Your skin is great—it’s soft, supple and clear. Then, out of nowhere, it becomes dry, flaky and red. What happened?

By Holly Dawsey
November 17, 2015
Credit: Getty Images

Your skin is great—it’s soft, supple and clear. Then, out of nowhere, it becomes dry, flaky and red. What happened? While you were busy swapping out your wardrobe and sipping Pumpkin Spice Lattes (hey, we're all guilty), the chillier temps started working on your skin.

“One of my biggest rules is that when the seasons change, your products should change too,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and author of Skin Rules ($12, That’s especially true when sweater-weather hits. As the temperatures drop and the humidity decreases, the air will start to strip moisture from your skin, she explains. Biting winds and dry indoor heat can attack your complexion, too.

Your best defense: Look for a rich cream with humectants, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid, to bind moisture to the skin and occlusive emollients like shea butter or petrolatum to lock it in. “This combination will protect the skin barrier, minimizing the toll the weather will take on your complexion,” Dr. Jaliman says. Find both in L’Occitane Shea Light Comforting Cream ($28;, which is lightweight enough for oily types.

How do you know when to make the switch? Other than chillier temps, Dr. Jaliman points to 7 signs your skin is craving more hydration.

Your moisturizer disappears within seconds of applying

This likely means you need more moisture than your current product is supplying. Go for a cream that leaves skin supple but not tacky.

Your face feels tight

Same goes if you start to notice any itching or a change in texture—these are all early signs of dryness.

Your skin looks lackluster or dull

When your skin is properly hydrated, light bounces off of it evenly for a more radiant, youthful appearance.

Your makeup looks like it’s going to crack

Prime skin with a rich moisturizer to prevent dreaded desert face. Amp up dewiness by applying foundation before the moisturizer fully absorbs.

Your fine lines and wrinkles look more prominent

No, you didn't age overnight. Those same humectants that bind moisture to the skin will also help plump and smooth lines and groves.

You have flakes on your cheeks, nose or chin

Exfoliate regularly before slathering on cream to keep flaky patches at bay.

Your skin becomes red or easily irritated outdoors

A balmier cream acts as a winter jacket, protecting skin from the conditions—icy winds, drippy nose—that trigger irritation and redness.