For all the joy that winter brings, cold weather can leave skin a bit less cheery. When the humidity drops—as it does in chilly air—the top layer of skin adjusts its own humidity levels to match its surroundings.

As one Penn Medicine expert explains, that process "sucks" moisture out, leaving behind itchy, dry skin. And you can't just stay inside to prevent it: indoor heaters can also reduce humidity and affect the skin.

Fortunately, you don't have to settle for dryness; you just have to know how to protect skin from cold weather. Deep-repair treatments along with slight adjustments to your skin care routine can help restore the moisture—and your cheer—from head to toe.

Give Your Skin What It Needs: Amino Acids

Throughout the year, the layers of your skin fight off bacteria, allergens, pollution, ultraviolet rays, and other substances. Doing all that work, though, can take a toll on the skin barrier. Over time, it can get damaged and eventually become more prone to winter dryness.

Harvard Medical School puts it this way: imagine your skin cells are like a layer of roof shingles that stay in place because "glue" (fat cells) stick them together. When your skin barrier gets damaged from day-to-day wear, it makes that glue less sticky—and that can make your skin more likely to lose moisture.

Amino acids can help repair that damage so that it can lock in moisture for cold days. Different amino acids support different functions in the body, but three in particular—taurine, arginine, and glycine—help accelerate skin cell metabolism and stimulate collagen production.

When you notice dry or damaged skin, which can happen any time of year but particularly as the months get cooler, you might want to start using products with amino acids. To keep things simple, grab EltaMD's new Skin Recovery System, a triple-action combo kit of toner, serum, and moisturizer that uses taurine, arginine, and glycine to get your skin back to a winter-ready state.

Consider Winter Skin Care Tips and Choices

Some day-to-day changes to your routine can make a difference, as well. No matter the time of year, everyone needs a three-part regimen of cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen—but the specific products you use may need to be adjusted slightly as the seasons change.

  • A cleanser you like in the spring or summer may prove to be a little too tough on skin when it's most vulnerable during dry winter weather. So, consider trying something more gentle that doesn't have glycolic acids and other ingredients known to irritate sensitive skin.
  • Your moisturizer may also need to adjust as the months cool down, since something light and airy in the spring may not give enough moisture to get through the dry months. Luxurious, moisture-rich creams are a go-to pick for all-over protection.
  • You need sunscreen year-round, even during grey winter months. But the type of sunscreen may vary depending on the season. Super-moisturizing replenishing sunscreens are essential for cold temperatures.

In conjunction with gentle and moisture-rich products, your skin may also benefit from these self-care choices:

  • Watch how long you're in the shower or bath, and resist the urge to make it too hot. As tempting as it may be to take a steamy, relaxing shower in the cold months, frequent bathing and hot water can strip away the skin's natural oils.
  • Be wary of scented products like cleansers, lotions, or bubble baths you get over the holidays. They may smell great, but the harsh ingredients can dry out the skin.
  • Get a humidifier and set it around 60 percent to use in your bedroom and living room during cold winter months. This can help get humidity levels back up to restore your skin's outer layer.
  • Lotion your hands right after washing them. Moisturizers work best if they're applied when the skin is still slightly wet.
  • Prepare for outdoor activities, like skiing, by slathering on an intensive moisturizer in the morning, right after a quick shower. Follow up with sunscreen SPF 30 or greater. Pack extra moisturizer, sunscreen, and lip balm—you'll need to reapply frequently throughout the day to lock in moisture and protect against the sun's rays.

Keeping Skin Happy and Healthy

When the weather outside is frightful, skin can be too. But with a winter skin care plan in place, and knowing how to protect skin from cold weather, you can enjoy all the good tidings from this fun time of year. Just follow some everyday best practices and grab those amino acids when your skin needs a little extra TLC. Happy, healthy skin awaits—all season long.