The official start of winter may still be a few weeks away, but the time to adjust your skincare regimen is definitely now! Cold-weather season brings dryness, low temps, and indoor heating action that can all stress the skin. Just as we need to adapt our diet and exercise to changing needs, we also need to switch up our skincare practices throughout the year. Also, did you know that there are certain treatments that work best during wintertime? Here are three things to think of as winter approaches:

1. Work on those spots. Now that summer has ended and we’re not sunbathing, it’s the perfect time to address discoloration issues. Since sun exposure triggers hyperpigmentation (discoloration), you have to stay out of the sun for quite a few months whenever you’re working on pigment spots, so that makes this time of year the best time to start hyperpigmentation treatments. New clinical-grade treatments are gentle (unlike pro-inflammatory and carcinogenic hydroquinone treatments), safe, comfortable, and actually treat all the causes of hyperpigmentation. Many drugstore and department store options treat only some of the causes of hyperpigmentation, so this is why finding the right treatment is so important. Pairing a good at-home regimen with monthly in-studio treatments speeds up the process tremendously. Monthly microdermabrasion or peel treatments will help to reduce discoloration, as well as help to stave off dryness issues by clearing away dead skin and firm up the skin!

Recommendations: Epionce’s Pigment Perfecting Serum in the evening, Epionce’s Melanolyte Tx during the day. If rosacea or cystic acne is also an issue, I would recommend iS Clinical’s Pro Heal Advance+ Serum as the daytime treatment. Monthly professional treatments will greatly speed up discoloration treatments. For serious hyperpigmentation, add monthly micro-needling treatments. Also, sunscreen is an absolute MUST! (Or else your spots will all come back!)

2. Switch out your moisturizer. If you’re anything like me, you may need to use a denser moisturizer. This isn’t to say that you need to apply a heavy balm or cream, but a slight shift towards something a little more emollient now may save your skin from the itchiness and irritation that results from prolonged dryness later down the line.

While I switch out for a different moisturizer in winter, I understand that not everybody wants to swap out for an entirely different regimen come wintertime. If you want to keep using your current moisturizer, you can actually enhance it with a few drops of argan oil, Vitamin E oil, or jojoba oil (which is actually the closest substance to our skin’s natural sebum). This trick will increase the occlusive quality of your moisturizer, making it better able to trap moisture in the skin. The catch is that I wouldn’t recommend cocktailing oils into ultra-expensive, anti-aging moisturizers, because the oils will diminish the ability of the moisturizer to sink in deeply, because oils are of a larger molecular size and can obstruct penetration. A lot of the expensive creams utilize sophsticated delivery systems such as peptides that help deliver anti-aging agents to the right places in the skin, and if you’re cutting your creams with oils, it’ll inhibit the delivery agent’s ability to do its job. Better to cocktail with the more standard options, and save the good stuff for when it’s appropriate for the season.

Now, if your office abuses the indoor heating, you’ll also want to use a hydrating serum, which you’ll layer under your moisturizer. It’ll give you that extra boost of moisture. (The difference here is that moisturizer keeps moisture in, while a hydrating serum adds moisture.)

Tip: If you’re dehydrated, drinking more water may not be the solution. Recent studies have indicated that increasing your intake of good fats and essential fatty acids are necessary to maintain hydration levels!

Recommendations: Somme Institute’s Skin Reset, Epionce’s Renewal moisturizers or Medical Barrier Cream, PCA’s Collagen Hydrator. Skin Reset and the Renewal moisturizers are anti-inflammatory treatments that actually repair your skin to help keep hydration and moisture from escaping. The Renewals are incredibly fortifying and healing, while Skin Reset protects your collagen. Medical Barrier Cream is super protective and hydrating without greasiness. Collagen Hydrator is a good hydrating, firming option for the budget conscious. For serums, I recommend iS Clinical’s Hydra Cool Serum, which contains ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid, Vitamin b12, anti-inflammatory centella asiatica, and pigment regulating mushroom extracts. Monthly peels or hydrodermabrasion treatments will also help to keep the flakies at bay!

3. Limit hot showers! This goes along with #2. Hot showers feel amazing when temperatures drop, but it also dries out your skin, so limit your time in the shower to keep that barrier strong. Make sure to apply a good moisturizer while your skin is still damp, and that’ll keep your skin soft and supple.

Recommendations: Epionce’s Extreme Barrier Cream. It’s similar to the skin-saving Medical Barrier Cream, but contains additional skin soothing essential oils. My body skin is notoriously dry, itchy, and flaky, and I can’t live without this product because it really moisturizes without excess greasiness.

4. Sun protection! Just because the clouds roll in doesn’t mean that UV rays can’t reach us. Remember–we can’t see UV light, so just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean that you’re not getting hit by UV rays. The truth is that 80% of the sun’s UV rays actually penetrate past cloud cover. So, whether your goals are firming, lifting, smoothing wrinkles, or erasing discoloration, it all hinges on your commitment to reduce free radical damage–that means sunscreen every day and no smoking! (Just one puff from a cigarette unleashes enough free radicals to damage every cell in your body.) Free radical damage wreaks havoc on your cells, so that’s why I can’t take anybody’s commitment to their skin’s health seriously if they smoke or use tanning booths.

Tip: Ask your doctor about taking a Vitamin D supplement if you’re afraid of not getting enough. We’re nearly all Vitamin D deficient in the Pacific Northwest, anyway, so get it through your diet and spare your skin the sun!

Recommendations: PCA Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45 for normal-to-combination skin, PCA Hydrator Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 30 for normal-to-dry skin. Or if you’re a minimalist, go for iS Clinical’s Extreme Protect SPF 30 — it’s a moisturizer, extremozyme (DNA protection) treatment, and sunscreen all in one!

5. Get your exfoliation on. There are a few really good reasons why resurfacing treatments are great for winter. First, you need to avoid the sun before and after a peel, and that’s just easier to accomplish during wintertime. Secondly, you want to look fresh for all those holiday photos and parties, and resurfacing treatments can help you achieve that! Thirdly, as long as your skin isn’t too delicate or compromised, it’ll be a great way to prevent flakiness and dryness down the line because you’ve done away with the excess, dead debris on the surface of your skin–just make sure that you’re using a good moisturizer, too! And if you’re scared of peels–don’t worry–the new generation of peels are hi-tech, sophisticated blends that require very minimal downtime. They’re safe, and there are even peels for sensitive skin types!

If peels aren’t your mileage, also consider microdermabrasion (I do wet microdermabrasion, or, hydrodermabrasion) and dermaplaning. Both are fantastic, no-downtime treatments. Dermaplaning is especially great for women, as it also removes peach fuzz in the process, which gives the skin an airbrushed look. Makeup application following dermaplaning is also smooth and flawless for this reason. Hydrodermabrasion, on the other hand, is great for dehydrated skin, breakout prone skin, and hyperpigmented skin. For the truly adventurous, these two treatments can also be combined with peels–I’ve done this many times during facials and achieved luminous, gorgeous effects!

Recommendations: If you’re doing resurfacing treatments, you should really consider upping your skin care game. Epionce’s Intense Defense Serum contains every vitamin your skin needs and is a potent anti-ager and anti-oxidant. iS Clinical’s Youth Complex is proven to drive up collagen production for firmer skin, is hydrating, plumping, and lightly exfoliating, so you can prolong the results of your treatments. PCA Skin’s Rejuvenating Serum is also a great hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and collagen boosting serum. And, as always, if you’re revealing new skin, you need to use a good SPF every day!