From cozy evenings by the fire, with hot chocolate and comforting food, there's a lot to enjoy about the colder months. But when it comes to your skin, you might find some of the effects of winter weather less enjoyable—especially if you have a drier, acne-prone skin type.

You have probably experienced dry, itchy skin in the winter, but the cooler temperatures and harsh winds can also lead to breakouts. But, why is acne worse in the winter? Here, learn why it is so common and how to care for acne-prone skin in the winter.

Why Is Acne Worse in the Winter?

You may think that sweat and humidity in the summer would be an ideal combination for acne, but acne is generally worse in the winter thanks to the cold air, low humidity, and dry heat pumping through the vents. The harsh winter weather can damage your skin's protective barrier—the skin's natural way of keeping moisture in and environmental aggressors out.

When the barrier is weakened, surface lipids are stripped from the skin, leaving it drier, more sensitive, and exposed to acne-causing bacteria. Once this bacteria enters the skin, acne breakouts increase.

Protecting Acne-Prone Skin from Dryness

If you experience super dry skin and acne in the winter, prevention is key. As soon as the weather starts to turn cold, your first step in prevention is to rebuild your skin's protective barrier with humectants and moisturizing ingredients. This will help your skin defend against nasty bacterias in the environment and maintain healthy levels of hydration.

As such, your skin care routine will play a huge role in protecting you from dryness. You'll need a gentle cleanser that doesn't strip the skin of lipids, like the EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser, as well as a moisturizer to provide just the right amount of hydration but without creating congestion in the pores or an excess amount of oil. EltaMD Skin Recovery System can also help repair your damaged skin barrier and return it to a healthy state.

Finding the Right Moisturizer for Acne-Prone Skin

When choosing a moisturizer, look out for terms such as "non-comedogenic." This means that the moisturizer's formula is developed specifically with ingredients that won't clog the skin or make breakouts worse.

Your skin also needs a good amount of barrier-protecting ingredients, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and squalene. These types of humectants help to retain water and provide long-lasting yet lightweight hydration while preventing further dry skin.

EltaMD's AM Therapy Moisturizer is an ideal form of hydration for sensitive skin as it helps to moisturize without the use of oil or heavy emollients. It also features hyaluronic acid to help moisture absorption and retention, and it's non-comedogenic so it won't block your pores. Apply it each morning after cleansing, and before your daily broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Less Is More in Your Winter Skin Care

When your skin starts to get dry and itchy in the winter, you may be tempted to over-cleanse and soothe your skin with hot showers and lots of moisturizers—but this can further dehydrate your skin. Remember that less is more with your winter skin care. While you may experience temporary relief from loading up on moisturizer and slipping into a hot, steamy bath on a cold day, you may be doing more harm than good. Overdoing it with skin care products and soaking in hot water can strip your skin of lipids and fats, which disrupts the skin barrier, creating inflammation—a perfect storm for acne. Try to limit showers to once a day, use lukewarm water, and keep them to five minutes in length.

And, as you step into the colder months, don't forget to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day to protect the skin barrier and strengthen its defense against ultraviolet rays.

Now that you know acne can be worse in the winter, you can take steps to prevent the cold weather from wreaking havoc on your skin. Ultimately, keeping your skin healthy will help you better enjoy the cozy winter months.


  • Catherine Hufton

    Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.

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