There are two faces of winter: One is the rosy-cheeked flush you get after an invigorating afternoon in the chilly outdoors; the other is pale and lifeless, the unfortunate result of spending lots of time in overheated, desert-dry rooms. The cold, hard truth is that most of us fall into the latter category. "The low outdoor humidity and dry indoor heat draw moisture from our skin," says Jeannette Graf, M.D., a dermatologist in Great Neck, New York. "When skin isn't hydrated, the process of cell turnover is disrupted, allowing flakes to pile up—and skin to be robbed of its dewy sheen." Forget about trying to cover up winter-induced damage with a little extra foundation and blush. "Makeup just exacerbates the look of flaky skin because it sits on top of it, making your face appear even chalkier," says New York makeup artist Alison Raffaele. But don't give up on getting a fresh-faced glow. All you need to lift skin out of the deep freeze are a few simple tweaks to your daily facial routine, followed by some easy makeup tricks. The result? Revived radiance.
Take Exfoliation Up A Notch
To uncover healthy skin, you must buff the dry, wintry stuff away. "Removing dull cells reveals the new skin underneath, helps keep pores clear of trapped debris, and makes moisturizers and anti-aging products penetrate your skin better," explains Graf. To tackle this rougher, tougher skin, you need something strong, like a weekly at-home microdermabrasion treatment. For normal and combination skin, crushed crystal particles are a good choice because they effectively whisk away dead cells without stripping skin of protective oils. Find them in Philosophy's Microdelivery peel kit ($65; philosophy.com). If your skin is oily or acne-prone, look for products with salicylic acid to cleanse pores, too. Try DermaNew Acne & Oil clarifying system ($70; sephora.com) with a battery-operated, rotating skin-buffing head. For sensitive, easily irritated skin, choose something gentler, like the ultrafine crystals in Physicians Formula Mineral MicroDermabrasion system ($29.95; at drugstores). A caveat for all skin types: If skin is red, stinging, or burning, avoid exfoliation until the condition is resolved--it will only further irritate skin.
Add A Hydrating Mask To Your Routine
Another factor in winter skin is the seasonal dip in the production of lipids (skin oils that seal in moisture). A simple way to replenish this loss is with hydrating masks. "They contain humectants like urea and lactic acid that attract moisture as well as occlusive ingredients that seal in moisture, so skin stays dewier longer," says Elysa Ross, owner of Another Look Salon and Spa in Coral Springs, Florida. Twice a week after cleansing, apply a mask to damp skin and leave on for 10 minutes. Our picks: La Mer Radiant facial ($325; lamer.com), a two-step mask with skin-brightening white algae and cotton, a key softening ingredient, and Dior Deep HydrAction Intensive mask ($30; dior.com), which is rich in shea butter and glycerin.
Maximize Your Daily Moisturizer
Pale can be pretty, but pasty is never appealing. As tempted as you may be to go wild with your favorite self-tanner, resist the urge. "You're aiming for a sun-kissed glow, not a full-on tan, which looks so obviously unnatural in winter," says Raffaele. To the rescue: a facial moisturizer that contains small amounts of self-tanner to gradually give skin a deeper hue. "Exfoliate beforehand or any dry patches on your face will absorb more of the self-tanning pigments than other areas, leaving you splotchy," advises Raffaele. Best bet: Neutrogena Summer Glow daily moisturizer ($12; at drugstores), a lightweight lotion with SPF 15 that bestows a natural radiance on all skin tones. Another option is to apply a sheer wash of tinted moisturizer: It will conceal flaws, add a hint of brightness, and provide skin with a healthy dose of hydration. Editors' favorite: Laura Mercier Oil-Free tinted moisturizer ($40; lauramercier.com) with SPF 20; it's available in seven shades.
Mist Your Complexion
It's no wonder skin can feel two sizes too small during the winter: Humidity levels often drop as low as 10 percent during the dry season (35 to 40 percent is considered optimal for skin to stay hydrated, says Graf). One simple countermeasure is to give yourself a booster shot of hydration with a facial mister. "The best ones are formulated with ingredients that perk up your complexion but are light enough that your makeup won't be ruined, so you're safe to spray as needed throughout the day," says Graf. Try Kinerase Hydrating Antioxidant mist ($35; kinerase.com) with vitamin C, soothing aloe, and skin-plumping hyaluronic acid; and B. Kamins Bio-Maple Flower Water Treatment spray ($32; bkamins.com) with moisturizing maple extract.
Brighten Up With Gold
A quick solution for a winter-weary complexion? A little ingenious highlighting. Apply a gold-based powder with a small, flat brush (such as a lip brush): First draw a slim, subtle line down the center of your nose. Then pat gently with your fingers to blend completely. If you're fair-skinned, try Bobbi Brown Diamond Dust shadow in Gilded ($18; bobbibrown.com), a sheer shimmer. For darker complexions, CoverGirl Eye Enhancers in warm Golden Sunrise ($2.79; at drugstores) will do the trick. Next, highlight your lips by topping lip liner (the brighter the hue, the better) with gold gloss. For the most flattering effect, use a red lip pencil to fill in your entire lip; this creates a matte, stainlike base that's ideal for layering. Finish with a dab of gold gloss in the center for a fuller-mouthed effect, says Ross. Our favorite: YSL Golden gloss in Simply Gold ($25.50; ysl.com), a mango-scented metallic shine that contains flecks of 24-karat-gold powder.
Make Your Eyes Sparkle
We all crave the bright-eyed look you get from being outside on a cold day. Fake it fast with a sumptuous set of dramatic lashes. Thanks to this season's revolutionary new mascaras, no falsies are required. Just sweep two coats of mascara onto lashes, making sure to comb lashes between applications. Try Giorgio Armani Black Gem Top Coat mascara ($25; giorgioarmanibeauty.com), a rich mascara that dresses each lash with black mini crystals--like jewels for the eyes; or Tarte Glitterati ($30; tartecosmetics.com), which adds subtle silver flecks.