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These are the musings of a skincare junkie + writer + brand guru with 25+ years of product wisdom put into action to demystify skin care. 

You can change your skin’s destiny.™


I hate the cold.

In fact I hate the cold so much that it baffles me when people say they love winter weather. The only thing I find tolerable about winter is the first snow. That’s always quaint. But it’s all downhill from there. When I was a kid growing up in central Connecticut, I actually remember this one particular day standing out in the cold in the dead of winter — waiting for the school bus. I must have been ten, twelve years old. I was in my Two Guys puffy coat, knit hat, scarf, and mittens. It wasn’t enough. There was no escaping hell. And the bus was running late, of all days. I started chanting to myself to kill time and give myself hope it would all end one day…

“When I turn 18, I’m moving to California. When I turn 18, I’m moving to California. When I turn 18, I’m moving to California.”

We were so proud of that snowman as this pic graced the front page of The Cheshire Herald. From left to right: me, my brother Dominic, and our besties Heidi and Susan.

We were so proud of that snowman as this pic graced the front page of The Cheshire Herald. From left to right: me, my brother Dominic, and our besties Heidi and Susan.

And I did just that. Actually, I took a detour to college in Massachusetts to get a degree in English first. But right after, at 22, I fulfilled that longing from deep in the recesses of my frozen soul. I packed my stuff and set out for my first great adventure in that warm and smoggy paradise, Los Angeles.

That lasted 15 years. In 2002, I found myself back in New York City in the winter freeze. Just last week, I was standing by the Hudson River in the bone-chilling cold, exacerbated by the winds blowing off the water. There I stood, in my puffy coat, hoodie, and fingerless gloves. (I try to be hip now!) There was no chanting this time. I had my AirPods in, moving briskly to the hip hop artist 6LACK belting out East Atlanta Love Letter. I figured if I moved to the music, I’d keep the blood flowing and I wouldn’t pass out and freeze to death.

The one glaring difference all these years later is I was actually worried about the toll the cold was taking on my skin. Back at the bus stop at 10 years old, I had more collagen and elastin plumping up my skin than I knew what to do with. (Yeah, I didn’t even know I had collagen in my skin back then.) Today, if clinical studies are true, I’m likely to have 40% less — or more.

According to Scientific American,
After the age of 20, a person produces about 1 percent less collagen in the skin each year. As a result, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile with age. There is also diminished functioning of the sweat and oil glands, less elastin production, and less GAG formation.

During winter, skin loses moisture much more quickly as the cold, dry air around us sucks the water and oil out of our skin, layer by layer. As we age, the skin barrier thins and the moisture loss is more extreme. (If you aren’t in the habit of using sunscreen, it’s thinning even faster than it should.) That’s why dry skin is more of a concern as you get older.

So, with dry skin on my mind, and winter upon us, I thought it would be a great idea to pull together three moisturizers that I think are both well-formulated and great for dry skin!

Presenting my three top facial moisturizers for winter weather — from most moisturizing or richest to the least.


SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

The SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 is bomb. It feels really substantive, rich and nourishing right out of the jar. The densest of the three, it’s classified as an anti-aging cream and is made with what SkinCeuticals calls “a maximized concentration of lipids.” Lipids are naturally occurring in the skin and are a component of cell membranes. I’ve said this often, but it bears repeating: skin-identical ingredients that are already found in skin are most effective as the body recognizes them as familiar, allowing them to do what they can to improve skin health. Amino Acids and other proteins, including peptides and collagen, are among the most beneficial. Bio-mimetic squalane, which is similar to the squalene found in skin is one of the best ingredients you can apply to your skin.

Lipids are a classification of ingredients that includes fatty acids, oils, waxes and triglycerides — and are a source of stored energy. Among the lipids in the Triple Lipid Restore formula is a complex of 2% pure ceramides, 4% natural cholesterol, and 2% fatty acids — 2:4:2!

This cream feels like a shot of emergency condensed replenishment for dry skin! Like if you were rushed to the hospital for treatment of over-dry skin after standing out in the cold wind by the Hudson, they’d give you a jar of 2:4:2 and send you home. While it’s replenishing and restoring diminished skin lipids, it’s also helping to improve texture and even treats hollowing, or the loss of firmness common in more mature skin. One of the quirkier claims that SkinCeuticals makes about their popular cream is that it “shortens the adjustment period to retinoids up to 1 week while reducing dryness.” That’s the reminder that this is a dermatologist brand, the leading skin care found in dermatologist’s offices.

While Triple Lipid Restore is rich, it absorbs relatively quickly, which may be an indication that my skin really needed the replenishment. If you’re dry, very dry, or extremely dry, all year-round or just in winter, check it out.

LANEIGE Water Bank Moisture Cream

Next in line is the LANEIGE Water Bank Moisture Cream. If you’re familiar with the LANEIGE Water Bank Gel Cream, this one is its more serious older sister. While the gel cream is ideal for oily or normal to oily skin types — and particularly appealing in summer — the Water Bank Moisture Cream is formulated for normal and dry skins, and a cold weather comforter. As with all of the brand’s formulas, this one features a unique type of water, in this case LANEIGE’s patented Hydro Ionized Mineral Water, a concentration of skin-compatible (again!) minerals including zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and sodium. When minerals are absorbed into the skin, they’re immediately recognized and help to disperse water-based hydration more evenly in the deeper skin layers — keeping the skin uniformly healthy.

“Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium.”

LANEIGE describes this as “richly-texturized,” but it’s not as richly textured as the SkinCeuticals formula. I love the texture of this, though. It’s silky and disperses easily on skin.

It’s also got a very high level of Squalane, which makes me smile from ear to ear. Glycerin, too! Glycerin must be the most unsexy ingredient ever. It’s been in skin care for generations. The humectant is present in all natural lipids, both animal or vegetable. Are you seeing a dry-skin trend here? Glycerin is super replenishing and has near unmatched benefits to the skin. According to Paula Begoun, the skincare OG, Glycerin is “one of the many substances in skin that helps maintain a healthy look and feel, defending against dryness and working to maintain skin’s moisture level. Essentially, glycerin is a master at hydration, and works best when combined with other replenishing and emollient ingredients.”

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

And that brings me to Drunk Elephant. The Protini Polypeptide Cream is perhaps the lightest of the three — certainly when applied as it breaks into a watery texture. It’s packed with skin-compatible, fortifying proteins in the form of peptides and amino acids. (See the importance of skin-compatibility above!) Skin loves both. And while peptide molecules are generally too large to penetrate the skin layers very deeply (if at all!), amino acids can and do. I counted 10 amino acids in this lightweight cream. In addition, Protini contains several nourishing, non-fragrant plant oils including the brand’s beloved Marula Oil, fermented Soybean, and two Olive Oil derivatives — which I assume dials down the greasiness of pure olive oil on its own and keeps the formula from being too heavy. In fact, it’s rather light for such an effective cream.

One of the most important things of all here is the wisdom of brand founder Tiffany Masterson to always deliver her skin care in a sealed, airless package. As with fermentation, skincare formulas break down when exposed to air and light. As a rule, you should use up any product that’s housed in an open jar within 30 days — including the two previous moisturizers! After a month or so, any antioxidants or other sensitive active ingredients will have degraded and their efficacy diminished, if not wiped out completely.

None of these three moisturizers is delivering an antioxidant benefit so that’s not necessarily an issue here. I prefer to infuse my skin with antioxidant protection through dedicated antioxidant serums, rather than through a complex moisturizer. They’re just not effective delivery systems for high levels of antioxidants.

If your skin is dry and battered by the cold, now is the time to switch it up. Skin needs something else right now. Like a warm alpaca wool blanket, these three winter skin moisturizers are “cold comfort”!


📺 Watch my video review of my 3 top facial moisturizers for winter weather on my YouTube channel here. (Oh, and please subscribe!) 🙋‍♂️🙋‍♀️

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The Ingredient List of the SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2:

aqua/water/eau, dimethicone, hydrogenated polyisobutene, glycerin, cholesterol, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, ceramide 3, helianthus annuus seed oil unsaponifiables/sunflower seed oil unsaponifiables, bis-peg-18 methyl ether dimethyl silane, sodium polyacrylate, peg-10 dimethicone, nylon-12, lauryl peg-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, dimethicone/peg-10/15 crosspolymer, phenoxyethanol, disteardimonium hectorite, hydroxyethylpiperazine ethane sulfonic acid, ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate, chlorphenesin, caprylyl glycol, peg/ppg-18/18 dimethicone, propylene carbonate, disodium edta, acrylonitrile/methyl methacrylate/vinylidene chloride copolymer, adenosine, dipropylene glycol, lavandula angustifolia oil/lavender oil, rosmarinus officinalis leaf oil/rosemary leaf oil, t-butyl alcohol, mentha piperita oil/peppermint oil, sodium citrate, linalool, isobutane, ceramide eop, bht, tocopherol, limonene, d182888/1.

The Ingredient List of the LANEIGE Water Bank Moisture Cream:

Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Squalane, Dimethicone, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, BIS-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Dicaprylyl Ether, Cyclopentasiloxane, Sucrose Polystearate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glyceryl Stearate, Urea, Chenopodium Quinoa Seed Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Magnesium Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Copper Tripeptide-1, Ceramide 3, Phytosphingosine, Niacinamide, Myristyl Myristate, Glyceryl Undecylenate, Acetyl Glucosamine, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Tocopherol, Propanediol, Stearic Acid, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Trisiloxane, Palmitic Acid, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Propylene Glycol, PEG-100 Stearate, Acrylates / C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate / Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Tromethamine, Disodium EDTA, Glyceryl Caprylate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance.

The Ingredient List of the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream:

Water, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil, Bacillus/Soybean/ Folic Acid Ferment Extract, Nymphaea Alba Root Extract, sh-Oligopeptide-1, sh-Oligopeptide-2, sh-Polypeptide-1, sh-Polypeptide-9, sh-Polypeptide-11, Copper Palmitoyl Heptapeptide-14, Heptapeptide-15 Palmitate, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, Alanine, Arginine, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Valine, Acetyl Glutamine, Coconut Alkanes
, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Aspartic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Lecithin, Butylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Sodium Lactate, Sodium PCA, PCA, Sorbitan Isostearate, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 60, Lactic Acid/Glycolic Acid Copolymer, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Xanthan Gum, Isomalt, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Sodium Benzoate, Phenylpropanol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Symphytum Officinale Callus Culture Extract.