We’re Doing Our Winter Skincare Routines All Wrong, According to a Dermatologist

After panic-ordering a bulk supply of leggings and tights during a particularly chilly 13-degree day in London this week, it seems pretty evident to me that winter is well on its way. And while we might have a couple of months until the official start of the season (FYI, winter begins December 22 here in the UK), I've already started making some product swaps for the season ahead.

Yes, that's right: Winter isn't just about embracing the chicest dress-and-boot-combos and prepping for party dressing—it's about switching up your usual skincare routine to season-proof it for the time of year. Turns out, though, most of us stick with the same skincare products no matter the weather or time of year. And according to cosmetic dermatology GP Nyla Raja, MD, that might just be where we're all going wrong with our autumn/winter skincare.

In fact, according to Dr. Nyla, there are five main mistakes we're all making when it comes to our winter skincare routines. Thankfully, I've got the full lowdown from her on the products we should be avoiding during cooler climes and the ingredients we should be looking out for to keep our complexions glowing.

Keep scrolling for the winter skincare mistakes to avoid and to shop the best products to start using right now.

Mistake #1: Using a Foam Cleanser

"A foaming cleanser is a lot harsher and can strip skin from its natural oils," explains Dr. Nyla. "A lot of people often associate a 'clean' feeling with skin that feels tight and squeaky after cleansing, [but] this is not at all the case! If your skin does feel tight after cleansing, that means that you're stripping your skins natural oils, which your skin will supplement the loss with extra sebum production. So ultimately your skin would end up oilier."

The Solution: A cream or oil-based cleanser

This cult Japanese cleansing oil uses olive oil to dissolve all traces of grime and makeup (even waterproof formulas) while nourishing dry skin.

Enriched with moringa seed peptide, this rich cleansing cream defends your skin from daily pollutants and delivers a burst of hydration to improve glow.

A basic but brilliant cleansing balm that gently removes makeup and dirt at the same time as soothing and balancing your skin for a comfortable, healthy complexion.

Mistake #2: Sticking to Lightweight Serums

"As the colder mornings draw in, I always switch up my routine with a stronger moisturiser instead of a lightweight serum," said Dr. Nyla. "If you're on the dry or dehydrated skin spectrum, bitter winds can strip the skin further. It's important to provide the skin with a protective barrier to hold onto moisture to avoid skin losing further hydration—especially for sufferers of psoriasis and eczema, which tend to flare up in the colder months."

The Solution: A rich moisturiser

If you have really dry skin then this plumping, water-based moisturiser delivers intense hydration for up to 48 hours.

Despite being brimming with rich marula oil and nourishing ceramides, this moisturiser sinks into skin incredibly quickly. I love that it also contains vitamin C–rich ingredients like baobab and ximenia to brighten skin too.

A hydrating moisturiser for all skin types that's rich with skin-friendly vitamins, along with sunflower and rose-hip oils to deliver long-lasting hydration and an abundance of glow.

Mistake #3: Skipping SPF

"There are three main factors that contribute to ageing: the sun, sugar and pollution. With the sun being number one, I recommend my clients to where protective SPF all year round, with SPF 50 in the summer and an absolute minimum of SPF 30 in the winter months," advises Dr. Nyla. "In the winter, with the lower doses of ambient and infrared light, people often think, What’s the point? Especially in England, where our winters are cold and wet with the rare glimpse of sunlight. But even your office lighting and your phone screen can be harmful, so it's important to ensure your skin is fully protected with UVA, UVB and infrared light protection."

The Solution: Sunscreen or SPF-infused products

Particularly good for city living, this multipurpose SPF defends against UV rays, pollution and free radicals for healthy, glowy skin.

This is the SPF I've been reaching for daily this year and will continue to use throughout winter. It's so lightweight, doesn't clog my pores, and layers beautifully both over moisturiser and under makeup.

Another great all-rounder for skin protection, this SPF is really hydrating without weighing your skin down while protecting from outside aggressors.

Mistake #4: Ignoring Pigmentation 

"You may notice after the summer that your skin has started to show brown patches and pigmentation, which is important to target immediately," says Dr. Nyla. "For a fast-acting skin treatment, I recommend clients try the Enerpeel at the end of the summer. It's an advanced chemical skin peel that has no down-time, and it controls skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, thread veins and pigmentation."

Start using: Vitamin B3, retinol and acids

Despite being a big fan of retinol, during pregnancy I've had to avoid it entirely, so I'll be using this natural alternative from Herbivore to combat pigmentation instead. It uses 4% bakuchiol, a natural ingredient that's scientifically proven to be just as effective at retinol at targeting hyperpigmentation and fine lines without irritation—making it a great option for sensitive skin types too.

Niacinamide is the most common form of vitamin B3 found in skincare products—one of Dr. Nyla's recommendations for evening skin tone. This affordable serum from The Ordinary is also great for acne-prone skin, as it contains zinc to minimise pores and reduce spot-causing bacteria the same time.

If you're not sure where to start with serums, try switching your usual moisturiser for this retinol-infused one. It'll target dark spots as well as nourishing skin intensely through the winter months.

Mistake #5: Neglecting Nutrition

"What we consume internally is as equally important as what we apply externally to maintain a healthy and radiant complexion. Specifically, in the winter, it's important that we take the necessary dietary supplements every day," says Dr. Nyla. "Many Brits are vitamin D–deficient, and many studies have found that vitamin D can help treat skin conditions like dry skin, psoriasis, or eczema. I highly recommend that you invest in the supplement to keep your skin supple and healthy."

These vitamin D capsules help to support a healthy immune system and improve the condition of your skin, hair and nails.

Specially formulated for women, this vitamin blend contains a healthy dose of vitamin D to boost energy levels as well as the condition of your skin.

Dissolve these berry-flavoured tablets in water for a daily dose of vitamin D.