Visions of winter often include snow-white, glittering landscapes, warm drinks, and cozy nights by a fire. What you don’t see is the itchy, flaky skin that is caused by dehydration due to a sudden drop in humidity levels. You don’t have to suffer through this irritating condition throughout the season. Below is our quick and easy guide on how to prevent winter skin and retain your skin’s natural rosy-cheeked glow:

1. Start from within.

One of the easiest ways to alleviate dry skin is by countering moisture loss from the inside. You’ll want to get your recommended daily intake of water and supplement your diet with foods that’ll help keep your skin soft and supple. Turn to water-rich fruits and vegetables like watermelon and cantaloupe, zucchini and carrots, as well as walnuts, olive oil, and avocados. These foods are rich in good fats. Try to stay away from alcohol and caffeine, which have a diuretic effect that may exacerbate dehydration.

2. Wash your face wisely.

Taking your makeup off and keeping your skin clean is one of the tenets of keeping it healthy. This winter, make smart choices when it comes to cleansers. Even though skin wipes are a convenient solution after a long, tiring day, they’re often soaked in drying chemicals that strip the moisture right off your skin.

Take the time out for a proper cleansing routine, starting with removing your makeup with care before moving on to a product that gently lifts dirt and oil from your skin. We recommend the double-cleansing method that’s popular in Korea and Japan. Use an oil cleanser for dissolving your makeup, since this prevents your skin from losing moisture. Follow it up with a hydrating cleanser that purifies the skin without drying it out.

3. Don’t skip the exfoliation.

Even the best moisturizer in the world won’t effectively relieve dryness if you don’t exfoliate your skin. Exfoliating gets rid of the dead skin cells, excess oil, sebum, and residue sitting on the surface of your skin, which may be making it hard for the active ingredients in your skincare products to penetrate the places where they’re needed the most.

However, keep in mind that overexfoliating will do you more harm than good. Use a gentle facial scrub and skip hard abrasives that may cause micro-tearing, like those made with fruit pits and shells. Seek out a product that is formulated with glycolic or lactic acid, which does the job much more gently. Also, try to limit your retinoid use, as strong exfoliant use may result in even dryer skin, which we’re trying to avoid. If your skin is very dry and raw, though, you may want to skip chemical exfoliation entirely and scrub your face with a wet washcloth instead.

4. Bring out the big guns.

Moisturizing your skin, especially in the winter months, is something that should be done automatically. But to combat the havoc that the low temperatures wreak onto your skin, your best bet is to bring out the heavy artillery. We’re talking about heavy creams and moisturizers that pack a seriously hydrating punch. Skip watery lotions and light moisturizers and stash them for the sunny, humid days instead. Products that contain hyaluronic acid and ceramides will be your best friend during the winter months as they attract moisture from the air and environment to keep your skin hydrated and supple. At the same time, these substances protect the skin’s natural moisture barrier, which is easily broken down in winter.

5. The best offense is a good defense

Protecting yourself from the harsh rays of the sun can go a long way towards alleviating and preventing dry skin. Get yourself a good sunscreen product and slather it on religiously whenever you go out. We can’t stress how important this step is, especially if you have plans on hitting the slopes during a ski holiday. The air is thinner up in the mountains, which offers little by way of protection from the sun’s rays. Don’t think you’re safe just because the sky happens to be grey and the weather is gloomy, either. The ideal sunscreen offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays and should have an SPF of 30 and above in order to prevent sun burns, dark spots, uneven pigmentation and premature aging. Also, look into layering up with protective winter clothing.

A Few Final Touches

While it’s tempting to draw yourself a hot bath on a cold winter night, we advise against the practice: prolonged exposure to heat and water can make dry skin worse. In taking care of your skin, don’t forget to also take care of your lips; they also need to be kept hydrated and protected from the sun, so invest in a great lip balm that provides both. Finally, start keeping a hand cream with you, and use it after you wash your hands. This will help keep your hands and fingertips soft and moisturized.