Fall’s sweater weather brings a season of comfort, but the crisp days may cause your skin to act out. With the changing seasons, you can expect your skin to transition too, and you’ll need to adjust your skin care routine accordingly.
According to the four experts we spoke with, the major thing to look out for is dry skin. “Hot showers, cold winds and blazing furnaces are the culprits behind dehydrated skin,” says celebrity esthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar. “In the fall, humidity levels tend to drop, and the winds become cool and crisp, which may lead one to experience dry, flaky and sometimes irritated skin.”
Dry skin can affect other aspects of the skin’s appearance too. Because the skin lessens its production of moisture-trapping oils, “this tends to give skin a dull, more lackluster appearance,” explains Miami-based dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta skin care, Dr. Loretta Ciraldo. “Lines and wrinkles become slightly exaggerated when skin is drier. And skin takes on a coarser, slightly rougher texture, mostly because there’s a slowdown in the rate that our skin sheds surface dead cells in cooler weather.”
In addition to seeing these changes in their clients, the experts we spoke to actively work to avoid them in their own skin as well. Across the board, they shared that the key is to apply plenty of occlusive ingredients that will help the skin retain its moisture. Think thicker face creams in place of lightweight moisturizers, giving slugging a try and not being afraid to layer on face oils. To learn more about how to keep skin happy and hydrated this season, read on to find out what changes the experts are making to their own skin care routines this fall.
“Common skin concerns that come with the fall season and its infamous drops in humidity levels and brutally cold winds are dry skin, chafing, irritation and, more commonly, a compromised skin barrier,” says Aguilar. “A compromised skin barrier can occur when the skin experiences trans epidermal water loss, exposure to harsh climates or drastic changes in the weather, as well as irritating or over-exfoliating products.” The expert focuses on adding hydrating serums and oils into her fall routine as well as supplementing her skin care with products that will help combat dehydrated skin from the inside out.
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To focus on moisture, Aguilar “plans on swapping my lightweight lotions and gel-like creams for my beautiful and rich oils, serums and creams.” She’s already started incorporating this one-ingredient face oil into her morning routine.
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Aguilar also recommends adding electrolytes to your water in the fall months. “The best way to combat tight and dehydrated skin during the fall and winter is to maintain internal hydration,” she explains. “Most of us don’t get as thirsty in cool weather, so it’s important to maintain hydration and boost your water with electrolytes.” She likes Cure’s mix-in electrolyte packets because they’re sugar-free, they’re tasty and they have “four times the amount of electrolytes found in high sugary sports drinks.”
Ciraldo prioritizes giving her skin a dose of healthy oils for the drier fall months. “I have inherited very dry skin, so I need to be sure never to miss morning or evening skin care regimens once fall sets in since I need to up my exfoliation and healthy skin oil replenishment,” Ciraldo says. “Often in summer weather I use my SPF as my only morning moisturizer, but in fall I start to layer moisturizer and then SPF.”
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“To compensate for the slower shedding of dead cells associated with seasonal change, I increase my frequency of exfoliation: I use our Dr. Loretta Micro Peel Peptide Pads Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights,” Ciraldo explains. “[Whereas] I only use these twice a week in the summertime since more frequent exfoliation can make you more sun-sensitive.”
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Instead of using only a moisturizing sunscreen during the day, Ciraldo adds in this hydrating and antioxidant-packed lightweight cream to her daytime routine in the fall.
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“I also start to use the Dr. Loretta Concentrated Firming Serum with 0.5% retinol in a base that is loaded with glyco- and phospho-lipids to replenish all the healthy skin oils that lessen in cooler weather as well as with retinol use,” Ciraldo says.
Sandra Chiu is the founder of Lanshin, a skin care brand and studio with its heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine. As an acupuncturist, herbalist and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner with over 20 years of experience, Chiu brings a holistic approach to dermatology and uses acupuncture and gua sha to treat the skin. For Chiu, the fall means a focus on keeping skin plump and hydrated. “My skin really loves the humidity of summer, when it often looks its best,” says Chiu. “By fall, I definitely lack much of that natural moisture in my skin, so I make up for it with facial hydrating mists and occlusives.”
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Adding in more oil-based products throughout your skin care routine will help you avoid stripping your skin and making it drier. “I’ll switch from gentle foaming cleansers to cleansing oils and balms to preserve my moisture better,” Chiu says. This water-free cleanser concentrate is one of her favorites.
Chiu says hydrating mists are “the most underused, and most effective skin care products for relieving dry skin.” She’s planning on using this gently exfoliating one that contains pre- and probiotics to rebalance the microbiome. “I often recommend several rounds of spraying a hydrating mist onto skin, then massaging it in,” Chiu says. “This dampens the skin and makes following up with serums, oils or creams even more effective at moisturizing the skin.”
“I also like adding a facial balm or occlusive as a final step to sealing in all that moisture once the weather gets breezy and chilly, and the heat starts drying out the air inside homes,” Chiu shares. Looking for a hydrating balm that “delivers and seals in moisture,” like this ceramide-enriched petrolatum-based one, will help defend the skin from dryness.
With the fall comes more frequent moisturization for Dr. Kautilya Shaurya of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “I usually find during this time of year that I need to moisturize at least twice a day for my body; most of the time during the summer I can get away with just once a day,” he says. The dermatologist also recommends cutting back on exfoliating ingredients like AHAs and BHAs, as well as retinol, in order to avoid overdrying your skin.
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The dermatologist is using this antioxidant serum in his own morning routine. “Amongst many of the great ingredients that it has, it includes vitamin C,” Shaurya says. “It’s also great at reducing redness, which usually worsens during the fall.”