Updated 09/07/21. A change in season typically means a change in the way the skin behaves. Take the transition from summer to fall, for instance. Conditions like dryness, pigmentation, and a general lackluster complexion are all common during this time. Breakouts are too. Although it might seem counterintuitive, breakouts can actually increase during the fall season. This is for two reasons. The first is that oil flow is still increased from summer. The second is that the cool fall air creates a layer of dead skin buildup. The combination of these things traps oil and bacteria beneath the skin’s surface, causing pesky breakouts to appear.
No matter which post-summer skin concern you’re dealing with, you should know something. That is, you don’t have to completely overhaul your current skincare routine in order to address it. You just need to make some minor adjustments to ensure your skin stays healthy and balanced during this seasonal change. Keep reading to learn 8 fall skincare tips to make the seasonal transition flawless for you and your skin.
1. Switch Up Your Cleanser
Changing your cleanser is always my first recommendation when it comes to creating an effective fall skincare routine. You see, in the summer, certain gel/foaming cleansers are great for using both morning and night. However, these cleansers may be too harsh once temperatures drop and less oil is being produced. This is especially true if you’re a skin type #7, #8, or #9 since these skin types are particularly prone to dryness and flakiness. (If you don’t know your skin type, take the skin type quiz to find out.)
A good rule of thumb is to use a sulfate-free cleanser that barely lathers when it’s being used (the smaller the bubbles, the gentler it will be). You can also use a cream-based cleansing lotion like the Renée Rouleau Vitamin-Infused Cleansing Emulsion. I recommend using it at night to remove dirt, sunscreen, and makeup from the skin. If you prefer the texture and cleansing experience you get from a gel cleanser, reach for the Renée Rouleau Moisture Protecting Cleanser. It’s pH-balanced and has a unique gel-to-milk formula.
2. Boost Hydration Through the Use of a Toner
So many people overlook the use of toner. They think toners are simply not necessary, believing they don’t provide any real benefits to the skin, when, in reality, they provide 5 important benefits to the skin. If you’re not already using one, fall is a great time to start. That’s because the air is getting cooler but it’s not very dry yet, so your skin is likely in need of extra hydration. Using a toner is the perfect way to give your skin that extra hydration.
Start by cleansing your skin. Then, immediately follow up by wiping an alcohol-free toner over your skin (you only have 60 seconds to apply your next product after cleansing before water loss occurs, which is why it’s important to complete this step quickly. I call this the Golden Minute). Once you’ve applied your toner, leave it damp on your skin and apply your next product, whether that’s a serum or moisturizer, to seal in the hydration and active ingredients.
3. Start Using a Heavier Moisturizer
A lightweight moisturizer is enough for most skin types throughout the summer. However, when the weather begins to change, and temperatures drop, consider using something a little heavier to prevent moisture loss. If you’re using a gel moisturizer, consider switching to a lotion, like the Renée Rouleau Skin Recovery Lotion. If you’re already using a lotion, consider switching to a slightly more hydrating lotion like the Renée Rouleau Sheer Moisture Lotion. Finally, if you’re already using a cream, consider switching to something with a thicker consistency and ingredients like ceramides or lipid-rich oils. For that, I recommend the Renée Rouleau Glow Enhancing Creme.
Even people who have breakout-prone skin need to ensure their skin is adequately moisturized. One study found that people with breakout-prone skin had reduced levels of lipids in their skin compared to people who didn’t experience breakouts. Reduced lipids can lead to increased water loss and a compromised moisture barrier. (Learn how to fix a damaged moisture barrier.)
Another option is to use face oil (like the Renée Rouleau Pro Remedy Oil). The benefit of this is that you can 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’re feeling drier than normal. When you’re not feeling dry, don’t use it! It’s that simple. Just make sure you’re using facial oil the right way. I often see people use it incorrectly.
4. Continue to Protect Your Skin With SPF
The next fall skincare tip may come as a surprise, but fall is a season during which a tremendous amount of UV damage is incurred. We often think that when the temperatures are dropping, the sun isn’t as harmful, but this is false. While UVB rays (the ones responsible for suntans and sunburns) are not as strong, UVA rays (the ones responsible for skin cancer and premature skin aging) are just as strong as they are in the summer months. That explains why sun protection is a year-round job, so be sure to apply sunscreen to your face, neck, and any exposed chest area every single day, rain or shine!
5. Reincorporate Retinol Into Your Routine
I recommend using retinol all year round if you can (you can read what that is, here). However, if you took a break from it during the summer, it’s time to reincorporate it into your skincare routine. Whether it’s non-prescription retinol or a prescription retinoid, it can help reduce the appearance of brown spots caused by the summer sun, as well as lines and wrinkles. I personally use this retinol serum faithfully. Before you start using retinol, read my beginners’ guide in order to prevent dry, flaky side effects.
6. Exfoliate to Remove Unwanted Pigment
Certain skin types are prone to increased sensitivity in the summer from heat, chlorine, and sun exposure. These skin types should exfoliate minimally during this time to help avoid unwanted irritation. Come fall, however, exfoliation is imperative to brighten the complexion and help reduce the appearance of discoloration brought out by the summer sun and heat.
I like using an at-home exfoliating peel and a well-formulated facial scrub. The latter is the most important. While the exfoliating acids in an at-home peel can dissolve and digest discolored cells, it’s the lifting action of a facial scrub that really works to help the skin appear more even in tone (learn more about the benefits of using a facial scrub).
There’s one more thing I want to mention. Exfoliating is essential for helping to reduce breakout activity. It does so by removing dead skin cells that trap oil. It can also encourage cellular turnover, replacing dull, tired-looking cells with fresher, plumper ones.
7. Switch Up the Type of Face Mask You Use
Water-based gel masks hydrate the skin, which means they’re best for oily, breakout-prone skin types that are in need of water but no additional oil. Also, because of their naturally cool temperature, they’re ideal for soothing sensitivity and redness. When it comes to a fall skincare routine, though, consider switching to a cream mask if you experience dryness. These types of masks contain moisturizing oils that can plump up normal to dry skin types. The Pure Radiance Creme Masque is a great choice. It contains lipid-rich oils that replicate the skin’s natural internal moisturizers, which can help improve elasticity.
8. Listen to Your Skin
Regardless of the season, the skin (like the body) is constantly adapting to internal and external changes. It’s important to be attentive to your skin, so you can recognize when it’s not getting what it needs. Tightness, dryness, increased breakout activity, and sensitivity are all signs that your current skincare routine isn’t working and a change is in order. You always want to work with Mother Nature and never against her. So, when skin problems arise, make sure you’re using products that are formulated to address your specific needs! You can always schedule a consultation with a trusted skincare professional for guidance.
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.”