A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

19 Dos and Don’ts of Fall and Winter Makeup

It's not just your fall and winter wardrobe that needs to transition for the colder weather; your makeup and skincare routine needs a refresher, too. Here are all the swaps you need to make to look beautiful all winter long.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

fall and winter makeup
Andrej Koptâkov/EyeEm/Getty Images

Time for a makeover

Cooler temperatures, less humidity, plus dry indoor air all lead up to one thing: dehydration. As in dryer flakier skin and nails that are more brittle. And just as you swap out summer’s lighter sundresses and tank tops for warm, cozy sweaters, so too should you be trading your gel moisturizer for a creamier version.

We’ve polled some of the most trusted voices in beauty to give you a complete rundown of how to effectively change your beauty routine during the colder months. Read on for their fall and winter makeup dos and don’ts. When you’re ready to take your makeup off, here are the most natural makeup removers you can use.

Getty Images, via Ulta.com, rd.com

Do: Waterproof your mascara


Shop Now

You may equate waterproof mascara with a swim on a hot summer’s day, but Charlie Riddle, global beauty director and head of artistry for Stila Cosmetics advises that it’s equally important come fall and winter’s rain and snow. A waterproof formula is a must when your eyes tear up from the temperature and wind chill, he shares. He likes Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara Waterproof. Don’t make these makeup mistakes that make you look sloppy.

Getty Images, via amazon.com

Do: Remember to mind your cuticles


Shop Now

When we think of winter beauty, we often neglect our cuticles, yet they take a beating during winter months when not paying attention to them can lead to painful hangnails and ruined manicures. Make it a habit to give them extra TLC when the temperatures drop. Applying a nourishing cuticle oil, such as Sally Hansen Vitamin E Nail and Cuticle Oil, will only add on a few extra seconds to your beauty routine but it will pay you tenfold. Follow these tips to help your mani last longer.

Skincare woman washing face in shower
Maridav/Getty Images

Don’t: Forget to physically exfoliate

We love light chemical exfoliation during warmer months but dropping temperatures mean that applying them to our skin can cause extreme dryness. That being said, dead skin cells need to be regularly sloughed off so that you can maintain a healthy glow. In winter, gentle physical exfoliation with a face brush or a damp washcloth is best.

cc cream
Getty Images, via amazon.com

Do: Consider swapping your foundation for a BB or CC cream


Shop Now

Winter’s dry cold air strips the skin of the moisture it desperately needs. “The last thing you want is flaky, dry skin when applying makeup,” explains Jennifer Yen, CEO and founder of Purlisse. She suggests making friends with BB and CC creams, like Purlisse Youth Glow Vitamin C CC Cream SPF 50 during the colder months. Not only do they hydrate your skin, as an added bonus, but many BB and CC cream formulas also have good-for-you ingredients like vitamin C and SPF.

African American woman applying lotion to face
JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Don’t: Be afraid of DIYing a moisturizing foundation

If you are strapped for cash or just trying to be more resourceful during the winter months this hack is for you: Instead of completely overhauling your current liquid foundation during the fall and winter months, mix a few drops of your favorite facial oil or a few pumps of moisturizer into your current liquid foundation before application. (Mix well on the back of your hand before applying.) Not only will this save you big bucks, but it will also impart a natural glow. If you like that natural look, here are 19 “no makeup” tricks you must follow.

Getty Images, via sephora.com

Do: Make sure your lipstick can last through temperature and climate changes


Shop Now

Winter months have us leaving warm indoor environments and running out to freezing temperatures, all within seconds. You need to make sure you apply a lipstick that can handle that stress. Nick Barose, Armani Beauty Artistry Collective Member, shares that when it comes to making your lipstick last, it’s all in the prepping. “If your lips are typically dry, you can use a non-sticky lip balm, like Armani Beauty Ecstasy Balm,” he says. “Use just a little and let it absorb before applying your lipstick,” he advises. Don’t miss these makeup tricks that make you look younger.

Make-up products: hand holding compact powder
Irina Marwan/Getty Images

Don’t: Use powder formulas

Even if you are methodical about moisturizing before applying color makeup or foundation, all of your efforts will go to waste if you use a powder formula. Swap your eyeshadows, blushes, and foundations for cream or liquid formulas for the colder months.

facial mist
Getty Images, via ulta.com

Do: Use a facial mist for added hydration


Shop Now

Winter months are drying for many reasons (hello indoor heating systems!) and they require an extra layer of hydration. Celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon suggests using a facial mist to refresh skin throughout the long winter days. “Think of it as a drink of water for your face! Even when misted on clean skin, you can immediately see the benefits of a juicier, plumper complexion coming through,” she says. “You can use anything from a thermal or rose water to a skin-care ingredient rich formula.” One we love is IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Setting Spray + Hydrating Mist.

