Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

By Rae Chen, Local Contributor – Canada

Rae, the easily-distracted Canadian blogger behind theNotice: a beauty blog, is neither the brains nor the beauty of the operation. (The subjective existence of either has yet to be determined – we’ll get back to you on that one.)

She is, however, a rather relentless makeup junkie with a camera, a lack of a filter, and a writing style that’s rather more snark than sycophant.

Strange Tips for Surviving Prairie Winters

There are winter skin tips that I’m sure we’ve all heard by now: don’t shower in hot water, switch to a heavier moisturizer, make sure to exfoliate your body. But – what about all the tricks that slip through the cracks?

When you grow up on the Canadian prairies, you pick up a trick or two. Here are some of mine!

Please note: instead of featuring only Canadian products, this post focuses instead on products (some Canada-only, some not) that are great for our rather unique winters. So, no matter where you are in the world – if it’s cold, there should be something in here for you, too!

Check out the best products for a tough winter from cheeks to lips to skin!

Play the texture game


Your automatic response might be to go with stronger colors as the days get shorter (I know mine is) but consider going for sheerer formulas, too. Translucent, creamy products tend to be more forgiving on dry skin and lips, so I’ll switch to medium-sheer creams, gels, and liquids to create that dewy “glow from within.”

If you find that your cream formulas harden up in the winter, try putting them under your blow dryer for five to fifteen seconds. Don’t shy away from adding a bit of a faux-flush! Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to succumb to a ghostly pallor, right?


Clinique Butter Shine Lipstick ($18.00), MAC Lipstick ($17.50), Hard Candy Hide and
Glow Cheek ($7.00), Marcelle Cream Blusher in Raspberry ($11.50).


R-L: Clinique Butter Shine Lipstick in Cranberry Cream, MAC Lipstick in Desire (Lustre), Hard Candy Hide and
Glow Cheek in Hot Date (2 swatches), Marcelle Cream Blusher in Raspberry.


R-L: Clinique Butter Shine Lipstick in Cranberry Cream, MAC Lipstick in Desire (Lustre), Hard Candy Hide and
Glow Cheek in Hot Date (coral side).


R-L: Hard Candy Hide and Glow Cheek in Hot Date (coral side), Hard Candy Hide and Glow Cheek in Hot Date
(plum side), Marcelle Cream Blusher in Raspberry.

Light it up!


Luminizers aren’t just for the nighttime anymore – with today’s products, they’re way more wearable than they were ten years ago. If your skin’s looking rather lackluster this winter, try a highlighter on the tops of your cheekbones, under the arches of your brows, down the middle of your nose, and buffed into the high points of your forehead and chin. A general rule of thumb is that the larger the shimmer, the more obvious it’ll be – so swatch before you buy, and pick what you’re most comfortable with!

TIP: If you’re going to be photographed, make sure to “flash” your shimmer beforehand if you can. Take a quick self-photo both with and without flash, then check to see how your shimmer reads on camera. (Too little and you won’t notice it; too much and you run the risk of looking oily!) When in doubt, a less is more mentality is the best bet.

I tend to use creams for the face and pressed powders in the eye area, but again – go with whatever you’re most comfortable with. Gold and peach shimmer usually sits best on warm skin tones, while whites and silvery pinks are typically most flattering for cool skin tones.


Marcelle Multi-Colour Face Powder ($16.95), Marcelle Wet & Dry Eye Shadow ($8.95),
Benefit High Beam ($30.00; mini size shown), Annabelle Eyeshadow Trio ($7.50), MAC Cream Colour Base ($21.00)


L-R in indirect sunlight: Marcelle Multi-Colour Face Powder in Luminous Veil, Marcelle Wet and Dry Eye Shadow in Polar,
Benefit HighBeam, Annabelle Eyeshadow Trio in Creme Caramel (lightest shade only), MAC Cream Colour Base in Pearl (Frost).


L-R with flash: Marcelle Multi-Colour Face Powder in Luminous Veil,
Marcelle Wet and Dry Eye Shadow in Polar, Benefit HighBeam


L-R with flash: Benefit HighBeam, Annabelle Eyeshadow Trio in Creme Caramel (lightest shade only),
MAC Cream Colour Base in Pearl (Frost).

