The Best Winter Skin Care Products to Add to Your Cabinet


The Best Winter Skin Care Products to Add to Your Cabinet

Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD
By Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD
Feb 18, 2021 - Updated Apr 12, 2021
The Best Winter Skin Care Products to Add to Your Cabinet

From head to toe, the biggest skin issue we see in the winter is dry, itchy, uncomfortable skin. From a dry scalp causing dandruff, to flaky skin on the face, to chapped lips, and dry hands, elbows, and knees, the lack of humidity in the winter can lead to dry skin and discomfort. Here’s a look at the best winter skin care products to treat winter skin, and some pro tips for keeping your skin moisturized during the driest months of the year.

Best Winter Skin Care Products to Add to Your Cabinet

To treat dry skin on the face, hands, and scalp, you’ll want to consider adding winter skin care products to the cabinet. These products may include:

  • Dandruff shampoo
  • Thick body creams
  • Ointments
  • Moisturizing body washes, or oils
  • Topical steroids
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What are some of the best over-the-counter products for winter skin?

If you’re dealing with dry skin on your scalp, face, hands, or body, there are many excellent OTC products that may help.

OTC Winter Skin Care Products for Dry Scalp/Dandruff

Dry, flaking skin on the scalp is not only uncomfortable, but its appearance may bother you. Interestingly enough, dandruff is not limited to the scalp. During the winter it may appear in the eyebrows, or on the face. When it appears on the face, it may be mistaken for rosacea or eczema. For mild cases of dandruff, try an

  • OTC shampoo that contains zinc and selenium sulfide, such as:
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Selsun Blue

Pro tip: if you have mild dandruff on your eyebrows or face, you can use a little bit of your dandruff shampoo on your face when you wash it.

OTC Winter Skin Care Products for Dry Skin on the Face

Remember the hierarchy of hydration when considering your winter skin care face creams and cleansers. The base of the emollient determines the hydration strength. Creams are more hydrating than lotions, and ointments are more hydrating than creams. OTC products with great hydrating properties for your face include:

  • LaRoche Posay Cicaplast Balm Cream

Pro tip: There is a misconception that your face or body needs to be completely dry before applying your moisturizer. This is a myth! When you get done showering or washing your face, apply your cream or lotion as soon as possible (within 60 seconds of turning off the water), while your skin is still damp. The evaporation process when you’ve finished washing actually dries the skin out. So get your moisturizer on as soon as possible.

OTC Winter Skin Care Products for Dry Skin on the Body

In the winter, millions of Americans experience a 20-30% drop in relative humidity in the air, leading to dry skin. The dry air actually tries to pull the moisture from our skin. To keep your skin hydrated during the winter, remember that thicker creams are more hydrating than a lotion, and ointments are even more hydrating than creams. You might consider trying these OTC products:

  • Neutrogena Norweigan Formula for hand and/or body
  • Aquaphor healing ointment

In addition, it’s a good idea to trade in bar soap for a moisturizing body wash, or body oil during the winter months. Bar soap that contains detergent can be used under your arms, or in other areas of the body if you feel you need actual soap. But if you’re not getting your body dirty, switch to a moisturizing wash in the winter to help keep your skin hydrated.

Pro tip: Adding a humidifier to your home to produce artificial moisture is a great way to combat dry winter skin. I have one running in my home, and my office all winter long! My favorite brand is Canopy because it’s easy to clean and doesn’t get the surroundings moist.

OTC Winter Skin Care Products for Dry/Chapped Lips

Dry and chapped lips are very common in the winter. Children, in particular, may also get dry cracks and sores in the corner of the lips, which is a condition known as angular cheilitis. This is caused by saliva leaking from the mouth.

