How to Battle Cold-Weather Acne

Woman with clear skin in the winter How to Battle Cold-Weather Acne

Treating cold weather acne brings unique challenges if you battle breakouts year-round, preventing winter breakouts while keeping skin moisturized is a tough balancing act. If you're unsure what's best for your skin, board-certified dermatologists Dr. Brooke Jackson and Dr. Tina Alster are here to help. Here's what they suggest for cold weather acne care:

How to Avoid Acne in the Winter

  • Keep Up with the Essentials: Sunscreen, moisturizers, and other skin care protocols are that much more important when cold weather hits. Doing everything you can to protect and heal your skin starts with a solid, every-day skin care routine that you can stick to no matter the weather.
  • Prepare for Drier Skin: According to Dr. Jackson, "Cold weather in particular requires you to use heavier moisturizers and skin care products. "This can be a challenge for acne patients as they navigate dryness and irritation from acne medication in addition to cold weather," she says. "A board-certified dermatologist can help you select treatment options that best suit your skin type." But what if your skin is oily? Turns out, oily skin is often connected to skin dryness. The drier your skin gets, the more oil it produces to compensate. That's because producing more sebum is your skin's natural defense against dryness. When that cycle gets out-of-balance, the extra sebum becomes trapped in the pores and causes acne breakouts.
  • Adjust Skin Care Accordingly: Natural moisturizers and gentler cleansers may be helpful if your skin care routine isn't decreasing winter acne breakouts. In particular, probiotics can help restore the skin's natural barrier against oil, dirt, and other factors that cause breakouts. It's important not to use anything too astringent to maintain the proper balance of oil and moisture.
  • Examine Nutrition: Hydration does wonders for our bodies, including our skin. Dr. Jackson recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a daily priority to prevent skin drying out. "Tea—particularly green tea—is another good choice to reduce inflammation," she says. Natural antioxidants found in fruits like blueberries and cranberries can protect the skin from the effects of harsh weather and colder temperatures. Orange vegetables high in carotenoids can guard against UV ray damage, which can happen in any weather.
  • Observe COVID-19 Safety: Keeping a mask on and keeping your hands clean when you're out and about to prevent COVID-19 is still critical. Since essential skin care and breakout prevention means touching your face, Drs. Jackson and Alster recommend washing your hands with a gentle cleanser before applying any facial products. Changing your face mask on a daily basis keeps your skin and face sanitary, and gives your skin time to breathe.


Dr. Jackson reminds us patience is key, "Our skin is our largest immune organ and therefore will show the effect of stress (COVID, working from home, being removed from your routine, homeschooling, and chronic mask wearing)." If winter acne has got you down, you don't have to tackle it alone. Drs. Alster and Jackson have some dermatologist-developed skin care products that can help. Read more at Martha Stewart Living.

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