A change of season typically means a change in the way skin behaves. This can often result in any and all conditions like dryness, breakouts, and a general lackluster, pigmented appearance caused by the summer sun. Although it may seem counterintuitive, breakouts can actually increase during the fall season. Why? Increased oil flow that happens during the summer still occurs, but the cooler air also creates layers of dead skin cell buildup. This traps oil and bacteria beneath the skin’s surface, which leads to increased breakout activity. In addition, your skin may start to require more hydration.
But, here’s the thing. You don’t need to overhaul your skincare routine entirely, but you do need to make some minor adjustments to your regimen to ensure that the skin stays healthy and balanced during this seasonal change. Here’s how to transition from skincare routine from summer to fall flawlessly.
TIP #1: Change Your Cleansing Routine
During the summer months, some gel and foaming cleansers are great for deep cleaning morning and night; however, these may be a bit too much once temperatures cool and less oil is being produced—especially if you’re a skin type #7, #8 or #9 which are prone to dryness and flakiness. A good rule of thumb is to use a cleanser that is sulfate-free and barely gives a lather when it’s being used. (The smaller the bubbles, the gentler it will be.) You can also use a cleansing lotion which is cream-based. Vitamin-Infused Cleansing Emulsion is a great choice for nighttime. If you prefer a gel cleanser, Moisture Protecting Cleanser is perfectly pH-balanced. It’s a unique gel-to-milk formula that is extremely gentle.
Changing up your cleanser is always my first recommendation for modifying your routine for the cooler temperatures.
TIP #2: Boost Hydration
Many people overlook toners in their skincare regimens. If you aren’t already using one, the fall is a great time to start. The reason for this is because of the hydrating benefits that alcohol-free toners provide. Since the air is getting cooler but not yet very dry, it’s the perfect way to infuse water into the skin. Wipe an alcohol-free toner over the skin after cleansing. Immediately apply serum or moisturizer while it’s still damp to seal in the hydration and active ingredients.
Take our Skin Type Quiz to determine which toner is best suited for you.
TIP #3: Opt for a Heavier Moisturizer
A lightweight moisturizer is enough for most skin types in the summer, but when the weather begins to cool down, it is important to apply something a little heavier to prevent moisture loss. If you’re using a gel moisturizer, considering switching to a lotion like Skin Recovery Lotion. If you’re already using an oil-free lotion, consider changing to a slightly more hydrating lotion like Sheer Moisture Lotion. If you’re already using a cream, consider changing to something with a thicker consistency with ceramides or lipid-rich oils like Glow Enhancing Creme.
Another option is to use a treatment oil like Pro Remedy Oil. The benefit of using an oil is that you can simply add a few drops into the palm of your hand and pat it over your moisturizer as needed. This allows you to customize your moisturizer on days when you are feeling drier and when you’re not feeling dry, you simply don’t use it! Easy peasy. But make sure you’re using your oil correctly.
TIP #4: Protect With SPF
This may come as surprise, but fall is a season during which a tremendous amount of UV damage is incurred. We often think that when the temperatures are cooler outside, the sun isn’t as harmful, but this is false. While UVB rays (the ones responsible for suntans or sunburns) are not as strong in autumn, UVA rays (the ones that cause skin cancer and premature wrinkles) are just as strong as they are in July and August. Protection is a year-round job, so be sure to apply a sunscreen formulated for your skin type to the face, neck, and any exposed chest area.
Bottom line: Don’t let the cooler temperatures of fall make you think the sun isn’t as strong!
TIP #5: Add Retinol Back Into Your Routine
If you took a break from retinol (vitamin A) during the summer, it’s time to reincorporate it into your skincare routine. Opt for either a non-prescription retinol serum or a prescription retinoid. Either will help to dramatically reduce the appearance of brown spots caused by the summer sun, lines, and wrinkles. Hands down, retinol and prescription retinoids are the most scientifically proven ingredients for smoothing the texture of the skin and I personally use this one faithfully. Read my Beginner’s Guide to Using Retinol or Prescription Retinoids.
TIP #6: Exfoliate to Remove Unwanted Pigment From Summer
Certain skin types are prone to increased sensitivity in the summertime from heat, chlorine, and sun. These types should exfoliate minimally during this time. But come fall, exfoliation is imperative to repair and brighten the complexion and remove discoloration brought out by summer heat and sun. For silky, smooth skin, a well-formulated facial scrub or an at-home exfoliating peel like Triple Berry Smoothing Peel is a must.
But almost more importantly, is the use of a facial scrub. While exfoliating acids dissolve and digest discolored cells, it’s the lifting action of a physical facial scrub that really works the magic if your goal is to make the skin appear more even-toned. Learn all the benefits of a facial scrub.
Exfoliating is also essential for reducing breakouts, as it removes the dead skin cells that trap oil. Regular exfoliation will also remove dull, tired, dry skin and encourage fresher, plumper cells to form. This will give your skin a flawless finish. And of course, using exfoliating acid serums a few nights a week is very, very important.
TIP #7: Change the Type of Face Mask You Use
Water-based gel masks are best for hydrating the skin, so they are best for oily, breakout-prone skin types that need water but no additional oil. Also, because of their naturally cold temperatures, they’re ideal for soothing sensitive skin redness or a painful sunburn if you should happen to get one on a sunny day.
During the fall, however, consider switching to a cream mask if you experience dryness. These contain moisturizing oils that help to deeply hydrate and plump up normal to dry skin types. Pure Radiance Creme Masque is a great choice. Unlike traditional gel or clay masks, most cream masks do not need to be rinsed off after they have dried. You can simply tissue off any residue and leave the excess to give your skin a moisture boost.
TIP #8: Listen to Your Skin
Regardless of seasons, our skin, like our bodies, is constantly changing and adapting to internal and external changes. It’s important to be attentive and listen to your skin for signs that it’s not getting what it needs. Tightness, dryness, increased breakouts, and sensitivity are all signs that your current skincare routine isn’t working. A change is in order. Pay attention to what your skin is telling you. You always want to work with Mother Nature, never go against her. When skin problems arise, you must ensure that you’re using products to specifically address your skin’s needs. If necessary, take it one step further and schedule a consultation with a trusted skin-care professional. Additionally, DON’T fall for the myth that your skin can get used to products and stop working!
Seasonal changes can definitely create change in the skin. If you follow these skin tips and alter your skin-care routine, though, you can keep it looking and feeling its best.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”