Keep it bronzed (but just a bit)


Okay, so: one of my pet peeves? Orange faux-bronze skin tones in the winter. It’s bad enough in the summer, but – winter! No one is naturally bronzed in the winter!

Thing is, though, I do think bronzer is worth keeping on hand after the leaves fall. It makes a great contour (if you choose a matte formula), and a light dusting of bronzer is a lovely way to pick up your skin tone. Just — make sure to use a light hand, okay? Less is more! More is not more; it’s just overdone!




MAC Golden Bronzing Powder ($27.50), Annabelle Haute Gold Zebra Bronzing Powder ($10.95),
Marcelle Tropical Bronze Bronzing Pressed Powder ($14.95)

Add another drop of moisture


I have extremely dry skin all year ’round, so to be honest, my skincare regimen doesn’t change much in the winter. If you’re finding yourself parched, though, here are a few things to try!

German Nivea is one of my all-time Holy Grail moisturizers – I wear it for both night and day, but oilier skin types may find it’s best suited as a night creme. Strangely, some London Drugs shops carry the Made-in-Germany ones, so keep an eye out if you’re in Western Canada! Non-German Nivea (typically made in Mexico or Vietnam, I believe) is easier to find, but it’s quite a bit more greasy, and doesn’t pack the same kind of moisture.

Partially because I’m silicone-free for my skincare, I’m hugely dependent on petroleum jelly and unscented mineral oil. The former is great for hydrating your lips, slathering onto your hands and feet at night, smoothing down flyaways… it’s such a multi-tasker; there’s barely anything it doesn’t do! And the latter is great for an extra layer of moisture coming out of the shower; just spray it on in the tub or rub it into your skin before moisturizing. A DIY facial spray is great to have on-hand, too; I make mine with glycerin and distilled water in about a 1:8 ratio, so I know that it’s silicone-free, paraben-free, oil-free, and completely scentless.

One last product rave: for super-dry skin, I’m a huge fan of Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk ($14.50). I literally have not bought another cleanser since trying it for the first time! The difference between a cleansing milk and a moisturizing bar or liquid is enormous; I’m so impressed with the product.

I’m done rambling about skincare now, I promise! Hope it’s not too freezing-cold wherever you are ;)

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59 thoughts on “Strange Tips for Surviving Prairie Winters

  1. Great suggestions! I’m in Montreal, which isn’t quite as harsh, but close enough! Winter tips are always much appreciated.

    • Thanks, Kate! Hope some of these work for you :)

    • Ruth

      I lived in Montreal for 30 years, moved out here to Vancouver in 2004 & I’ve also had quite a few prairie winters. All I can say is, WINTER SUCKS EVERYWHERE IN CANADA EXCEPT FOR VANCOUVER !!!!!!!!!!!! It’s so mild & my beauty routine doesn’t have to change with the seasons, yay Vancouver !!!!!!!!

  2. Hey Rae, thanks for the great post! The tips you came up with are definitely worth a try! I never knew Nivea creams are different depending on where they are produced though, and that’s pretty surprising! Hope you’re surviving the prairie winter all right. We’re having a mild one here in Europe *knocks on wood so that it doesn’t start freezing tomorrow*

    • I know; it’s crazy! I was shocked when I first found out – and thrilled when I first tried the German version. The difference is huge (and it–the German one, that is–is absolutely lovely.)

      We’re actually having a really mild winter here, too, so I’ll knock on wood with you :P I’m a little frightened of what Jan and Feb might bring, temperature-wise!)

  3. Dame Elizabeth

    Really interesting and informative tips, thanks very much!

  4. I think I own that Annabelle e/s trio. :)

  5. Julia

    Great post! I’m a huge fan of theNotice, so I love these guest posts.

  6. Chelsea

    I really like this idea of tailoring your beauty routine to a specific geographic location during a specific time of year. I wish someone would do this kind of post for So Cal winters, the Santa Ana winds are murder on my complexion.

