Breakouts Are Most Common in the Fall—Here’s What You Can Do About Them

Renee Rouleau's AHA/BHA blemish control cleanser

Did you know that the fall is the most common time of year for breakouts to occur? It’s all due to a seasonally-induced combination of oil and dead skin cells. Here’s what happens. In the summer, oil flow increases in the skin. This continues into the fall. When temperatures drop, layers of dead cells build up on the surface of the skin. These dead cells trap oil (and bacteria) beneath the surface. The trapped oil and bacteria block oxygen from getting into the pore. From there, C. acnes bacteria thrive, and breakouts happen. (If you want to learn more about the science behind breakouts, click here).

Luckily, it’s possible to address this seasonal cycle without completely overhauling your current skincare routine. You just need to know what works (and just as importantly, what doesn’t). Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know!

7 Fall Skincare Tips for Reducing Seasonal Breakouts

1. Avoid High-Foaming Cleansers

Your cleanser is the most important product in your skincare routine. Why? Because if you use a foaming cleanser or bar soap that’s too drying, it can strip water from your skin and create dead skin cell build-up. As we now know, that build-up can trap oil and bacteria, which can lead to breakouts.

To avoid this, stay away from high-foaming cleansers that have harsh ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate. Instead, reach for sulfate-free cleansers, such as the AHA/BHA Blemish Control Cleanser, which can remove excess oil without backfiring in the way of more breakouts. As a general rule, I always say that the more lather a cleanser has, the more drying it will be, and the less lather it has, the less drying it will be.

2. Change Your Pillowcase Nightly

It might not seem like much, but regularly changing your pillowcases can make a big difference when it comes to managing breakouts. That’s because your pillowcase can collect oil and bacteria from your skin as you sleep. When you go to rest your head on that same pillowcase the very next night, you run the risk of reintroducing all of that oil and bacteria back to your skin (yikes!). I recommend investing in a nice stack of pillowcases, so you can change them out regularly. I also recommend being diligent about washing them and using a dye and fragrance-free laundry soap to do so.

3. Avoid Using Toners that Contain Alcohol

Some people like the “clean” and “tight” feeling they get from using a toner with alcohol. What you should know is that this ingredient can strip the skin of water, which can result in that dead skin cell build-up I discussed earlier. In fact, any time you try to “dry up” oily skin in this way, it can backfire. That’s why I’m not a fan of most traditional acne products. They’re simply too drying (more on that in a bit).

Alcohol-free toners are different. As I always say, skin cells are like fish in that they need water to survive, and these types of toners can deliver instant hydration to thirsty skin cells. Cleanse your skin, immediately follow up with the toner, leave it damp, and move on to your next product. Your skin will thank you for it.

By the way, every single Renée Rouleau toner is alcohol-free and there is one for every skin type. Take the Skin Type Quiz to find the right one for you.

4. Exfoliate Regularly

One of the best fall skincare tips I can give is to exfoliate regularly. This will remove dry skin cells and unclog trapped pores. I recommend using both a chemical and physical exfoliant. Chemical exfoliants, such as glycolic acid, dissolve and digest dead skin cells. Physical exfoliants, such as facial scrubs, lift them up and away.

Combining the two exfoliation methods is your best bet—not only for addressing seasonal breakouts but for addressing hyperpigmentation and texture issues too.

5. Avoid Traditional Acne Products

Remember how I said I’m not a fan of most traditional acne products? That’s because they’re formulated to “dry up” a blemish, so when they’re used all over the face, they cause dead skin cells to accumulate and trap oil and bacteria in the pores. What does this lead to? Yep, breakouts.

That’s why I recommend avoiding, or at the very least, being cautious when using these kinds of over-the-counter products. (Read more about how drying products can make breakouts worse. Then, learn how to get rid of a blemish, fast, without backfiring.

6. Sleep at Least 8 Hours Every Night

Sleep is not only important to keep dark circles at bay, but it is also the time when your body is most metabolically active, ridding itself of toxins that could otherwise wreak havoc on the skin. Sleep can also reduce stress, which is a common aggravator of acne! It’s important to get at least 8 hours of deep, restful sleep each night. Don’t underestimate it!

7. Get a Professional Facial

My last fall skincare tip for reducing seasonal breakouts is to get a facial. I recommend monthly deep pore-cleansing facials for anyone with breakout-prone skin. An esthetician can safely extract clogged pores and provide tailored chemical peels to keep the skin clear and smooth.

Lastly, I want to reiterate the importance of using the right products for your skin type. When you’re giving your skin exactly what it needs, you’re working with it, not against it.  To find out which one of the 9 skin types you fall into, take the Skin Type Quiz. At the end of it, you’ll be provided with personalized product recommendations. If you’re looking for even more guidance, schedule a virtual consultation with a Renée Rouleau esthetician.

Next, see 8 more tips for successfully transitioning your skincare routine from summer to fall.

Disclaimer: Content found on and, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.


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  1. I def got the case of breakouts this season. I’m breaking out in areas where I rarely break out as well such as my chin and my fore head, but I’m also thinking it has to do with the ashtanga yoga practice I do at the gym since they crank up the heat to 75 to 80 degrees.

    Posted By: Hanny  | 


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