Saliva has digestive enzymes in it which get on the skin, causing cracks and sores. To keep lips moisturized during the winter, consider adding these winter skin care products to your cabinet and regimen:

  1. Aquaphor
  2. Vaseline

Pro tip: you can use a little bit of diaper cream that contains zinc oxide on your lips for extra hydration, and to prevent chapping and cracking. As a bonus, diaper creams are antimicrobial, which help prevent the growth of bacteria or the spreading of viruses, such as the virus responsible for cold sores.

What prescription medications are available for winter skin?

There are plenty of prescription-strength medications that can help treat common winter skin conditions including dandruff, chapped lips, and dry cracked hands, feet, elbows, knees, etc. Some prescription medications your dermatologist might prescribe to help treat winter skin include:

  • Clobetasol Propionate Emollient (generic for the brand drug Olux)
  • 2% Ketoconazole Cream (generic for the brand drug Nizoral)
  • Triamcinolone acetonide (generic for the brand drug Kenalog)
  • Fluocinolone acetonide body (generic for Derma-Smoothe FS scalp)
  • Ciclopirox (generic for Loprox, prescription-strength dandruff shampoo)
Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
Clobetasol Propionate Emollient $44.19
Ketoconazole $9.66
Triamcinolone Acetonide $1.07
Fluocinolone Acetonide Body $55.57
Ciclopirox $38.20

Clobetasol Propionate Emollient (Generic Olux)

Olux and its generic, clobetasol propionate emollient help treat dry, rough, scaly patches that may develop during the winter due to inflammation. It is a topical steroid, combined with emollients, which help soften and moisturize skin while protecting the skin from irritation.

Ketoconazole (Generic Nizoral)

2% Ketoconazole, the generic for the brand drug Nizoral, may be prescribed by a dermatologist to treat a specific kind of dandruff that appears on the face in the winter months.

Triamcinolone Acetonide (Generic Kenalog)

Triamcinolone acetonide, the generic for the brand drug Kenalog, is a topical steroid cream. It helps relieve itching, swelling, and redness that can be caused by eczema, dermatitis, etc.

Fluocinolone Acetonide (Generic Derma-Smoothe FS)

Fluocinolone acetonide, the generic for Derma-Smoothe FS Scalp is prescribed to treat dandruff, by reducing swelling, itching, redness, and dryness of the scalp. It is a corticosteroid treatment that provides great hydration.

Ciclopirox (Generic Loprox Shampoo)

Ciclopirox, the generic for Loprox shampoo, helps to treat a dry scalp and dandruff, caused by a type of dermatitis.

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Maintaining Healthy Skin in the Winter

To keep your skin hydrated and healthy during the winter, be sure you’re not using a drying wash or cleanser, as the air is much drier this time of year. That means it’s incredibly important to moisturize with a hydrating cream or ointment as well.

This winter, as we’re washing our hands more than ever, it’s particularly important to make sure to pay attention to your hands. Don’t be afraid to use thicker creams, or even ointments on areas with fewer oil glands, including arms, hands, legs, and feet.

If OTC treatments don’t help, be sure to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist who can prescribe medication to help your skin heal, and maintain a healthy appearance all winter long.

Clobetasol Propionate Emollient: 0.05 % / 1 can

Ketoconazole: 2 % / 120 ml

Triamcinolone Acetonide: 0.1 % / 1 tube

Fluocinolone Acetonide Body: 0.01 % / 118.28 ml

Ciclopirox: 1 % / 120 ml

*Lowest online price at national pharmacy chains Costco, CVS, RiteAid, Walgreens and Walmart as of 4/12/2021. Prices vary by location and pharmacy, see for actual pricing in your area.

Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD

Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD

Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified and nationally-acclaimed dermatologic surgeon. Widely celebrated for her expertise in neurotoxins, injectable fillers and chemical peels, she provides a wide range of treatments including fat removal, mole excision, Mohs surgery, and skin cancer treatment. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, and American College of Mohs Surgery. She regularly appears as a dermatologic expert on national shows including Good Morning America, TODAY, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, Inside Edition & many more. Dr. Engelman is the Dermatology expert for RxSaver.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

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