    • Ack, I can imagine! Sorry I can’t be of more help for you, there :P

      Some of the tips might translate, though – mixing your moisturizers, for instance, and making sure to keep a good, lightweight, satin-finish one in your stash. Never underestimate the power of a good moisturizer! ;)

  7. alita

    There are some great tips in here, but I think you should really leave a disclaimer at the bottom about the petroleum jelly/mineral oil. While it works great for some people, for others (like myself) it has the potential to make my eczema-ridden skin itchier than it already is.

    • Avatar of Jolene Joli

      This!!!!! Not only that but neither petroleum jelly nor mineral oil is moisturizing. They are both barrier products. They will keep existing moisture in, but do not impart moisture of their own. If you have a lotion with petroleum or mineral oil high on the ingredients list they will prevent other moisturizers in the lotion from being efficient. they can be effective when used to keep natural moisture from the show in, but if your skin needs additional moisture post shower your better off with a product free of petroleum by products.

    • But for the rest of us, it can be a lifesaver ;) Sorry for not including ingredient disclaimers; I usually just assume that those who have uncommon sensitivities (eg. mineral oil, parabens) will already know about them!

  8. Ahh Rae, you read my mind hon. Although I steer clear of bronzers during winters, highlighters and sheer brights are my besties. I have to say, though, since moving to Van, I am not missing the prairie winters at all, no not at all :P

  9. Jamilla

    Rae, your tips are just as valid in Northern Europe!

  10. Oh, Rae, you know I love all of your tips, but those lipstick and cream blush picks?! To die for. x

  11. Tekoa

    Hello from Calgary! And thank you for posting this. Situated in the praries I think Calgary area has a unique winter weather. Chinooks anyone? It can go from -25 to above freezing in 24 hours. My poor dry lips…

    • Hello! *waves* We’re always so jealous of your chinook winds up here in Edmonton – I suppose we’d rather have fluctuations than no warmth at all!

      Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right? :P

  12. Glad to see a fellow prairie girl on the scene! I live in Saskatchewan, and I swear by that Marcelle Multi-Colour Face Powder and Bio Oil. Keep the guest posts coming!

    • MandyB

      Yay for another Saskie girl! With our mild weather earlier I was fine, but today hit and BAM my skin’s all crepey….ugh!

    • Hi, McKenzie! Great to see some more Canucks out there :) I have family in Sask., so we hear a fair number of the weather woes – and I certainly don’t envy how cold it gets there! I start whining when it hits -25, but -40?! D: I think I’d probably pack my bags and get the heck out of Dodge!

  13. Thank god I’m heading back home to Montreal next week. You got the marcelle luminizer on my radar :)

  14. amanda

    winter hasnt been bad at all here in toronto.. guess the prairies are worse.. im in a t shirt right now lol.

    • !!

      Okay, um, wow. Winter’s been really mild for us this year, but it’s definitely not t-shirt weather! More like… a tee, a sweater, and a heavy wool coat weather. (Which is pretty good! It’s usually two-sweaters-and-a-down-puffer by January :P)

  15. Avatar of Michelle Michelle

    Fantastic post, Rae! I also live in the Canadian prairies and my skin is super-dry year round, so these tips were very helpful. That Marcelle cleansing milk definitely sounds like something I have to try! And I totally agree with you about using highlighters during the winter months to give you a much needed glow. Plus, there’s less sun during the winter so your face doesn’t look like a shimmer ball when you’re outside!

    • Thanks, Michelle! I’m glad you thought the tips were helpful :)

      If I could only recommend one Canadian product to people with dry skin, that cleanser would be it. It’s that good! Hope it works as well on your skin as it does on mine x

  16. Harshleen

    Great post Rae! I have dry skin too so these tips are definitely helpful.

  17. Lyss

    As a prairie girl myself, I love this post!

    Your tip about the bronzers is a great one… definitely something I’ve learned since I started using one (not that long ago, and initially only because I’d tanned too dark for my foundation)… even now that my skin tone has more or less returned to it’s winter tone, I find that bronzer, when used lightly, just perks my complexion up and actually makes my foundation look more natural.

    • *waves* Hello, fellow prairie survivor! How are you weathering the storms this year? :P

      It’s great to hear that I’m not the only one using bronzer this winter – it’s so easy to forget all about it after September, isn’t it? (But so the extra minute in the morning!)