Friends applying make-up together at home
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Don’t: Wear coral or pink lipstick

We all love wearing red lipstick as winter makeup, not only because it’s festive, but also because red perfectly matches your black, gray, and browns of your darker winter wardrobe. However, it’s important you stick to classic or dark reds without any coral or pink undertones. These colors signal warmer weather and will clash with your dark, winter outfits.

grey nail polish nude nail polish
iStock, via Ulta.com

Do: Paint your nails gray or nude


Shop Now

Nail polish is much more than just makeup; it’s also a great accessory. It serves to complement your jewelry, long-sleeved blouses, and coats, so make sure your nail polish is always an appropriate color. Bust out the grays, nudes, blacks, cherry reds, Merlot, and even sparkly golds and silvers. One fave is OPI Infinite Shine Long-Wear Nail Polish in Steel Waters Run Deep.

Freshly paintet red nails on an old woman
Trygve Finkelsen/Getty Images

Don’t: Paint your nails neon

As pretty as fluorescent pink looks on your fingers and toes, bright and colorful varnishes are a serious winter makeup faux pas. If your favorite color is turquoise blue, turn to navy instead. As fun as rainbow polish colors are, save them for your next beach vacation.

Getty Images, via sephora.com

Do: Apply rosy, pink blush


Shop Now

One benefit of braving the cold in winter is returning home with flushed, rosy cheeks. You can recreate this flattering look by generously swirling on pink blush. A rosy hue warms up your skin and keeps you from looking too sallow. One to try is Tower 28 Beach Please Tinted Balm Blush.

Young Latino Woman Applying Makeup
ArtistGNDphotography/Getty Images

Don’t: Continue wearing bronzer

As your tan fades with the passing of summer, it’s best to embrace paler skin and find ways to complement it, rather than try to paint on a fake, summer glow. Ditch your bronzer this fall and winter, and instead stick to pink blush. A brown contour won’t match the rest of your body, and rosy cheeks look far more endearing.

Getty Images, via sephora.com

Do: Always apply kohl eyeliner


Shop Now

For fall and winter makeup: it’s all about the kohl eyeliner. Whether you opt for a sharp cat-eye or smudgy, morning-after look, black liner is a winter staple. It looks stunningly dramatic on pale skin and pairs well with a dark, winter wardrobe. You really can’t go wrong, especially when you follow these eyeliner tips and use this goof-proof Sephora Collection Kohl Eyeliner.


Don’t: Line your eyes in purple or blue

Purple and blue liners are daring and often considered high-fashion, but they’re sadly out of place during fall and winter. If you need a colorful alternative, you can certainly play with gold liner. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to charcoal black.

bronze eyeshadow
Getty Images, via sephora.com

Do: Wear copper and bronze eye shadow


Shop Now

Gold and copper eye shadows, like the ones in the Urban Decay Naked3 Palette, are the way to go this fall and winter. These colors easily go from day to night, add a smoldering shimmer, and are conveniently festive. If you don’t feel brave enough to apply these metallic shades, deep purple, taupe, and gray are beautiful alternatives.

Colorful eyeshadows palette
Tarzhanova/Getty Images

Don’t: Give yourself rainbow-colored eyelids

It’s best to avoid any neon eye shadow palettes, as they’ll clash with your other fall makeup looks, like a vampy lip and nude polish. Before you reach for the bright pinks, greens, or blues, remember that there are darker alternatives that will give you much for fitting and enviable, smokey eyes.

moisturizing makeup
Getty Images, via sephora.com

Do: Focus on moisturizing makeup


Shop Now

As the weather gets harsher, your number-one concern should be keeping your skin hydrated. Instead of following your usual routine when applying foundation, it’s best to consider moisturizing primers, like this ILIA True Skin Radiant Priming Serum, and sunscreen (yep, you still need SPF lotion for your face in winter) at the start of your beauty routine. The last thing you want is to let your face dry out, which will result in cracking and flaking makeup. If you wear glasses, make sure you don’t make these makeup mistakes.

Makeup products to even out skin tone and complexion
pogrebkov/Getty Images

Don’t: Hold onto the same foundation

It’s a common mistake to use your favorite liquid foundation during the changing seasons, but as your skin gets a few shades lighter, do not continue applying makeup that’s too dark for you. Instead, find a matching powder or foundation, or ditch that coverage altogether. As your skin battles the elements, it’s better to focus on hydrating skincare than faking a tan.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Priscila Martinez
Priscila is a luxury, lifestyle and beauty expert covering gift guides, product reviews, trends, etiquette and other lifestyle news and features for RD.com. A graduate of Pepperdine University, she’s also mother to her furry son, Kingston.