Glam - December 12, 2020

MAED’s Guide to Winter Skin: Face Cleanser

The colder months of the year bring along holiday cheer, but they also bring along dreaded winter skin. We all know the importance of keeping a good skincare routine, but now that winter is headed our way we have to adjust that routine if we want to maintain skin that is healthy and vibrant. Welcome to Part 1 of MAED’s Guide to Winter Skin, for the next few weeks we’ll be breaking down everything you need to tackle problematic winter skin. Keeping your skin soft and glowy can become challenging as the temperature and humidity levels drop. The combination of wind, cold air and dry indoor heating suck much needed moisture right out, leaving most of us with dull, lifeless skin. Even worse, because of the weather change, some of us will face more issues with acne, experience itchy and inflamed skin or battle dry, flaky patches. According to one of MAED’s favorite dermal clinicians, James Vivian of James Vivian Dermal Therapies “skin disruptions such as breakouts and skin irritations such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis flare up during this time of the year.” He adds, “the natural exfoliation process slows down during the winter time, and that can lead to skin breakouts and congestion.” A few simple product swaps can make a huge difference. So how should you change up your face ritual? The first place you will want to start is with your face cleanser.

Switching up your face cleanser.


Switching up your skincare regime starts with your cleanser. Although it’s not one-size-fits-all when it comes to cleansing, you do need to respond accordingly to the changes you see taking place with your skin. We often assume we can use the same face wash all year long, but if your regular cleanser is all of a sudden leaving your skin with that tight squeaky clean kind of feeling, then you’ll want to adjust your face wash to meet your winter skin needs. In this situation, using a gentle hydrating cleanser would help to avoid further stripping the skin of its moisture.  

If you find that your skin is congested Vivian suggests that using a cleanser with some lactic acid, to help promote the natural exfoliation process and improve cell turnover so that congestion doesn’t continue to happen. It will increase hydration in the skin. “If you are on the other side of the coin where you see sensitivity and inflammation in the skin because of the change in the weather then you need a cleanser that is not stripping at all. Something really gentle like an oil-based cleanser or cream-based cleanser,” he adds.

The Cleanser Breakdown


Foaming Cleansers. Foaming cleansers emulsify the oils in the skin, giving your skin a deep clean. They are typically lightweight and thin in consistency. They usually are most suitable for oily or acne prone skin. “That’s for skin that is producing enough oil to handle a mild stripping action,” says Vivian. While there are foaming cleansers that contain oils, anyone with dry skin should avoid foaming cleansers, especially in the winter since they are formulated to remove excess oils.

Gel cleansers. These tend to work well for oily to combination skin. They provide a slightly gentler cleanse than foaming cleansers, but they are equally successful at killing the bacteria that causes acne.

Oil-based cleansers. These cleansers work well for dry, sensitive and irritated skin. Oil cleansers are usually massaged into dry skin with dry hands. They remove dirt and can effectively lift makeup without having to pull on or strip your skin.

“Oil-based cleansers work on the premise that oils remove oils,” says Vivian. Beware however because those oils can linger on the skin and cause clogged pores and breakouts. In this case, Vivian advocates double cleansing; a concept started in Asia during the 14th century. The first cleanse should remove your makeup and then the second cleanse washes the face. You’ll want to opt for a water-based second cleanser.

Cream-based/milk cleansers. These type of cleansers do not lather whatsoever. Cream-based and milk cleansers are formulated to add moisture to the skin. They work to cleanse the skin while also soothing and hydrating it. They leave an extra thin layer of hydration behind making them suitable for those suffering from dry or dehydrated skin.

To sum it all up.


Vivian says, “… we all reduce the amount of oil we produce in the colder weather” and while oilier skin is not as noticeable during wintertime a good amount of oil is still being produced. So if you find that your skin is visibly oily during winter, you’ll want to take a look at what type of products you’re using, starting with your cleanser, if you’re using a milk cleanser than you may want to switch it up for foaming or gel cleanser. On the other hand, if you’re using a gel cleanser and find your face stiff and tight after each wash, then you’ll want to explore cream-based, milk cleansers or maybe even oil-based cleansers. Paying attention and listening to your skin is the key to keeping it looking it’s best. 


James Vivian is a well-known and highly-respected dermal therapist based in Australia. The driving force behind James Vivian Dermal Therapies, Vivian lives and breathes beautiful skin and has grown his business from a single operator in-home clinic to an expert team of skincare professionals with permanent bases across two states.

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Photography - Lauren Alexandra
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