  18. Anne

    The DIY facial spray sounds promising. Will be trying that. Thanks!

    • Have fun with it, Anne! :) I prefer to go with a water-only base because I’m not really a fan of scented face products, but orange water and rosewater are great to include in the spray, too – try a 1:10 orange/rosewater to distilled water ratio, and increase from there.

  19. Fantastic post, Rae! I especially love the advice about going sheer rather than intense.

    I’ll be trying the Marcelle cleansing milk due to your recommendation. I love their Essentials line. And I picked up the German Nivea from my vacay so it feels like I did well. ;)

    • Ahh! I’m so proud of you, Liz :D Hope you like the cleansing milk as much as I do!! It’s not a sudden, startling difference (at least, it wasn’t for my skin), but I’m hooked. I guess it’s sort of – sort of a slow increase in moisture, if that makes sense, and then the effects are most noticeable when you try something else after.

      (Shocking and unsettling increase in dry flakes after a couple days without it. ‘sall I’m saying.)

  20. Caitlin

    Wow, really well written article! Loved the pics an swatches, too. I’m really interested in the Marcelle products. Thanks Rae!

  21. reeny

    great tips! thanks! i recently bought that marcelle face powder n i love it!

  22. aurora

    Nivea is a classic cream in Europe and worldwide. It has been here for ages and it is really wonderful. This one in the picture is a classic staple of my mother beauty regimen. She is in her seventies and has always been complimented to have a beautiful, glowing skin. The secret? This Nivea. It may be too heavy for oily skin but you can use it occasionally and it does wonders to your hands as well.

  23. Avatar of Alison Alison

    My “have not bought another cleanser since trying it for the first time” cleanser is Dermalogica Precleanse. I think you would love this, Rae, though I’d understand if you stayed with your baby – I LOVE this. Its gentle, effective, and leaves my skin feeling soft but not at all greasy or dry after each use, and I have adult-acne-prone, combination-leaning-oily, hates-most-products type skin. Love.

    I like the look of the lipsticks you swatched, by the way. Anything with the word “cranberry” in it would pique my interest, so I’ll keep them in mind.

    Visiting from TheNotice!

    • Hey, Alison! Lovely to see you here on Temptalia ;o) I’m putting the Precleanse on my “look into” list, but no promises – Marcelle and I are pretty happy together :P There are a ton of other cleansers that I’ve intended to check out, but, most of the time, it just doesn’t happen >.<

  24. Avatar of Ceri Vanessa

    Great post. I don’t have too many issues with dry skin nor do I live in Canada, but your posts are always a blast to read both on your blog and Christines. :) Just thought I’d put that out there, hehe.

  25. Lindsay

    Alberta has such wicked winters, I’ll definitely be keeping these tips on hand! thanks! :)

  26. Basil

    Wow. We’ve had it easy so far in Minnesota this year – it only got mostly cold this week – but the heaters in my life have sucked my combination sensitive skin totally dry. I’m going to check some of this stuff out! Thanks!

  27. Living in Southern Alberta can definitely take a toll on a girl in the wintertime – excellent advice, thank you!

  28. I need to find somewhere local w/ the German Nivea! I’m a sucker for anything that looks like it came from a Euro drug store:)

  29. Heather

    Where do you find German Nivea in Edmonton? I’m from Edmonton too and the only place I can think of that might have it is the Italian Centre Shop :) I would like to get some for my daughter’s dry patches, Nivea from Wal-Mart isn’t cutting it. :)
    Thanks!!

    • Heather

      I found a big metal tin of it today at London Drugs. It says manufactured by Hamberg, Germany so I hope it’s the right stuff :) Thanks for the tip!

      • Sorry for the late reply – but yes, I’ve seen it at London Drugs! (Not all of them, though – make sure to check for that “Made in Hamburg, Germany” label.) I have a stockpile that I’ve begged travelling family members to bring back from Eastern Europe, only to find that it’s now being carried in little ‘ol Edmonton >.<

  30. Great post! I am currently freezing to death in Western Canada myself. YAY for digging the car out of the snow in a skirt in heels when it’s -30!!!