Are Water-Based Serums For Your Face Freezing Your Skin?

Are Water-Based Serums For Your Face Freezing Your Skin?

Are Water-Based Serums For Your Face Freezing Your Skin?

By Jessica L. Yarbrough

If you’re one of the approximately 1.5 million people who follows Eva Chen, former fashion editor and current head of fashion at Instagram, or Joanna Czech, aesthetician to the stars (including Chen), you may have noticed something scary in your IG Story feed last week. During an appointment with Chen, Czech answered questions from the icon’s Instagram followers and dropped a piece of knowledge that left skincare enthusiasts confused and, frankly, a little panic-stricken: Apparently, water-based serums for your face can freeze your skin if used in extra-cold temperatures — which then expands your pores and possibly burstsyour capillaries. (Is anyone else fiendishly checking the ingredient labels of their go-to serums right about now?)

Considering that the entire country is in the middle of a record-breaking cold wave, I decided to do some digging. After consulting a cosmetic chemist, a dermatologist, and an aesthetician, I got the cold (but not-so-hard) truth. “Water serves as delivery vehicle for the ingredients that are in the serum and once you apply the serum, the water evaporates, leaving the other ingredients on the skin to do their job,” Ron Robinson, a cosmetic chemist and the founder of, tells The Zoe Report. “Since the water evaporates, there is no risk of freezing or expanding.” Phew.

“Less humidity and colder temperatures can make the skin drier,” Dr. Palm says. “For this reason, dermatologists may recommend switching patients to heavier creams and moisturizers during colder weather, in order to preserve the skin barrier and decrease skin irritation due to the elements.”

“Oil-based products create a protective lipid layer,” Czech explains, referencing the high antioxidant and fatty acid content found in most face oils. But you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy a whole new skincare regimen. “You can also mix a few drops of an oil-based product into your water based-moisturizer, or top your moisturizer with an oil,” the aesthetician (who also works with Busy Phillips and Hannah Bronfman) tells TZR.

Besides a layer of lipids, winter skin will also do well with an extra layer of sunscreen. “When spending time on snow or ice, don’t forget that the sun is very strong as it bounces off of those surfaces and can burn your skin,” Czech says. She also recommends stocking up on lip balm and hand cream for the remainder of the season, saying these areas can get “quite chapped.”

Stay warm out there, skincare lovers.