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12 Beauty Hacks for the Polar Vortex

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When the weather outside is frightful, your skin is almost never delightful. Instead, it becomes rough, flaky, and a little dull — adjectives no one has ever used to describe Beyoncé. We talked to several celebrity makeup artists and dermatologists for their best advice on how to tweak your usual makeup and skin-care routine for winter climes, even extreme ones like a polar vortex.

Here’s why all of them suggested you load up on a face oil, some tips for the face oil–averse because it’s good to have choices, and how to keep your skin moisturized and protected when you’re outside.

1. Oil Up

Every single makeup artist I interviewed for this piece recommended an oil. Face oils soothe skin, keep moisture from escaping, and leave you with a soft, flattering glow. Meghan Markle’s makeup artist Daniel Martin explains, “In the winter you’re dealing with a loss of moisture, so you want to seal the moisture in.”

It’s as small distinction but important to note that face oils do not moisturize. Their benefit is that they’re occlusive and emollient. As celebrity dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank says, “The bad news is that face oil doesn’t penetrate the skin. But the good news is that it can give you a glow and add a protective layer from wind and outside forces. But it won’t hydrate the same way a cream or ointment would.”

2. Oil Up … at Night

If you’re not convinced you want to swap your moisturizer for a face oil, Linda Hay, another makeup artist, suggests trying it out at night. You can start slowly by mixing two to three drops into your favorite moisturizer.

3. Don’t Use Hot Water

Whether you’re washing your face, hands, or body, don’t use hot water. “Water is not hydrating to your skin. It can be the enemy if you have dry skin. It’s the natural oils that you want,” explains Dr. Frank, and water washes natural oils away.

Excessively hot water also dehydrates the skin. “If the water you use on your skin is too hot, it will dilate capillaries in order to cool itself, resulting in redness,” says Dr. Macrene-Alexiades. You want your water to be lukewarm, at best.

4. Moisturize Like You’re on a Clock

Because you are! Dr. Macrene-Alexiades says, “You cannot get your moisturizer on quick enough.” After washing your face or getting out of the shower, lightly pat your skin dry and start applying moisturizer immediately. You don’t want your face to be wet because that will dilute the product, but your skin can be slightly damp.

“Pores are most open after [skin’s] been washed. They’re like mouths that are open to be fed, and it’s best to do that on freshly washed skin,” Dr. Frank says.

5. Press, Don’t Rub

To make your skin look glowy rather than oily, makeup artist Benjamin Puckey likes to do the “push-press” method (you’ll know it if you use Vintner’s Daughter). Drop a little bit of oil into your hands and then press (don’t rub) your hands into your skin. “Gently press it into the skin for a beautiful glow,” he instructs. You’ll feel the oil on your skin, but you won’t look like someone just drizzled it all over your face like salad dressing.

6. Try This Moisturizer Hack

If you’re not into face oils, try this trick from Dr. Frank. To make your moisturizer work harder, add an emollient like Aquaphor as a base skin-care layer. Follow up with another cream moisturizer on top.

7. Skip the Primer

Celebrity makeup artist Sil Bruinsma says that oil even makes a great base for makeup. “I actually use oils year-round because the more sophisticated ones double as a beautiful primer before applying foundation.” I’ve noticed that it’s true, face oils do make your foundation look more velvety, extra glowy, and even.

8. Boost Your Foundation With, Yes, More Oil

Makeup artist Charlotte Hayward mixes an oil into her foundation before applying it with a brush. “Because of the oil, it sinks into the skin rather than just sitting on top like my other liquid foundations do. It also keeps the skin nourished.”

9. Stay Away From Powder

Textures matter in winter. When your skin is dry, it’s more patchy, which means makeup can look more uneven. If it’s dry, even tiny particles like powder can settle into the pores. Avoid over-powdering, and if you must remove shine, try blotting paper.

10. Avoid Anything Matte

Hay also suggests choosing products and makeup with “more life and luminosity.” Look for products that are creamy, glossy, or luminous to counteract the dullness of winter skin. A creamy highlighter is your friend, and Puckey suggests that a cream blush onto the apples of the cheek is a great winter pick-me-up.

11. Exfoliate Regularly

How do you apply foundation to a flaky face? Trick question, you can’t. If you have flaky skin, you need to exfoliate. Hay explains, “Your skin is your foundation! So you must first remove the dead skin.” If you apply makeup to dry, flaky skin, it will only give an uneven, unsmooth finish.

In a pinch, Hay says you can make your own exfoliator. She recommends mixing organic brown sugar with coconut or olive oil (a favorite of Shania Twain’s, too). The preferred way is to use a chemical exfoliator, which is gentler on the skin but just as effective.

12. Mist and Repeat

Office air is dry. If you find your skin is looking cracked midday and you don’t want to disturb your makeup, give it a mist. Not just for the airplane or fancy people, mist is an easy way to add some hydration to your face but not look soaking wet. Don’t rub the mist in after you spray — just let it settle and gently pat your face using a makeup sponge.

The Best Products for Great Winter Makeup

Aquaphor Lip Repair
$17 at Amazon

Celebrity makeup artist Yuki Hayashi slathers a lip balm all over his face at night. “I use Aquaphor (Lip Repair) for all over my face as night cream. Oilier skin types can try just using it under the eyes instead of eye cream, but the cost performance of this is great!”

Air Repair Facial Mist
$9 at Amazon

Martin says, “A spritz of Air Repair’s Facial Mist (loaded with aloe vera gel) and Dior’s Hydra Life Sorbet Essence gives my clients that plump, juicy, dewy skin everyone wants.”

Honest Beauty Magic Balm
$18 at Dermstore

When you don’t have time to do a full regimen, use a skin-care product with a glossier texture as a highlighter. It’ll moisturize your skin while leaving behind the shine of highlighter without the shimmer. Martin says he learned this tip from his client, Jessica Alba. He applies a skin balm like Elizabeth Arden’s 8 Hour Cream or Honest Beauty’s Magic Balm as a highlighter to achieve that glowy look on the highest parts of the face. Dot it above the cheeks, brow bone, bridge of nose and cupids bow above the lips.

M.A.C Blot Film
$16 at Nordstrom

Hayward says, “‘M.A.C blot papers rather than powder would help keep everything looking fresh and not dry too.”

Bruinsma has a few favorite oils: “My favorites are Linda Rodin’s Olio Lusso and the MUN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum. If you feel like splurging, Rodin also has the ultimate lip balm with shea butter and jasmine and neroli oils to seal and protect your lips during the winter months.”

Rodin Olio Lusso Lavender Absolute Face Oil
$89 at Nordstrom
MUN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum
$95 at Jet
Weleda Skin Food
$10 at Amazon

Bruinsma also says, “Always carry a tube of Weleda Skin Food around. It’s affordable and a perfect on-the-go moisturizer for hands, elbows etc. I know models who slap it on their face before boarding a ten-hour flight.”

Stila Convertible Color Dual Lip and Cheek Cream
$25 at Amazon

This is one of the best cream blushes on the market, and it blends easily into the skin for a rosy sheen. It comes in eight colors, and a little bit makes you look slightly flushed and more awake. It’s a favorite of Puckey’s and a classic, with a 4.5 star rating and over 1,000 Sephora reviews.

This article was originally published December 14, 2017. It has been updated throughout. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

12 Beauty Hacks for the Polar Vortex