When I returned to the arctic north after migrating to Florida for the holidays, my skin underwent a metamorphosis. More accurately, it staged a rebellion. Abandoning the healthy glow of my Florida sojourn, my oil glands seemingly came to a full stop and flakes sprouted around my nose and lips. My complexion dressed in drab. A grim memento of fun times, smile lines became etched around my eyes. Something in my skincare regime needed to change, and fast.

My skin is deceptively dry for a late-20-something. Though people always tell me I look young for my age, my skin is seeing to it that my age is catching up with me. Wrinkles and imperfections are accentuated on dry skin because a lack of natural hyaluronic acid makes the surface appear less smooth. Well-hydrated skin looks fresh, pure, and dewy. I’ve come to accept the fact that I can only get that look artificially - through balms, creams, lotions, oils, and potions. To help my skin adapt to the change in climate that accompanies winter, I have switched to products that contain antioxidant-rich, moisture-replenishing compounds by night, and sun-shielding collagen boosters by day.

The newest addition to my dry skin arsenal is Collective Wellbeing’s Night Balm. After testing samples of the brand’s Weightless Day Cream and Night Quenching Cream, it was brought to my attention that neither of those products are intended for seriously dry skin types. With their hearty helpings of antioxidants and botanicals, both creams are ideal for summertime. But when winter’s chill transforms my skin from combination to super dry, I need to whip out the big guns. Collective Wellbeing’s Night Balm has become my skin’s Super Soaker. Even though it’s intended for night use, I spread the lightweight balm over my parched face both morning and night to instantly hydrate, seal up expression lines, and smooth skin tone. It is especially effective around my eye area.

With a base of shea butter, this skin quencher doesn’t mess around with worthless fillers like water. Instead, it draws on nourishing natural emollients like pomegranate seed oil and organic sunflower seed oil. It also makes use of synthetic skin conditioners like dimethicone and cyclopentasiloxane. These silicones give the Night Balm a slippery feeling, making it form a protective barrier and fill in fine lines. The formula gets anti-aging benefits from antioxidants in various botanicals like sea kelp and from innovative ceramides. Essential for barrier function, ceramides are cell-regulating mediators that help keep skin soft. One ceramide derivative in particular, salicyloyl phytosphingosne helps reduce surface roughness and uneven texture. A 2007 study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science showed that this active bio-compound has anti-wrinkle effects similar to retinoic acid treatment.

For daytime, I am hyper-vigilant about broad-spectrum protection from the sun, the number one wrinkle culprit. Exposure to UVA and UVB rays cause the collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis to break down, reducing skin’s ability to snap back from smile grooves. I keep returning to Neocutis Journee Biorestorative Day Cream for its immediate and long-term benefits. This tinted moisturizer leaves a non-greasy, non-pasty layer of SPF 30 without looking or smelling like sunscreen. It provides lightweight hydration that settles perfectly over a more intense moisturizer like Collective Wellbeing’s Night Balm or a wrinkle-erasing product like Beautisol’s 99% Pure Peptide Serum.

On top of green tea extract, vitamin C, and vitamin E, Journee’s star ingredient - processed skin cell proteins - replenish the natural proteins and growth agents that diminish with age. An article in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology described a study in which 83% of participants saw an improved average wrinkle score in the eye area, suggesting that it effectively stimulated collagen production. I can’t say for sure that it has smoothed my newborn wrinkles since I haven’t applied Neocutis consistently for the study’s full 60 days, but I do see an improvement in skin tone. Some sunscreens touting zinc oxide worsen dryness, since zinc oxide leads to water loss in skin, as described in a Skin Research & Technology study. But Journee (with its 7.3% zinc oxide content) somehow doesn’t dry out my skin, or irritate it as happened to Marta with Neocutis Bio-Cream. Of course, I try not to think about the cream’s trifecta of parabens coupled with phenoxyethanol, or all those fetal skin cells. But I like what I see in the mirror even if the formula has its flaws.

As important as the face moisturizer that I rely on to cure my dry skin day and night, I’ve learned that what I don’t do can make a big difference in how my skin responds to the elements. Unless I use the creamiest of cleansers, my face feels extremely tight and uncomfortable after washing. I try to resist the urge to wash my face in the morning, since the majority of the prior night’s product has long been absorbed. Cleansing can remove protective natural oils, and cleansing with hot water is a death sentence for dry skin. Though I typically wrap up my morning routine with a blot of powder to subdue shine, my final step now ends with a layer of sunscreen and a touch of bronzer. In the winter I steer clear of mineral powders, which tend to absorb oils and exacerbate flaking. Since taking these precautions and incorporating winter-ready products, my skin no longer resembles a dried-out shell of itself in better times.

Ingredients in Collective Wellbeing Night Balm:
Shea Butter, Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cyclopentasiloxane, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Certified Organic Sunflower Seed Oil, Certified Organic Extracts of Marshmallow Root, Comfrey Root, Cornflower Root, Licorice, Corn Silk, Sea Kelp, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosne, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum, Nylon-12, Lavender, Lavandin Essential Oils.

Ingredients in Neocutis Journee Biorestorative Day Cream:
Active Ingredients : Octinoxate 7.5%, Zinc Oxide 7.3%
Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated C6014 Olefin Polymers, Hexyldecanol, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Camelia Sinensis Extract, Silica, Cutaneous Lysate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Squalane, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Steareth-21, Melanin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polysorbate 60, Triethoxycaprylsilane, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben.