Winter Skin SOS

Winter skincare products for problems like dryness, redness, and itchiness featuring Tonymoly ceramics sheet mask, Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin fluid, Tata Harper Intense Moisture Mask, Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream, Bioderma Atoderm SOS Spray

Every year it seems to take less and less to trigger a full-on winter freakout on my face. A couple weeks ago Vancouver experienced its first bout of dry cold with temperatures hovering near freezing, and my skin went from normal to dry, red, itchy and stinging. The weather has since gone "normal Vancouver" and become mild and wet, but that doesn't mean I don't have a few skincare tricks up my sleeve if it changes again. If you live in a "dry cold" climate where the air outside is harsh and the indoor heating is turned way up, this post might be helpful!

Hyaluronic acid is often touted as a hydrating hero in skincare regimes, but did you know in dry cold too much hyaluronic acid can actually accelerate moisture loss? Think about how hyaluronic acid works: It's a humectant that draws moisture from the air and the deep-down layers of your skin, then holds the moisture in the uppermost layer of skin to create that plumped-up dewy appearance we're so used to getting from hyaluronic acid. But when there's zero moisture in the air and your skin's moisture barrier is compromised, that moisture from deep inside your skin just gets drawn up and out. The result (at least for me) was rougher texture, a web of fine dehydration lines across my cheeks and forehead, and increasing redness and irritation.

Tonymoly Master Lab Ceramide Moisture Care Sheet Mask and Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin

Cue ceramides, a fatty lipid found in healthy skin that helps maintain the moisture barrier and keep the water in your skin. For an immediate hit of ceramide relief during Vancouver's cold stretch, I used the TONYMOLY Master Lab Ceramide Moisture Care Sheet Mask ($4). This sheet mask was so soothing on first contact, and it was infused with a white, lotion-y ceramide essence that calmed and didn't sting. When I removed it 20 minutes later, there was a noticeable improvement in my face's hydration and redness levels.

On the nights I wasn't sheet-masking, I applied a couple drops of Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid ($49 for the full size) after serum and before moisturizer. I don't know what sort of Korean beauty witchcraft is in the formula but it's so soothing and doesn't sting at all, and I've seen firsthand the miracles it can work. A couple years ago, Hubs's ears became painfully red and chapped from exposure to cold, to the point where they were peeling and he was afraid of putting anything on it that'd hurt. I smoothed a couple drops of Ceramidin Liquid over each ear. The chapping improved overnight. Within 2 days of regular re-application, he was back to normal. Dr Jart+ makes a bunch of ceramidin-infused creams and moisturizers, but to me the liquid seems more versatile because it can be used alone or mixed with your favourite moisturizer. Plus, a little goes a long way so the full-size 150 ml bottle will last forever.

Bioderma Atoderm SOS Spray

Dry skin itchiness is real and it's annoying AF, which is why I was excited to see the new Bioderma Atoderm SOS Spray ($19.90 at London Drugs) at this year's #LDBeauty event. The spray goes on thin, white and milky and dries down to nothing; it starts working in 60 seconds and provides up to 6 hours of itch relief. Other specs: It's safe for atopic skin (eczema sufferers, take note) and can be used on children and infants; the formula is hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic; it's free of parabens and fragrance; and it comes in a travel size if you need a bug bite remedy while on vacation. So far I've used it on an insect bite and on my feet (the skin on my heels and soles tends to get dry and itchy). It works like a charm every time.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream

The last time I featured Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream ($125), I wrote: "If there's such a thing as a hero product in the Charlotte Tilbury line, this is it. Based on Charlotte's own top-secret 'magic cream' formula which she's been blending and using backstage for years, Magic Cream boasts SPF 15, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and a bevy of natural ingredients that treat and nourish skin. The texture is rich, luxuriant, cooling to the touch, and positively melts into skin. As soon I apply it, the effect is like a soft-focus Instagram filter on the skin; everything is glow-y and radiant even sans makeup. Magical indeed." I still stand by everything I said. On a recent visit to Charlotte Tilbury's Canadian PR team, I was gifted a new jar of this transcendent, transformative stuff and I've really been enjoying it. This second time around, I've noticed that although it absorbs relatively quickly, there's still a thin veil of product that stays on the surface of the skin and resists absorption, acting as a barrier against cold air; this effect lasts almost all day. It's definitely a splurge (particularly the giant 150 ml size made for gifting), but so worth it. Consider this a friendly reminder if you're looking for a new hero daytime moisturizer for the winter.

Tata Harper Moisturizing Mask

And last but certainly not least in this lineup of winter skin SOS products, we have the Tata Harper Moisturizing Mask ($154.05), an all-natural moisturizing powerhouse for dry, dull skin that boasts 15 sources of hydration, 9 sources to smooth and soften skin texture, and 8 sources to minimize the look of wrinkles. The result is an intensely hydrating overnight treatment that dispenses from the bottle as a pale pearlescent green lotion, and melts into skin with the texture of a balm. Although it's intended as an overnight mask and the instructions say to apply generously, I've been applying a thin layer of this over other nighttime moisturizers as a top-up, lock-in-all-the-moisture product. It works very well over face oils.

On another note, this will probably be my last post of the year. I entered December with grand plans to do all the things and post more content, but as the weeks passed a couple things became clearer. One, I'm just not in a very festive mood this year; what I need most right now is stillness, rest and reflection without putting any undue pressure on myself, so I'm letting go of the obligations and stressors I can in an effort to be gentle to myself. Two, a couple of the products that I've been testing and that I was hoping to feature need more time. I pride myself on taking the time to do things thoroughly and formulate a thoughtful opinion, especially when it comes to skincare. On the bright side, I guess that means you have a bumper crop of skincare reviews to look forward to in 2019.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy holiday season. Thank you for the support you've shown me in continuing to read and visit this little corner of the Internet. See you in the new year!


  1. That sheet mask sounds divine, and yay, LOVE that you're chatting about the Magic Cream - it must be fate / a sign that I need to try it right away!! Plus swoon, always such a huge Tata Harper fan!! xo (life + style blog)

    1. You're going to love the Magic Cream if you do!

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