How to Transition Your Skin Care Routine from Summer to Fall

As summer comes to a close, you may be putting shorts and bathing suits in a box to make room for sweaters and scarves, and swapping your highlights for a more autumnal auburn. But it’s not just your wardrobe and hair color you should be changing up as the seasons change. Your skin care routine should be adapted to the seasons as well if you want the best skin possible year round.

Changing weather patterns and environmental factors call for some different habits. You don’t need to go out and buy a completely new skin care regimen, but these fall skin care tips will help keep your skin in tip top shape.

How the weather affects your skin

Drier, colder weather can easily result in dry, flakey, itchy skin since there isn’t much moisture in the air, you aren’t sweating as much and producing oil, and taking hot showers and cranking up the heater can damage the skin barrier and dry out the skin. Those with naturally dry skin will see these problems more than those with oily skin, and skin conditions like eczema flare up in the fall. Everyone reacts to shifts in weather differently, so adapt your skincare routine as you start to see changes in your skin.

Heavy moisturizer

To make up for the lack of moisture in the air and sweat on your face, swap out your lightweight summer moisturizer, and switch to a heavy cream moisturizer for fall. Try one loaded with humectant (moisture-locking) ingredients like glycerin and sodium hyaluronate. Shea butter is also a great ingredient to look out for as it not only softens the skin, but soothes and protects the skin from harsh weather conditions.

Body lotion

Even though you may be putting the shorts away, keep moisturizing your legs, arms, and any other dry patches on your body. If you hide your legs under jeans while neglecting lotion, your skin will get dry and irritated, and when you do start wearing shorts again, there will be tons of damage control to do. If there’s any point to be made here, it’s that thorough, year-round skin care is essential, and consistency is key for the overall health of your skin.

Itchy skin in the fall is also a common nuisance, and it’s a direct result of dry flakey skin. So, remember, it’s not just the skin’s appearance that your routine is effecting. Your comfort levels are at stake as well.

Make sure your cleanser doesn’t strip your skin

Cleanser is the first step of your skincare routine and is crucial for removing excess makeup, dirt, and oil from the skin. However, there’s a fine line between reducing oil gently, and stripping oil completely. The latter will leave your skin dull and dry, and since humidity isn’t as rampant in the fall, there’s not much hydration in the air to replenish your skin’s natural moisture.

Make sure to use a cleanser that is free of sulfates, fragrance, alcohol, and other common irritants that are known to deplete skin’s natural moisture.

If your skin is naturally dry, and you need an extra boost during the drier months of the year, use an oil based cleanser that has emollient ingredients like soybean oil and glycerin to help lock in more moisture.

Up your Antioxidants

Coming out of summer, your skin most likely dealt with an influx of exposure to UV rays and pollution from spending more time outdoors, as well as chlorine from days spent in the pool. These environmental stressors break down the skin barrier which is what’s constantly working to keep moisture in and irritants out. A damaged skin barrier leads to extra dryness, premature aging, and irritation, so keeping it healthy and strong is essential.

Antioxidants are the key to rebuilding and strengthening the skin barrier and fighting free radicals so make sure you're eating antioxidant rich foods like berries, artichokes, nuts, and beans. You can also apply antioxidants topically, so look out for antioxidants ingredients like vitamins C and E, niacinamide, and coenzyme Q10.

Does lip balm heal chapped lips or make them worse?

Chapped, cracked, windburned lips are easily the worst thing that cold weather spawns. Nothing hurts quite like cracking a smile and feeling your lip split in the process. Ouch! Most people pack on the lip balm after their lips are already chapped, but it’s really your key to preventing chapped lips in the first place. However, this is only the case if you choose the right one.

Some lip balms will make chapped lips worse by using humectant ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. I know, it’s a bit confusing, because those are the exact ingredients you want for the rest of your skin, but the lips are a different story. The skin on the lips is thinner and they don’t have oil glands to produce their own moisture so they are more vulnerable to moisture depletion. Humectants pull out the little moisture that lips absorb from the surrounding oil glands, and they don’t have the strong skin barrier to lock it in, so it evaporates.

You want to instead use occlusive ingredients that create a protective barrier like shea butter, cocoa butter, and various other oils which will in turn lock moisture into the lips, and prevent chapping. On the other hand, avoid ingredients known to dry out the lips like menthol, salicylic acid, cinnamic aldehyde, and peppermint flavors. Investing in a lip balm that will form a protective layer against the elements will ward off a fall and winter full of soft, smooth lips.

Don’t forget SPF in the Fall

Let’s face it. We’ve all googled it: Do you need sunscreen when it’s cloudy outside? The answer is de facto so say it with me folks: Sunscreen should be applied every day, even if it isn’t sunny out. Wearing sunscreen in fall and winter is just as important as in the summer. Through fog, rain, snow, and clouds, the sun is still at work, and sending its damaging UV rays into your skin; according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 80% of UV rays seep through the clouds and reach the earth. These rays are not only damaging to the appearance of skin, but can also lead to skin cancer. Skin care is for more than just appearance it’s for your overall health.

Try making sunscreen application as habitual as cleansing and moisturizing, and not just an add-on for sunny days spent outside. Keep it in plain sight amongst your other skin care so you remember to grab it after applying your moisturizer. Once you form the habit and start applying sunscreen year round, your skin will see all of the benefits of sunscreen.

Steaming skin and using a humidifier for moisture

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends closing the door while you shower or bathe to trap in steam, or using a humidifier to mimic natural air humidity and add some moisture to the air in your home.

If you want a little added spa treatment for your skin, try steaming your skin once a week. You can buy a facial steamer, or just fill a large bowl with hot water and put your face above the water with a towel draped over to keep in the steam.

Seasons and weather patterns change, but that doesn’t mean your healthy, glowy skin has to as well. Slight alterations in your daily regimen and extra care will help ensure your skin is the best it can be year round.

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