If you feel like your skin tends to become temperamental when the seasons change from summer to fall, it's not in your head. "You're left with layers of dead cell build up, which can trigger oil activity," says dermatologist Patricia Wexler. "On top of that, your skin is now requiring additional hydration." Evolutionary factors can also cause an influx in breakouts, adds dermatologist Francesca Fusco, who explains that hair sheds more in August and September, which makes some women wash their hair less, promoting breakouts around the hairline. The tendency to eat more high-glycemic, refined carbs when it becomes colder outside can also be a culprit in upsetting the balance of your complexion. What to do about it? Here, we share our best tips for seamlessly transitioning your skincare routine.
Switch up your habits.
Start by changing your lifestyle habits. Everyone can benefit from using a humidifier, the most effective way to prevent moisture loss, Fusco says. And while you're at it, speed up and cool down your showers, because long, hot showers can quickly dry out the skin. If you can't resist a relaxing, hot bath from time to time, Fusco recommends using a product like Ahava Natural Dead Sea Salt Bath, which promotes hydration. Apply lotion immediately after, when your skin is still damp. Switching from cotton to silk pillowcases can also help prevent moisture, as well as your hydrating serums and night creams, from being absorbed by your pillowcase.
It's time to change to a gentler skincare regimen that will hydrate without clogging your pores. If you have oily skin, look for products with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, hydroxy acids, ceramides, lactic acids, urea, and botanical extracts for hydration and exfoliation, Wexler says. Instead of gel and foaming cleansers that you used during the summer, try a sulfate-free cleanser in the morning—Wexler likes Jan Marini Bioglycolic Oily Skin Cleansing Gel—and in the evening, a lightweight, lotion cleanser like CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, which will dissolve makeup and dirt.
Remember to exfoliate.
Exfoliation is important year-round, but especially after spending time in the summer sun, Wexler says. "To do this without irritating your skin, look for a formula that's labeled as gentle, which means a cleanser that has tiny microparticles and can be used gently without tearing at the skin," Fusco says. "My current favorite is FAB Skin Polish." Oily skin can also benefit from prepping with a clay mask or scrub once or twice per week, which helps eliminate oil and dirt from pores.
Try an oil-free lotion.
If you are using a gel moisturizer, Wexler recommends switching to an oil-free lotion such as Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Combination Skin, or if needed, a ceramide-rich lotion or cream like SkinCeuticals Renew Overnight Oily, which contains fruit acids to botanical acids to hydrate and decongest.
Adjust for the sun.
Regardless of skin type, sunscreen is also necessary 365 days a year. UVB rays may become weaker, but UVA rays are just as strong, Wexler says, so use a broad-spectrum, non-comedogenic block, like Dermalogica Oil-Free Matte SPF 30. If you stopped using retinol over the summer (it makes skin more sensitive to the sun), reintroduce it into your regimen in the evenings to help reduce brown spots caused by sun rays and prevent blemishes. Try Differin Gel, which is available over the counter. Before bed, add an antioxidant night serum that will promote radiant, hydrated skin as the last layer of your regimen, like Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins Mineral-Enriched Oil-Free Renewal Cream, which contains vitamins C, E, and H.
Avoid moisture loss.
If you have dry skin, look for products with glycerin, ceramides, cholesterol, and stearic acid to help bind moisture to the skin and prevent water loss, Wexler says, and recommends Neutrogena Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, Creamy Formula, along with Aveeno Positively Nourishing 24-Hour Hydrating Whipped Souffle. It's enriched with super moisturizing cocoa butter and Shea butter, and contains colloidal oatmeal—an awesome ingredient to soothe irritation. Alternatively, you can also try Drunk Elephant Retro Whipped Cream, which combines antioxidants with a blend of six African oils, making it really hydrating and glow-getting.
Get the right retinol.
Even though retinol can be irritating, dry skin can also benefit from it to reverse photodamage, prevent free-radical damage, and diminish wrinkles. If your skin is super sensitive, Fusco recommends Skin Better's Alpha Retinol, which contains gentle lactic acid. "It's one retinol I've found to be well-tolerated by all skin types," she says. If you're new to retinol, start using it every other night until your skin acclimates. For extra dry, sensitive skin, hydrating masks with hyaluronic acid and botanicals are great to calm redness and boost moisture, Wexler says. Try Sephora Collection Lotus Face Mask.
Remember to repair.
Finish with a good barrier repair, like SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, which contains five different types of hyaluronic acid (and hyaluronic acid holds 1,000 times its weight in water, so you do the math). Another great option is CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream: "It has it all—hyaluronic acid, ceramides, peptides, and niacinamide," Wexler says.