It's officially cold outside. (And don't even think about singing *that* song, I'm not having it.) But as you trade in your transitional trench for a heavy wool coat to keep from dying warm, it's time to think about how you're going to shield your face from winter's harsh temps. And in the spirit of not rocking a full face ski mask like a convenience store crook, I bring you: self-warming moisturizers, which are made with ingredients that insulate your skin's natural heat as you go about your cold weather business—be it hitting the slopes or Sephora. Still a relatively new concept, it's gaining more traction, due in major part to U˚Thermic, an indie brand trying to get their signature Coldscreen off the ground and onto your face. (Props to Allure for putting it on our radar.)
Basically, skin is a delicate organ and it requires an ideal temperature to work at maximum effectiveness—its primary job is to protect us by acting as a barrier to outside environmental hazards and maintaining our body temperature, says dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, M.D., at Schweiger Dermatology Group.
"When the temperature is too cold and dry, moisture is stripped from skin compromising the barrier, leaving it prone to microscopic breaks that trigger inflammation of the skin, which can feel like the classic winter itch—red, scaly, and cracked," she explains.
Self-warming products like Coldscreen can prevent the dissipation of heat by attempting to retain normally lost heat the body exudes in action. But just as importantly, they include moisturizers and skin hydrators such as jojoba oil and aloe, which are essential for maintaining the barrier and letting skin do its thing i.e. temperature regulation, moisture retention, and most importantly, protection.
Yes, a heat-activated moisture sounds like a no-brainer, but as someone with sensitive skin, I'm inherently paranoid about anything that might exacerbate sensitivity and redness. I have rosacea, which means I have firm instruction from derms to keep skin cool.
"Patients with temperature-sensitive conditions should be aware," says Nazarian. "Rosacea tends to flare when skin is too warm, and heat retention can trigger rosacea for many women. Test-driving any new product is a good idea, so apply a small amount to a discreet area and see how your skin responds. Itching, burning, or redness means the product is not for you."
Echoing Nazarian's sentiment about proceeding with caution, I do think a self-warming moisturizer is worth a try—particularly if you live in a frigid-cold climate and are constantly exposed to face-numbing temps. This said, I do think this is more of a special circumstances kind of product in that it won't be replacing my daily go-to Bioelements Crucial Moisture.
You can re-order Coldscreen on UThermic's indiegogo page, but if you're looking for something that's already on the market or self-warming skincare beyond moisturizers, check out the following:
1. Cleanser: Biore Warming Anti-Blackhead Cleanser, $7.49; walgreens.com.
This warming, clay-infused formula also works to open up pores, which helps to wash away makeup, dirt, and oils.
2. Serum: TriLASTIN-HT Hydro-Thermal Accelerator, $19; trilastin.com.
This self-warming serum is designed to help open up pores so that active ingredients are absorbed faster.
3. Mask: Somme Institute Boost Mask, $40; shop.nordstrom.com.
Consider it a 5-minute miracle—the warming mask that boosts blood circulation to nourish skin cells.
4. Body Scrub: Bliss Holt Salt Scrub, $38; blissworld.com.
Infused with eucalyptus and rosemary oils, this beloved scrub heats up so that it can exfoliate skin *gently*.
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I’m the associate web editor at Marie Claire. I love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. I firmly believe that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.
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