Puffy coats, hot tea, and shimmery snowflakes come to mind when we think about winter. But so does tight, dehydrated skin, a weak barrier, inflammation, breakouts, and sensitivities. As the seasons change, so should your skincare regimen, and starting with the best serum for winter that keeps your complexion protected while it strengthens and nourishes skin is life-changing.
Freezing air, wind, indoor heating, and low humidity are all culprits that impact your complexion during winter. So, to keep your skin resilient and healthy while it battles plummeting temperatures, you need to swap your regular serum for one infused with skin-repairing actives, like vitamin C, fatty acids and peptides, and plenty of moisture sealers, such as squalane and ceramides. Also, you want to consider ingredients that defend the skin microbiome against external damage, like probiotics, cholesterol, oatmeal, and niacinamide. Each element above soothes sensitized skin, reinforces the barrier, and prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL) — all common winter skin concerns — while being gentle and not bothering your complexion.
Aside from using a targeted serum, to successfully transition to your winter routine, we recommend you quit using harsh cleansers that contain sulfates and be mindful of intense exfoliants, drying alcohol, astringents, and fragrances, as they may strip the skin of essential moisture. What’s more, you can add a humidifier for an extra source of hydration while you Zzz, consider a moisturizer for winter, and never skip sunscreen.
To help you get through the cold season with a hydrated, resilient complexion, we pulled out the best winter face serums that target different skin types and concerns, so you can easily find the perfect match.
The best winter face serums
Purito Centella Unscented Serum
This serum is ideal for cold months because it’s made on a base of 49% Centella asiatica extract, plus three other compounds of this skin-loving plant, all working in tandem to fortify the barrier and repair damaged skin. Additionally, the formula packs ceramide and a blend of peptides which have a key role in strengthening the skin while soothing and restoring it, ideal for winter months. It suits everyone and anyone as it’s void of oil, fragrance, and alcohol and has a gel-like nourishing texture that instantly relieves the skin without feeling tacky or sticky.
SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum
You can’t go wrong with SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum, a cult classic infused with a growth factor cocktail — aka peptide that signals the skin to stimulate cell growth, proliferation, and healing — plus other peptides, probiotics, and proteins to justify its price points. The serum improves the look of fine lines and wrinkles and smooths texture while it fortifies the skin so you can face the dropping temperatures without redness or irritation.
The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide and 1% Zinc
The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide and 1% Zinc has what it takes to be the best winter serum for acne-prone skin. While niacinamide balances sebum, hydrates, soothes, and strengthens the barrier, zinc is good at reinforcing skin and reducing swelling. Briefly, this serum is the perfect solution to fight blemishes and excess sebum while being gentle and soothing — winter won’t stand a chance. Pair it with a winter moisturizer for breakout-prone skin and enjoy balanced, hydrated, healthy-looking skin all winter long.
Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum
Some would say to dodge retinol during winter, but actually, retinol is great at thickening the skin and rebuilding it, so you just need a mild product for winter use. We consider the Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum ideal because it packs encapsulated retinol that acts gently on the skin, plus 1% bakuchiol, a natural compound considered a great retinol alternative. The jelly texture is a joy to slather on, so pampering that’ll make you look further to doing your nighttime routine.
Clinical Skin PolyPeptide Serum
A damaged barrier is one of the most common concerns during winter, and Clinical Skin PolyPeptide Serum is here to save the day. On top of everything, the formula loads a meaningful concentration of Matrixyl, which is one of the most researched peptides known to help maintain the skin’s structure and build proteins. There are also copper peptides to support collagen and elastin for a robust barrier, while a mingle of ceramides backs the barrier some more. This serum is a smart addition to any winter skin routine as it’s perfectly formulated to protect, soothe and repair while adding a serious dose of moisture.
Cosrx Full Fit Propolis Light Ampoule
Propolis is a gentle ingredient that accelerates skin healing and stimulates collagen growth while ensuring no moisture is lost, and this serum has 83.3% of it, making it the best winter serum for dehydrated skin. It also infused hydration thanks to a few humectants, including sodium hyaluronate and panthenol, so your skin won’t become parched this winter. Despite how rich the formula is, the texture is not heavy and never leaves the skin tacky but plump and with a healthy glow.
Cocokind Ceramide Barrier Serum
Most people deal with sensitivities during winter, and this serum does the job of soothing, comforting, and rebuilding stronger skin. This is possible due to a potent blend of five ceramides and cholesterol, which are the most major skin barrier lipids — the more robust the barrier, the fewer chances for sensitivities. We also like it because it’s made on a soothing (and certified organic) aloe leaf juice instead of water, is hypoallergenic, and skips any aggressive compound you may think of.
Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum
Vitamin C is a winter essential because it defends against external damage, increases moisture retention, induces collagen and ceramide production, and brightens. Well, this serum packs two stable forms of vitamin C that vow to even tone while neutralizing free radicals, along with vitamin E and green tea, preventing further discoloration, too. The creamy texture instantly relieves dry winter skin, leaving it moist and comfortable, and the formula gets extra credit because it lacks fragrances and drying alcohol.