Ever noticed that your skin seems to behave differently at certain times of the year? Many people with acne-prone skin will find that their breakouts worsen in the winter months. Why? The combination of cold weather, exposure to wind, indoor heat, and low humidity can cause tiny cracks in the skin’s outer protective layer. This damage causes moisture in the skin to evaporate when exposed to air, leading to excessive dryness, redness, and inflammation. If you’re already prone to pimples, dry skin in winter can cause more breakouts.

Don’t touch your face! This is a good rule of thumb all year round but especially important if you want to prevent and get rid of pimples in the winter. It can be tempting to peel or scrub off “flakes” with fingers or exfoliating products and tools. Unfortunately—unbeknownst to many—exfoliating dry skin can cause more acne breakouts by making your skin thinner, more irritated, and more sensitive.

Instead of trying to “slough off” dry skin, focus on adding moisture back into the skin and preventing further drying. If you use a topical acne treatment cream, experiment with reducing the quantity and frequency you apply it while increasing the amount of moisturizer you use to restore a good balance of oil production.

When treating acne, you can (and should) use the same proven-effective acne-treatment ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid all year round—including the winter. The key is in formulating the products (% of active ingredients) and how they are applied to the skin. Use the logic above to prevent over-drying and consider switching to a less potent treatment cream during the winter months.