Winter skin | the best essential oils to use & how to use them

By Alison Angold CIDESCO ITEC

So as the weather gets colder, and we start layering up to keep us warm, do we need to consider a change in skincare at this time of year? Will the products that we use for the rest of the year cut it as the temperature drops? In this article we are going to look at 5 easy steps to great winter skin, and why you should change your skincare for the winter season, and why you should include essential oils in your routine.

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5 essential oils for great winter skin

  1. Benzoin – cracked & chapped skin
  2. Carrot Seed – overheated, dry skins
  3. Frankincense – rejuvenating & smoothing
  4. Myrrh – chapped & mature skin
  5. Sandalwood – soothing for irritated, dry skins

5 easy steps to great winter skin

In addition to using essential oils take these 5 steps to care for your skin through the winter months.

  1. Boost – add hydration
  2. Brighten – rid of dull skin
  3. Smooth – rid of rough skin
  4. Nurture – nourish
  5. Protect – and repair

The best essential oils for Winter skin


This is a great oil to treat and soothe inflamed skin during the winter. Benzoin can relieve skin conditions such as eczema, and soothe and heal cracked and chapped skin. Ideal for skin that has been exposed to the elements for too long.

Carrot Seed

This is a very nourishing essential oil and is good at hydrating and rejuvenating dry, dull, winter skins. It is particularly good at treating overheated skin conditions, so ideal for our skin during winter when we are regularly changing from very cold, to very warm environmental conditions.


Frankincense is a very rejuvenating oil, that I always recommend for mature skins, so an ideal oil to use during the winter, when skin is drier an dull. It can be suitable for both dry and oily skins, as it has a balancing effect on the skin.


Myrrh is another good oil for mature skins, so can be very hydrating and nourishing for the skin during the colder months. It is also effective at relieving chapped skin, so good for prolonged exposure to the cold.


Sandalwood soothes and calms, dry, irritated or inflamed skin, as well as chapped skins. It is also suitable for sensitive skins and can calm the redness of broken capillaries and high colouring that may be experienced during the winter.

How to use essential oils for winter skin

To use essential oils for winter skin, you can simply add 1 or 2 drops of your chosen essential oil to your normal moisturiser.

What happens to our skin in winter?

Our skin is our largest organ, and its main function is to protect us. It defends against the invasion of bacteria, water and often pollutants. The skin is tough, but we need to look after it as well to protect it further and to prevent ourselves getting any adverse skin conditions in the colder months.

As the weather turns, our skin will most likely become dull looking and drier, which in turn makes us look older!

When the weather is cold, there is much less moisture in the air. This means that our skin cannot take in moisture, from the atmosphere, which it does during the warmer months. In addition to this, the moisture that is in our skin, gets ‘sucked out’ by the high temperatures of heating we blast in our homes and cars, in an effort to keep us warm!

So no moisture going in, and moisture being pulled out, all leads to dry and dehydrated skin. This makes our skin look dull, and much older! Dehydrated skin is a lack of water, while dry skin is a lack of oil. The skin may still maintain a level of oil, but the water content in the skin, will definitely be affected by the cold temperatures and central heating.

Harsh cold weather; wind, ice and snow, may also lead to irritation of the skins surface; redness, flakiness, irritation. Our skin is there to protect us, and does some of the defending itself, however at this time of year, we need to help it along a bit.

So what do we need to do?

Winter skin – Boost

To give your skin a winter boost;

  • Layer your products so that they have the maximum chance of them being absorbed
  • Use a hydrating serum underneath your moisturiser to give added hydration
  • Use a hydrating mask (my favourite are sheet masks), to really give the skin an immediate boost of moisture and a radiant glow
  • Use a cleansing balm or oil. Trust me, at the end of the day, when your skin feels tight and uncomfortable, a cleansing balm feels amazing!!
  • Apply your products onto damp skin to maximise their benefits.

The colder temperature leaves us unsure if our normal day cream is enough, as our skin can begin to feel dehydrated, tight, and looking dull. 

It’s not always necessary to change your moisturiser in the winter. It is a common misconception that the thicker the cream, the better it will moisturise your skin. This is not always true. Sometimes a thicker, richer cream is too much for the skin and doesn’t deliver the hydration your skin needs, instead it will sit on the skin’s surface and while this is beneficial as the surface needs hydration, it’s not doing much else in terms of absorbing and hydrating the deeper layers.

Adding a serum will give your normal moisturizer a big boost.  Serums are packed with micro ingredients to intensely hydrate, firm, and tone. The texture of them is light and non-greasy.  As a result, used under your day cream your skin will feel supple, smoother, hydrated, and fresher, without feeling heavy.  My main recommendation, at this time of year, would be to use a hyaluronic acid serum. Hyaluronic acid encourages water from the lower layers to come up to the surface of the skin, so will hydrate the skin more effectively.

Evolve Gentle Cleansing Melt – with Vanilla & Baobob oils

E’spa Nourishing Cleansing balm – with Geranium & Rose oils

Garnier Tissue Masks – my go-to masks, for an instant moisture boost and glow!

Winter skin – Brighten

To brighten your winter skin;

  • Increase your fluids – water. The more water you can drink (and warm water, is fine in the winter) the more your skin will keep its water content and hydration
  • Use a daily micro-exfoliant – or a facial scrub twice weekly – as this will eliminate any flakiness and brighten up a dull skin
  • Use a moisturiser that containing essential oils

In winter our skin usually will become more dehydrated. Dehydration shows itself on our skin as dullness, superficial lines, and ‘crepy’ skin which can all leave our skin feeling tight and uncomfortable. We might also experience very dry & flaky patches too.  

