Updated 9/12/18. A change of season typically means a change in the way skin behaves. This can often result in dryness, breakouts, and a general lackluster appearance. Although it may seem counterintuitive, breakouts can actually increase during the fall season. Why? 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, skin may start to require more hydration.
You don’t need to overhaul your skincare routine entirely, but you do need to make some minor tweaks to your regimen to ensure that skin stays healthy during this seasonal change. Make the transition from summer to fall flawlessly with my expert tips:
TIP #1: Change your cleansing routine.
During the summer months, gel and foaming cleansers are great for deep cleaning morning and night; however, these may be a bit drying once temperatures cool and less oil is being produced. A good rule of thumb is to use a non-drying, sulfate-free gel cleanser in the morning and a lightweight, lotion-based cleanser at night. The gel will offer a deep pore cleansing, while a milder cleansing lotion will more effectively dissolve makeup. 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.
TIP #2: Boost hydration.
Many people overlook toners in their skincare regimens. If you aren’t already using one, now’s the time to start. Alcohol-free toners are a perfect way to give your skin the water and hydration it so desperately needs in the fall. 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 products are 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 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 mix it with your moisturizer as needed. This allows you to custom-blend your moisturizer on days when you are feeling drier and when you’re not feeling dry, you simply don’t use it!
TIP #4: Protect with SPF.
This may come as surprise, but fall (similar to spring) 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.
TIP #5: Add retinol back to your routine.
If you took a break from retinol (vitamin A) during the summer, it’s time 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 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.
Certain skin types are prone to increased sensitivity in 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. For silky, smooth skin, a well-formulated facial scrub or an at-home exfoliating peel like Triple Berry Smoothing Peel is a must.
Exfoliating is also essential for reducing breakouts, as it removes the dead skin cells that trap oil. Regular exfoliation will help lift skin discoloration (such as sun spots and acne scars), 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 mask you use.
Water-based gel masks are best for hydrating the skin, so they are best for oily 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. 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.
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.”