Preparing Your Skin for Winter: A Q&A with Etiket’s Simon Tooley

Carol and Nathalie had the great good fortune to meet Simon Tooley, owner of Etiket Boutique, at a PR event in the summer.  We knew right away that Simon would be a voice of wisdom in navigating the world of skincare, so we asked him to share his tips for preparing for and getting through winter.  Follow these tips for a winter free of dry skin and full of snowy smiles!


Before the extreme dryness of winter hits, what can we do to prepare our skin for the dry times ahead?

The best advise is to make sure that you have a skin care regimen that you are following that has been created for you and your skin care needs and goals. It sounds simple, but if our skin is healthy, any environmental changes will be felt less, and we will be able to deal with them quickly and more easily. Cleanse, tone, use the appropriate serum or treatment in the morning, followed by a sunscreen.  At night, follow the same routine and end with a moisturizer (if needed).  This will help to keep the skin in a healthy state. Once the cold hits, then specific products can be added if necessary.

What ingredients should we look for to boost moisture?  What does each ingredient do?  What should we avoid?

What we want to be doing is ensuring we keep the skin’s natural protective barrier doing what it needs to do. When our skin does not have enough ceramides, natural cholesterol, and fatty acids our skin can feel and look dry and dehydrated.


The latest product to help with lipid loss, which is often a characteristic of dry and dehydrated skin, is from SkinCeuticals and is called Lipid Restore 2:4:2.  This product is specifically for customers over the age of 50 and has the science to back up its claims of restoring moisture and overall radiance.

Antioxidants are key; they help to repair the damage of too much sun exposure and more and more from everyday pollution.  Examples of antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, Green tea extract, grape extract, resveratrol, to name a few.  One of our most popular antioxidant serums because of the results people see is CE Peptides from Vivier.

To replenish moisture, look for the ingredient hyaluronic acid.  New on the market this year is a product from SkinMedica,  HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator.



To help stop moisture loss, we have emollients. This is where face oils like shea butter, coconut oil or butter, or rose oil can help, but stay away from fragrant oils.

Of course you need a sunscreen on top of any of these products to help you protect your skin from further damage.

Avoid fragrances, artificial colours and products that contain alcohol.

What changes to their skincare routine do you recommend to your clients for winter?

If someone is prone to dry skin in the winter it can start with the cleanser, so switch to a milk cleanser that will be less drying. Depending on the toner, they may want to switch to one that is going to help hydrate the skin. Then, if they are using an anti-aging serum at night or in the morning, they may want to switch to one that includes vitamin E – more moisturizing, something they may not want in the warmer months. Finally, if they are using a moisturizer, switch from a fluid to a cream that will be richer and help the skin’s protective barrier.

Should we exfoliate more often to get rid of dry skin or less often to retain the moisture in our skin? 

Exfoliation is going to be even more drying for the skin. Our skin naturally exfoliates every night while we are sleeping. (One of the reasons it is so important to cleanse both night and morning to get rid of dead cells.) If you experience extra dry skin in the colder months, just make sure that you are following any exfoliation with a moisturizer that is going to help rebuild the barrier in your skin and help to hold in moisture. There are many different products available for exfoliation, so look for ones that are made for dry skin.

We love the Tata Harper Multi Masking Collection as it includes three different masks that help to exfoliate and moisturize. They may be used separately or apply on top of each other.


How can we treat extremely dry patches of skin on our faces?  Spot treatment or treat the whole face?

If you see dry patches, you want to understand why this is happening before treating. Is it simply that you were out on the ski slopes and didn’t protect your face and your cheeks are extra dry? If it seems to be something more than that, you may want to look at your diet, and recent changes to anything you are doing and consider seeing a dermatologist. Otherwise, there is no problem with a spot treatment of an oil or moisturizer applied directly on the affected area. Usually if this is environmental this will go away within a few days.  One of our best sellers is Regenerating Cream from Pro-Derm.




I’m a little nervous about using facial oils.   I want the extreme moisturizing but I’m worried about clogging pores.  What do we need to know for how to use them well?

There are a lot of misconceptions about facial oils. They can be good for all types of skin, but if you have combination or acne prone skin it is more about which oil you are using.  Look for non-comedogenic face oil.  Facial oils are often part of treating acne as they are a natural way to deliver fatty acids and nutrients to your skin, plus, people with acne have a low linoleic acid content in their skin which the right oil will help.

For seasonal or climate related dryness like our cold winters in Canada, a regular moisturizer may not be enough and adding a face oil to your skin care regimen will help.  You can either use the facial oil on its own or mix it into your moisturizer. It should always be applied after you cleanse and tone and before your moisturizer and SPF product.  Do not mix facial oils with an SPF product because it will dilute the protection.



Two favourites are both from Canadian natural skin card brands:  Graydon Detox and Renew Serum, and Huna Natural Apothecary Revitalize Age-Grace Face Serum.


Chapped lips are the bane of my existence October to April.  What do you recommend for keeping lips soft?  Are there ingredients to avoid? 

Those first chapped lips of the season tell us winter is on its way! The one thing that will help is regular exfoliation, something we think about for the rest of our face but not always for our lips. There are many DIY options that are easy and work (baking soda, sugar and olive oil) if you don’t want to buy a specific product. Then after exfoliation it’s applying something to treat the lips as well as to soothe them. We can get addicted to lip balms and then our lips don’t want to survive without them. I usually recommend a lip treatment that includes vitamin E that will help to heal as well as having antioxidant properties.

Ingredients to avoid are fragrances, artificial colours, menthol or camphor can be drying and of course any product with alcohol.



From our latest edition in our natural skin care section is Moisturizing Lip Butter from the Canadian brand Huna Natural Apothecary. This all natural product has everything you need.

As much as many of us hate it, we know we have to use sun protection winter and summer.  Is it safe to use a lower spf in winter?  What’s the minimum?  

Sunscreen is the best anti-age cream there is. Whenever we tell our clients that, we seem to get a much better compliance and people use it on a daily basis. For daily use, we need to use the same level of SPF during the winter as summer – we are dealing with UVA and UVB rays, and a minimum SPF 30 is what we recommend. We also recommend physical over chemical. As much as we all hate that extra step, it can be life saving. None of us take melanoma seriously enough. The key is to find a sunscreen you like and that works with your skin. Another great option for women is to add a mineral make-up on top of your sunscreen that allows keeping adequate protection throughout the day.

 Elbows, heels, and cuticles: how can we boost moisture to these problem areas in winter?

It comes down to how much love we are willing to give each of these areas.  Cuticles may be the easiest as we can apply cuticle oil specifically made to help with dryness. It also means protecting the hands from the cold and yes, wearing rubber gloves if you are doing the dishes! Applying a hand cream after will help as well. The Huna Natural Apothecary Nail and Cuticle Protect Treatment Cream moisturizes and protects.

For the elbows, I have heard of everything including rubbing bananas on them! It really comes down to being consistent and applying a good moisturizing cream – either specifically made for the body, or rich enough to have emollients such as shea butter that will help to recondition the skin. Once a week won’t do it though.  Put on the cream before you go to bed every night and you will see a difference.

The same thing applies to heels.  The shoes we wear can further aggravate this area. One of the products we have found works the best is oil – don’t worry if it says “face” – the oil doesn’t know where it is going. I like emu and/or tea tree (antibacterial) for the feet.  Massage it in and put on a pair of socks after. As a triathlete my feet can be a mess, and I have found doing this nightly makes a difference very quickly. Not so sexy, but it works!


Simon Tooley is the owner of Etiket, located on Montreal’s posh Sherbrooke Street and online here.



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