3 Simple Secrets My Dermatologist Told Me About Dealing With Dry Winter Face Skin

flaky catThe last week of October was not my finest. I mean, I broke out on my right cheek– I have these three reoccurring spots that emerged out of my face like complexion boogey men hellbent on revenge. Somehow, simultaneous to this acne eruption, my face started flaking off. At first, I thought it was old product peeling off like glue on a kindergartner’s hands or donut glaze that never made it into my mouth, but no, bits of dry skin were just crumbling off of my face. I’m not sure how bad my breakout was or how gruesome those dry patches really looked because of body dysmorphia, but to me, it appeared as though I was wearing a festively slutty Freddy Krueger costume for the entire week of Halloween.

This sort of emergency called for emergency back up. This was obviously a job for my trusty dermatologist. It had been a minute since I’d seen her because the last advice she gave me was tremendously effective until last week, so I wasn’t prepared for the news the dermatology practice’s receptionist would relay to me on the phone:

“Doctor’s office, how can I help you?”


“This is Joanna Rafael. I’m a patient of Dr. Faceskin’s. I need to see her right away.”


“Dr. Faceskin moved to New Jersey.”

Then I wept and made an appointment with another dermatologist in the office. Dr. Faceskin betrayed me, abandoning me with a breakout and a broken heart.

The other doctor is fine and I’m sure I’ll get used to her soon enough. She’s not as pretty as Dr. Faceskin or as wildly understanding of my debilitating vanity; worst of all, she doesn’t laugh at my jokes, but she’s a qualified and competent medical professional. Let’s call her Dr. Notfaceskin.

At the appointment, the first order of business was dealing with my freaking acne. More like not dealing with it: this new doctor would not shoot my zits up and make them disappear. Allegedly they weren’t “that bad” and giving me shots would make craters in my face. Don’t think I didn’t beg because I did. She told me that many women get blemishes in the same spots over and over again and these weren’t even raised off of my face. She asked if I was stressed out or menstruating. I assured her that I indeed was both severely anxious and hormonal as fuck. I decided it was best to drop the acne issue and move on the second order of business, my parched skin flakes. Dr. Notfaceskin was actually very helpful in this department. She gave me three simple pieces of advice that would allegedly help calm my face down all winter.

Here are the 3 skin secrets:

  1. Stop using foaming face wash. Foaming face wash was a sometimes-treat even in sweatier/oilier times. I’ll miss how squeaky clean it made my face feel once or twice a week. Whatever, I’d rather not look like my face is covered in feathers and dust.
  2. Switch from Cetaphil to CeraVe. Before, I was using some CeraVe products and some Cetaphil products, thinking they were pretty much interchangeable. Even though Cetaphil is awesome and the Doctor could not deny it, she advised me to switch to CeraVe for the winter because it contains liposomes. I later googled liposomes to find out exactly what they are, but during the appointment I used deductive reasoning and context clues to try and understand what the doctor was saying to me. I figured liposomes were some sort of fatty (lipo-lipid) something (somes-something) and I was right. The liposomes will keep skin feeling hydrated
  3.  Use body lotion on the face. This secret freaked me out a little bit. Something heavy enough to hydrate my elbows probably shouldn’t be used on my face, right? Wrong, she said. CeraVe body lotion can be used on the face when it’s particularly dry out. It’s non-comodogenic and won’t clog pores but will provide enough moisture to keep  my face from turning into powdered sugar.

For the past few days I have been employing these methods. Despite partying all weekend long, my skin is already looking and feeling much better. Keep in mind that I have very sensitive combination skin and the doctor was specifically advising my face, though due to the simplicity of this advice it might help you if you face similar problems. You do your thing whatever it is. What do you do about your face when the weather changes? Any techniques to share?

Image via Sangudo

Share This Post:
    • Julia Sonenshein

      Doctor betrayal is the deepest betrayal.

      • Joanna Rafael

        I’m gonna sing “all by myself” at Karaoke to get through this.

    • CaitlinCorsetti

      I’ve been victimized by doctor betrayal as well. But really, CeraVe is amazing! You’ll notice a difference soon. Also, sometimes if my face gets really dry I use Aveeno’s eczema body lotion. I swear it works!

      • Joanna Rafael

        I’ll try it because I trust you not to betray me.

    • Krusticle

      I live in So Cal, no weather changes really. I got nothing.

      • Joanna Rafael

        I grew up in Southern California, it’s soo much easier to deal with skin in a more constant climate.

    • Kelly

      CeraVe is the shit.

      • Joanna Rafael

        hear hear!

    • lisaeliz

      I’ve never heard of CeraVe, will have to look for it. I’ve given up on lotions, they are all too weak, I use straight oil on my face in the winter. I can even use oil in the summer, but I really only need it on my forehead and eyebrows year round… Pure shea butter works too but it takes a minute to melt it LOL, so I usually use oil. I live in Ohio and winters can be brutal here.
      Oh – I started using Wen on my hair last fall and it absolutely did wonders. My scalp isn’t itchy and flaky anymore! It’s doesn’t have those harsh detergents in it like regular shampoo does. I’ve tried using baking soda instead of shampoo, too, which also works well and is significantly cheaper, but Wen is like using a very heavy conditioner on your scalp. Which I need. My hairdresser, who doesn’t really like Wen, is even complimenting me now on the improved condition of my hair and scalp. Hope this helps.