The 7 Skincare Ingredients You Need To Be Using In Winter

By Astrid Carter | 6th December 2022
Winter skincare products

From harsh central heating to frosty outdoor temperatures, the onslaught of winter can play havoc with skin, causing everything from breakouts to dry patches and redness. But there are some hard-working skincare ingredients out there that are here to help. From vitamin-packed glow givers to wonder products that will slough off parched winter skin, read on for the seven you need to know about.

Hyaluronic Acid

The king of moisture-boosting skincare ingredients, if you’re not already using hyaluronic acid, start. The hard-working ingredient can hold 1,000 times its weight in water (impressive) and is found naturally in the skin, helping to keep it looking firm, fresh and plump. But it’s no bad thing to give mother nature a helping hand. This star ingredient is one of the quickest ways to quench thirsty skin, and it’s pretty much suitable for everyone, from sensitive to oily complexions. 

The ingredient has become a bit of a beauty buzzword in recent years, meaning it’s made its way into countless skincare products, from serums to sheet masks. But if you really want to reap hyaluronic’s benefits, go for a product centred around the ingredient itself – the purer, the better. We love Japanese brand Hada Labo’s Tokyo Anti Ageing Super Hydrator Lotion as it contains an incredible three different types of hyaluronic acids to really lock in moisture, as well as anti-wrinkle ingredients, collagen, retinol and tetrapeptide-5.

Top tip: Always apply a moisturiser over the top of your H. This will help the structure hold on to even more moisture, lock it in and and help skin stay smooth and plump. 


AHAs, or Alpha-Hydroxy Acids, are water-soluble acids derived from sugar cane or plants, and, despite the slightly terrifying name, they can be very gentle and a great way of getting rid of dead skin cells. Sloughing away this top layer of skin harvests a bounty of benefits, from making skin glow to allowing your makeup to go on more smoothly.

AHAs come in multiple forms, but the most common is probably glycolic acid. It offers a gentler but more results-driven way to exfoliate without the need for harsh textured products or moisture-stripping toners. An absolute game-changer and one of our skincare heroes year-round, not just in winter.


A change in season can come with a change in your skin, so it’s important to try and reverse these shifts with topical skincare wherever possible. Enter, ceramides. Ceramides, like hyaluronic acid, are found naturally in the skin and act as a barrier to keep skin healthy. When cold weather and harsh central heating set in, these barriers are compromised, but products from cleaners to serums containing ceramides help lock in moisture and protect skin from pollutants. 

For a cult product that defies its frugal price tag, check out CeraVe Micellar Cleansing Water with Niacinamide & Ceramides. Suitable for all skin types and great for using as a first cleanse or to take off stubborn makeup, it’s fuss-free skincare at its finest. Plus, it’s under £10!


Think of niacinamide as Xanax for your skin. The calming ingredient is a winter skincare wonder, promising to soothe weather-ravaged skin and a dull complexion caused by unnatural central heating and lack of sunlight in the darker months. It’s also great for regulating oil production, making it a good choice for all skin types, but particularly those who suffer from breakouts. 

You’ll find it in many guises, from a simple serum – we rate Face Gym’s Hydro-Bound Daily Serum, especially for oily skin – to The Ordinary’s 100% Niacinamide Powder, a genius formulation that can be added straight to your favourite water-based product, such as a serum or moisturiser.


Retinol poses many skincare questions. What age should you start using it? Will it strip my skin? What’s the deal with SPF? In short, retinol is one of the most potent at-home skincare ingredients out there, and used correctly, and it can completely transform your skin. 

Common misconceptions are that it’s an exfoliant, will strip your skin and cause a Samantha from SATC-esque face peel moment. It’s actually an antioxidant derived from vitamin A and encourages skin to stimulate the production of elastin and collagen and promote skin cell turnover. The results? Brighter, more even skin tone and less lines and wrinkles. The dream. 

Top tip: Always use retinol at night as it exposes skin to much higher levels of sun damage. If you have used it the night before, SPF is essential the next day too. 


Speaking of, if you thought SPF was only necessary for summer, think again. SPF is probably the most important skincare ingredient if you want to reduce the signs of ageing on the skin. Layer it after your moisturiser and before your foundation, bb cream, etc if you’re wearing one. 

Favourites include; French pharmacy hero La Roche-Posay Anthelios range – not too thick or tacky; and Glossier’s Invisible Shield which totally lives up to its name. It’s so light you’ll barely know you’re wearing it. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C isn’t just for fighting off winter colds, it’s great for skin too. Benefits include restoring the skin after sun damage (this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear SPF!), protecting the skin from everyday damage, giving skin a glow and helping to fade dark spots. 

When it comes to favourites, SkinCeuticals is on the skincare regime of just about every MUA, skincare expert and beauty influencer and it is brilliant but it doesn’t come cheap. For a more purse-friendly option, we really rate Ole Henriksen Truth Serum too. 

Top tip: Use in the morning to give your skin protection from free radicals throughout the day. Often, you’re wasting your money using it at night only to go to sleep and wash it off again in the morning.

The products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however, The Handbook may make a small commission on some products purchased through affiliate links.

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