As a born-and-raised SoCal girl, I had no idea what I was in for when I moved East and experienced my first NYC winter over seven years ago. I mentally prepared myself as best I could for the freezing temperatures — stocking up on winter coats and hats, investing in a SAD lamp, and hoping for the best. But the one thing I did not see coming was the effect that the cold season would have on my skin, transforming it from its usual soft, smooth self into alligator scales from one day to the next.
This is likely an obvious side-effect of winter for those who grew up in locales where the temperatures drop below 65 degrees, but it came as a complete surprise to this writer. And while slightly horrified at first, I tackled the issue head-on, determined to find a solution for my dry winter skin woes. As a die-hard beauty devotee, I made it my mission to find the perfect combination of holy grail products that I could rely on during the stretch of November - March. And while moisturizer is undoubtedly key in this undertaking, I realized that finding the proper scrub for my winter skin was just as, if not more, important. The combination of these two elements is absolutely vital for maintaining a semblance of healthy skin when the weather is brutal.
Physical exfoliants, better known as scrubs, have been around since quite possibly the dawn of man? I was raised on the classic St. Ives scrub, but have since learned that it is much too harsh for me to be used daily. You live, you learn! After years of experimentation, I’ve upgraded to a scrub-forward routine that is gentle enough to keep my skin’s natural moisture barrier intact but effective enough to slough off the itchy, dry skin that plagues me. The key is finding products that are appropriate for each part of your body. What works on your legs isn’t necessarily right for your face or chest. There are so many kinds of moisturizers and scrubs with different uses, formulas, and price points that it can feel overwhelming to parse through them all — but I did it. After much trial and error, these are the ones that I now stick with for all my dry skin needs.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.