Dehydration is a lack of water in the skin, not oil. Any skin type – even oily – can have dehydrated skin, especially in the Winter, as water can be literally sucked out of the skin by central heating. Going from the cold outdoors to the very warm indoors, can have a very dehydrating effect on your skin! Drinking water is essential to replace these lost fluids and likewise hydrating products immediately make the skin more dewy and radiant.  To really illuminate the skin consider a cream with soft illuminators to give an instant glow and eliminate pastiness. 

Try to brighten, hydrate and illuminate!

Contains Orange & Sandalwood essential oils

Winter skin – Smooth

To smooth winter skin;

  • Use a facial scrub at least twice a week
  • Or consider using a daily micro-exfoliant. These are incredibly gentle, even on sensitive skin, and leave the skin feeling smooth consistently.
  • Consider a using a retinol. Over time this will smooth the skin and prevent lines and wrinkles.

Our cell turnover decreases with age, so our skin lacks glow as it has a barrier of dead skin cells on the surface.  In Winter our skin tends to lack glow anyway, so exfoliating is key in our skincare routine, to ensure radiance and assist the fight against skin ageing.  Exfoliating at least twice a week keeps the surface of the skin smooth, clear, and bright. In fact, as we age, exfoliating is one of the best things you can do for your skin!

If you need any more persuading, just remember; the most expensive creams, lotions and oils will have no effect, as they will just sit amongst the dead cells building up on the skin.  Ridding of these cells regularly will ensure that all further products used, will be much more effectively absorbed and you will get maximum benefits from them.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant is my favourite and most effective daily micro scrub. It is expensive but worth it! Neals Yard Remedies, Rehydrating Rose Facial Polish is an ideal scrub for weekly use.

Winter skin – Nurture

To nurture winter skin;

  • Use a facial oil daily – either in the evening, underneath your moisturiser, or a couple of drops in the day, before you apply make-up. This not only nourishes your skin, for the day, it adds a wonderful dewy, glow to your skin!
  • Use some facial massage techniques, to apply your oil – especially at night. This encourages the oil to penetrate the skin, and increases circulation to feed the skin cells, while you sleep.

Any skin can become slightly sensitive at this time of year. Even if it is just a temporary issue, we need to ensure we look after our skin properly. The outside elements can cause our skin to turn pink or red in colour as the circulation is stimulated, and the cold disrupts the delicate balance of the skin. Treating your skin well is essential. One of the best treats you can give your skin, is to use a facial oil. This may be something that you already use (and if so, well done you!), or a new product to add. The oil will not only hydrate your skin, but make it supple, and glow too!

Try E’spa Replenishing Treatment Oil. Blended with Neroli, Sandalwood and Patchouli oils to revitalise and replenish dull and dry skin.

Winter skin – Protect

To protect your winter skin;

  • Use an SPF
  • Use a barrier cream on top of all other products

So finally, after everything else we have implemented, the final stage is to protect (even though that everything above is essentially protecting!). Continue to use your SPF, every single day! So it may be far from sunny, but that SPF will give you some extra protection against the elements too. Using a barrier cream at this time of year, is also a really good idea. These are designed to sit on the surface of the skin, and not be absorbed, so creating a barrier, to keep the moisture sealed in.

Dermalogica Solar Booster SPF 50 is specifically designed for the face and blends very well over other skincare products. Similarly Dermalogica Barrier Repair sits well over your moisturiser and has the most soft, silky texture!

Other winter skin saviours

Don’t forget your hands this season! Anything that is happening to your face is also happening to your hands too! So give them some TLC. The easiest way to do this is; everything you apply on your face – use the remnants on the back on your hands – whatever is left on your fingers, just smooth over the skin on your hands – then your hands are getting the same treatment as your face!

Our lips also need looking after in the colder weather. Ensure you use a suitable lip blam and protector at all times. I like La Roche Posay Cicaplast Levres for great protection and moisture.

And finally;

  • Turn the heat down. Especially in your car! This is where your skin suffers the most. When you’ve been out in the freezing cold, you get in your car, and turn up the heat to full. The enclosed space plus the blasting heat, will literally soak up any remaining moisture your skin had!
  • Increase anti-oxidants in your diet. Antioxidants are found in abundance in berries and green leafy vegetables. These protect our skin cells from damage , so anything else we can do to increase these and protect our skin, the better.
  • Try for warm showers rather than hot. While a hot shower feels so good after a cold day, it can strip the natural oils of the skin, and dry it out even further.

For ways to look younger for longer, check out WAYS TO BOOST COLLAGEN IN THE SKIN

About the Author
Alison Angold is a fully qualified (certified) beauty therapist, massage therapist, and aromatherapist from the UK. She has over 25 years of experience in this industry and has worked in a variety of beauty salons, spa’s as well as running her own successful beauty and massage business. Her career has allowed her to treat many, many clients, with skincare concerns, medical conditions, and a whole variety of other ailments and issues, which has enabled her to work closely with essential oils, prescribing specific blends for these clients to help with these conditions. Her qualifications in the use of essential oils and aromatherapy, allow her to share this knowledge with others, in a safe, reliable way.