Dr. Dennis Gross Tells Us The No. 1 Skincare Mistake People Make In The Winter

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Winter is exciting because we're so close to the holidays, which means gifts, food, and family gatherings galore. But the colder months can be rough on people who struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as they tend to feel more down with a lack of sunshine (via the Mayo Clinic). Our skin also suffers when the temperature drops. And, just like how we change our wardrobe from playful sundresses in the summer to warm coats in the winter, we should also adjust our skincare routine accordingly. 

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As Michigan-based dermatologist Linda C. Honet, MD, explained to New Beauty: "Winterizing skin care means using creamier bases, layering on non-comedogenic oils, and seeking more emollient combinations of ceramides, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, glycerin, and even petrolatum to help ward off winter dryness, irritation, flaking, and itch and bring back the hydration, glow and luminosity of hydrated skin." It's tempting to take extra-long hot showers in the winter, but sadly that's another no-no. 

"Take brief lukewarm showers no more than once per day," board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, MD, advised Real Simple, noting that exposing your skin to hot water for too long could make it even drier. The No. 1 mistake women make with their skincare routines may surprise you but, in winter, it's a whole different ballgame. The List spoke with one of New York City's best dermatologists, Dr. Dennis Gross, the co-founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, to get the scoop on what to avoid. 

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SPF is still a requirement even during the colder months

It should come as no surprise that sunscreen is essential, but people forget it because they get lazy or busy. However, it's imperative for healthy skin, even in wintertime. In an exclusive interview with The List, Dr. Dennis Gross told us, "One of the biggest mistakes people make during the winter is skipping sunscreen because they don't think it's necessary if it's cold and cloudy and they're spending more time indoors."

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Board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, agreed, telling Real Simple: "Even incidental sunlight exposure adds up over a lifetime." Zeichner added that although the sun is weaker in the winter, it can still cause damage. In fact, you can even get sunburnt from the UV lights reflected off the snow. Previously, Dr. Gross told us why we might be applying sunscreen wrong, and he doubled down on why it shouldn't ever be skipped.

As Dr. Gross explained, "UVA rays (the ones responsible for accelerating skin aging and wrinkling) are a threat year-round. These rays can penetrate through clouds and glass, so you can still get sun damage even if you're indoors." Likewise, UVB rays, which can cause skin cancer, are stronger when reflected off the snow. Thus, "It's crucial to wear a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher year-round to protect yourself from premature aging and skin cancer."

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The best winter sunscreens recommended by dermatologists

According to dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, sunscreen is important all year round. His own Dr. Dennis Gross All-Physical Lightweight Wrinkle Defence Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 is a good choice to protect yourself from the sun's damaging effects, including premature aging and skin cancer. This mineral-based, oil-free sunscreen is rich in antioxidants to prevent and address destruction caused by the sun as well as the blue light emitted from devices.

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Elsewhere, Supergoop reigns supreme when it comes to sunscreen. Try this gem if your skin feels extra dry in the winter and is thirsty for more hydration, but normal sunscreens feel too dry. As board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elyse Love told Vogue: "The Supergoop! Daily Dose Hydra-Ceramide Boost + SPF contains skin barrier supporting ceramides to soothe skin, provide extra moisture, and SPF 40." 

She added, "The formula is a great add-on for sensitive skin in the winter and also happens to contain SPF." Likewise, you can apply it over your regular winter moisturizer because it's an oil. Dermatologist Dr. Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, meanwhile, loves CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30, especially for those with dry skin. As she informed Women's Health, "For winter months, I opt for a hydrating sunscreen containing ceramides like this one," which help the skin to retain its moisture.

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