Why Winter Weather Worsens Acne? Plus Winter Skin Care Tips for Preventing Acne

dry skin natural acne treatment oily skin skin barrier skin health skin microbiome skincare winter weather worsening acne Jan 09, 2023
Winter Weather Worsening Acne & Winter Acne Prevention


Winter is the season of staying cozy indoors by the fireplace, reading a good book and drinking a cup of hot cocoa. There is a unique beauty winter provides after a fresh snow fall with fluffy white snow covering the ground, houses and trees like a blanket. You can hear the distinct sound of your boots crunching in the snow. All of the snow accumulated during winter months makes for fun winter activities like skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, skating, hockey, sledding and building a snowman!


The other side of winter is that it can come with bone-chilling and below freezing temperatures. Dry winter weather and blustery winds can create havoc on your skin. This dry cold weather can damage your skin barrier and strip away your skin’s moisture. This leaves your skin feeling dry, raw and dull. When it’s cold outside, we also tend to crank up the thermostat indoors. This dries out the air indoors and further strips away at your skin’s moisture.

[To learn more about the skin barrier click here.]


A 3-year study observed acne patients during winter and summer months. Researchers found that acne tended to worsen in acne winter months and improve during summer months. Based on this research, you’re probably wondering why the cold winter months creates more acne breakouts?


When your skin is dry, this means the skin’s sebaceous (oil) glands are not able to produce sufficient amount of oil to properly hydrate and protect the skin barrier. The cold winter weather contributes to a damaged skin barrier and the lack of oil produced from the skin’s sebaceous glands. When the skin barrier is compromised this can lead to moisture loss, free radical damage, and bacteria to become opportunistic and invade.  Acne causing bacteria (c.acnes) can thrive and create pustules, papules or cysts under the skin.


Even oily skin types can be affected by dry winter weather. If your skin tends to be oily yet feels rough or dry when you touch it, this is an indication your skin lacks moisture. When the skin is dehydrated and not enough oil is produced, the oil glands can work to alleviate the issue by producing more oil. This can lead your oil glands to go into overdrive and produce excess oil to work towards hydrating your skin again. Having too much oil contributes to clogged pores, blackheads and acne breakouts. Acne bacteria love to thrive in oily environments on the skin.


The cold and dry winter weather can trigger inflammation on the skin in the form of acne or other inflammatory skin conditions. The winter’s cold and chilling winds can create a physical stressor on the skin, thus leading to an increase in inflammation. The shock of cold weather to the body’s system at the beginning of winter, especially when you haven’t become accustomed to the temperature changes yet, presents the greatest risk for acne breakouts.


During winter months it’s crucial for your skin health to focus on HYDRATION! Allowing dry skin to go untreated can lead to premature aging and continuous acne breakouts. Without moisture your skin may become more sensitive and reactive than usual. Those with sensitive skin tend to have a weaker dermal barrier and have trouble from keeping bacteria from penetrating the skin and triggering inflammation.


Winter Skin Care Tips for Preventing Acne


  1.  Avoid using hot water on your skin. During the winter months, you may be more inclined to take long hot baths and showers. While there is nothing wrong with this cozy self-care activity, it is recommended to not wash your face with hot water. This tends to dry out your skin. It is recommended to use lukewarm water when washing your face during your skin care routine. There is no need to excessively wash your face during the day. Post a hot bath or shower, hydrate your body with a moisturizer or oil.
  2.  Hydrate your skin from the inside out. Eating foods that are rich in fatty acids like omega-3s will help replenish your skin’s lipid barrier and protect against moisture loss. This helps to maintain the integrity of your skin’s cells and give you plump, healthy and hydrated looking skin. Healthy fats for your skin include extra virgin olive oil, flax seeds, almonds, avocados, chia seeds, walnuts and fish like salmon and sardines.
  3.  Use a humidifier. Indoor air heaters can dry out the air and strip away moisture from your skin during winter months. You can counteract these drying effects by using a humidifier to help reintroduce moisture into the air.
  4.  Wind and cold protection. Wear a scarf or face covering to protect your skin from the cold and windy outdoor conditions.
  5.  Avoid alcohol in skincare products. Alcohol is an irritant to the skin. Alcohol can damage the skin barrier (natural protective layer) and strips away the skin’s natural oils. Alcohol is harsh for the skin as it leaves your skin more prone to dryness. Avoid this irritating ingredient in your skin care products.
  6. Moisturize. This is such a crucially important step to combating dry winter air. Moisturize in the morning and at night-time. Remember to apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 when outdoors. Look for a moisturizer that contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E or rose-hip oil. Check out the Environmental Working Group for looking up skincare products that are safe for your skin. In my Clear Skin Alchemy 8-week program, I provide acne safe product recommendations for your skin.

Interested in how to heal your acne naturally? Look no further than Clear Skin Alchemy: The Natural Acne Solution. This 8-Week program will walk you through every step of the way on your acne healing journey. Feel confident, radiant and beautiful in your own skin. 

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