bio-energizing and oxygen complex, as well as high potency enzymes. It also contains lower molecular weight hyaluronic acid that provides needed moisture. The Z-22 is a bouquet of 22 essential oils specifically chosen by Dr. Lens; I use this at night when my skin needs an additional softer hydrating layer and wake up with my face feeling completely nourished rather than dry and taut.
Miracle Skin Transformer’s latest product is a blend of 30 moisturizers: the Miracle Balm heals, repairs and of course, hydrates. It contains exotic ingredients as well, including organic Tamanu Oil, Blue Mountain Sage Oil, and palm, monoi, and moringa butters. Believe it or not, the combination includes Manuka honey, which is native to New Zealand, and used to fight off infection and help with healing. I use this almost daily, and especially when my skin needs a quick quench fix.
Vitamins are important to bolster your immune system but your skin could use a little more TLC than that. Enter Neova, a hyperactive serum that protects your skin from the harmful damage caused by UV rays, preserving moisture, and repairing and protecting skin. The hydrating component comes from four key ingredients: DNA CoFactor, Merospheres, Lactomide, and Linoleic Acid, which work overtime by shielding skin from enemy aggressors. The result is not just increased hydration, it’s moisture preservation (and if you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe the TEWL score or Trans Epidermal Water Loss, the standard diagnostic method for measuring moisture, which went down by 12.6% in those who used Neova).
While it is marketed as a serum, it’s quite a heavy creamy consistency as far as serums go, so I use it as a daily moisturizer to find moisture’s sugar mommy.
A toner that can hydrate? Finally, yes. After years of putting toners that sap every ounce of moisture on my face, I am thankful for this product, which is gentle and an excellent addition to my skincare routine. Best of all, it can be used with any moisturizer, and is free from alcohol and also exfoliates skin. It is formulated with NARS exclusive Light Reflecting Complex™ and wild rose extract. The result is refreshed skin that feels it has woken from a sound night’s sleep, all with a splash.
Nighttime Skin Quencher from Kinara also provides non irritating exfoliation, which makes it a valuable multifunctional addition to your beauty cabinet. Several ingredients make this rich cream what it is: a deep, deep hydrator. It contains anti-oxidants, natural extracts including green tea, sugar cane, rice bran, soy protein, and Multifruit BSC, specifically included for nighttime benefits. The cream plumps and helps reduce wrinkles and truly comforts skin better than a facial. It also combats uneven pigmentation, making this skin quencher a win win win.
This light overnight mask is formulated with Korean medicinal herbs and also with walnut extract, which can create another layer of welcome moisture for your skin. It also contains hyaluronic acid to promote long-term hydration. Overnight masks are such a treat because you wake up feeling doubly rested: first from your natural sleep and second from the beauty products absorbed into your skin throughout the night. I also use this mask during flights, especially when I have to sleep and get back on pace through red eye itineraries etc. Plus, it’s gentle enough for all skin types.
This lightweight moisturizer absorbs beautifully into skin and is ideal for the warmer months and for those with acne prone skin. Typically gels don’t give me enough thirst quenching aspects but this one does the trick, particularly after cleansing and patting dry. The fast-absorbing gel also contains glycerin and a cocktail of vitamins (B5 and Vitamin C) that does skin more than good.