No matter the time of year, Colorado is dry. That’s because it’s at a high altitude, and isn’t near any bodies of water, which means humidity is pretty much non-existent. So when winter hits, Michele Koo, MD, a plastic surgeon who lives in Aspen, says the air is super harsh on her skin.
“Living in Aspen kills my skin,” says Dr. Koo. “I already have dry skin to begin with, and the altitude and cold completely send my skin into a parched dull frenzy” Plus, she’s always out skiing, meaning her skin has hours of exposure.
Luckily, Dr. Koo is a skin-care expert and in addition to having her own product line, she knows exactly how to manage her complexion this time of year. Keep reading for her four non-negotiable dry-weather skin tips.
A plastic surgeon’s 4 dry-weather skin tips
1. Up the moisturizing ingredients
This time of year, she leans heavily on the Anti-Oxidant Vitamin Serum ($200) and the Hyaluronic Hydration Myst ($75) from her line, Private Practice. In flooding her skin with moisture via her products, she’s able to counteract the weather-induced dryness.
“I slug with my Anti-Oxidant Vitamin Serum at night,” says Dr. Koo. “A little goes a long way and it is perfect for letting my skin regain its nourishment and moisture simultaneously.” It’s got brightening and protective vitamin C, anti-inflammatory vitamin D, strengthening vitamin E, and plumping vitamin F.
“I also use my Hyaluronic Hydration Myst all day long over my sunscreen for extra protection and hydration,” says Dr. Koo. “The more protected my skin the less I notice wrinkles and sun damage.” In addition to hyaluronic acid, this mist has malachite, a naturally occurring mineral that naturally protects against environmental aggressors like blue light.
2. Tone down the retinol
“I find that the more hydrated my skin is, the less sun damage I tend to get,” says Dr. Koo. “Therefore, I back off on my retinol ($120 to $215) in the winter by going down on the concentration and then increasing my vitamin serum.”
There are four levels of Private Practice retinol, so you can use the best formula for your skin. Dr. Koo usually uses level 2, but drops to level 1 when she’s in Aspen. Each is made with a blend of soothing and moisturizing niacinamide, phytosterols, avocado, coconut, and olive extracts to support skin while counteracting any potential irritation from the retinol.
3. Keep up with sunscreen
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can stop using sunscreen. This is especially true when you’re out and the sun is reflecting off the snow, which happens a lot in snowy Colorado. “I reapply sunscreen religiously every two to three hours when I’m outside,” says Dr. Koo. She loves Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 ($22 to $38) when she’s hiking and skiing, and Chanel’s CC Cream ($55) when she’s out and wants a little coverage.
This totally sheer chemical sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. It also includes red algae to increase skin moisture and protect against all visible light, including blue light; frankincense to strengthen and soothe; and a complex derived from meadowfoam oil to increase hydration levels for a more even skin texture.
This sunscreen blends chemical and mineral sun blockers to protect skin while added pigment provides a tint and blue light protection. It also has vitamin C-rich murunga plum extract and lots of plumping hyaluronic aicd.
4. Sleep with a humidifier
“Even in the summers, at altitude, I have the humidifier constantly running at night,” says Dr. Koo. “The house has a built-in humidifier to counter the dry air.” If your house doesn’t have a built-in humidifier (I now want one?!?) you can use a good ol’ plug-in humidifier, like Canopy ($150).
This humidifier is amazing because it has a built-in UV light and paper filter to sanitize and clean water before it enters the air. And when the water does come out, you won’t even see it—that’s thanks to a super-fine mist that humidifies your environment without the risk of mold.