A beauty writer's no BS guide on how to fix dry, irritated lockdown skin.

Lockdown and winter weather can mess with even the toughest of skin types, but it’s even harder to manage the changed conditions when you have dry and sensitive skin.  

While extra dryness and flaky skin are quite common around this time, you might also be noticing some extra sensitivity and redness, weird bumpy texture or even unusual breakouts

Lucky you have me, with skin that’s a sensitive snowflake, because I’ve tried and tested approximately 7,495 products aimed at calming and hydrating sensitive skin. And I now know which ones work, and which ones make it all way, way worse. 

Watch: Here are 7 ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

The image on the left is a little look at what my skin looks like when I’ve been a bit relaxed with my routine.

There’s a decent amount of texture across my cheek and around my eyes, but then through the centre of my face and around my nose it’s more tight and dry. 

The image on the right is after I’ve done my routine and you can see how the inflammation has started to calm down and my skin looks less tight.  


Image: Supplied 

So, how can you build or improve your routine to help support your skin? 

In my head, when it comes to a mix of lockdown and winter weather and what it can do to my skin, I like to think about my everyday routine needing to cover three main things: 

  • Replenishing hydration (necessary to replace the moisture lost due to cold and dry environments)

  • Calming inflammation (redness, sensitivity or breakouts as a reaction to the conditions)

  • Improving the skin barrier to prevent moisture loss and external aggressors (an improved skin barrier helps to keep moisture in and protect against an inflammatory response to cold air/wind/rain/snow) 

My recommendations revolve around targeting these three things with heavy-hitting ingredients and a simple routine.  

Listen: What is lockdown skin and how to fix it. Post continues below.


When we see dry patches, redness or breakouts occur in winter, a lot of us tend to reach for an exfoliant or breakout treatment. But the actual cause could be a weakened or disrupted skin barrier, which is better treated by your nourishing ingredients.  

Here’s a quick breakdown on my favourite ingredients to include and what they can do for your skin. 

Panthenol or vitamin B5 is popular for its ability to attract and hold moisture in the skin. This means it’s working to increase skin’s hydration whilst also reducing your trans epidermal water loss - i.e., it stops hydration leaving the skin. There’s also some great evidence it can help calm the appearance of redness caused by sensitivity. 

Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are also popular hydrating ingredients that provide similar benefits.  

Omegas and ceramides are both fantastic for increasing hydration, reinforcing the skin barrier and protecting skin from the signs of environmental damage. Where they differ is the ability omegas have to calm skin, whereas ceramides work to help the skin learn how to restore and renew itself. 

Finally, there's the powerhouse that is niacinamide. In my opinion, it’s one of the best active ingredient options for dry and sensitive skin, because it works in so many ways to improve skin without the sensitivity that other actives like retinol and vitamin C can cause. 


Its main benefits include boosting the skin barrier, improving uneven skin tone and repairing damage caused by external damage like UV light. 

Long story short, these are the sort of powerhouse ingredients that are perfect for treating dry and sensitive skin

It’s also really important to keep on top of your SPF application during winter, so it’s probably worth switching to a more hydrating formula so it’s still comfortable to use.   

Here’s a look at what my routine looks like when I’m really trying to hydrate and calm my skin: 

Image: Supplied 


Now, let’s get to the real reason you’re here – product recommendations and where to fit them in your routine!  

It makes sense to start at the beginning, so let’s have a look at how to best choose a cleanser in winter. 

Best cleansers for dry skin

I like to double cleanse by starting with a balm cleanser and the Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Cleansing Balm, $35.99, is fantastic for removing makeup, SPF and grime without disrupting your skin barrier. 

Other (savey) great options include the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, $12.99, or Q+A Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cleanser, $15, which are both great at cleansing the skin without stripping it and making it even harder to hydrate. 

Best serums for dry skin

A hydrating serum is such a staple in my routine and a great way to set up the rest of your routine. My current top picks are Frank Body Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $21.95 and The Ordinary Hyaluronic 2% + B5, $12.90. They’re both really fantastic formulations that hydrate and soothe skin, all while being very affordable. 

If you’re after something that really packs a punch, the Alpha-H Vitamin B Serum, $79.95, contains niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, panthenol and copper tripeptide all-in-one. 

Remember that hydrating serums like this work best when applied to damp skin, so are best used after cleansing or in combination with a mist. I love the Dr Roebuck’s Bondi Hydrating Mist, $48, because it’s loaded with antioxidants and niacinamide to support your skin.  


Best facial oil for dry skin

If you don’t already have a facial oil in your routine, winter is a fantastic time to add one to really deeply hydrate and nourish your skin. My top picks include Go-To Face Hero, $45, Ren Skincare Omega 3 Optimum Skin Oil, $56 and the La Mav Organics Omega Antioxidant Oil, $69, which are all oil blends containing omegas and powerful antioxidants to soothe and repair skin.  

Best moisturisers for dry skin

Moisturisers and barrier creams sit at the end of your routine to really lock in all the juicy goodness you’ve achieved from the previous steps. The moisturiser I can’t stop reaching for is the Koko & Kush Nuggs and Kisses Moisturiser, $98, which features hemp seed oil – a fantastic source of omegas. 

Two must-haves for me are the Avene Cicalfate Cream, $26.99 and the Lano Golden Dry Skin Miracle Salve, $17.95. I keep a tube of each in my bathroom and my handbag; the Avene cream contains minerals to help soothe irritated or damaged skin, whilst the Lano is all-natural, medical grade lanolin, manuka honey and vitamin E in a super-rich ointment. It's deeply nourishing and I like how it works as a protective balm to alleviate the discomfort of my eczema.  

Best sunscreen for dry skin

SPF is an everyday non-negotiable, and that still holds true in winter, no matter what the weather looks like outside. 

I love to use the Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF50+, $49, as I find it deeply hydrating, but also like to have their Lean Screen SPF50+, $49, or We Are Feel Good Inc Sensitive Sunscreen SPF50+, $17.95, on hand for more sensitive days.  


Whilst the days are shorter, winter can often feel quite long – especially if you have dry skin or are cooped up inside – so hopefully this guide can help bring you and your skin some comfort! 

Are you experiencing dry, sensitive skin right now? What are some of your go-to products? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Supplied/Mamamia

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