Get 6 simple dermatologist-approved tips for how to transition your skin care from summer to fall. Weather, temperatures, humidity and activities change with the seasons and your skin care needs to change too. Just like your wardrobe, what feels good on your skin in summer won’t as the season transitions to fall. Your summer skin care routine also may not protect your skin from fall and winter dryness.
Cooler windy outside air combined with heated indoor air always pulls moisture out of your skin, leading to dry itchy skin and even eczema.
Avoid this with simple, targeted skin care swaps. Know too that the softer fall light is a trickster, tempting you to slack off on sun protection. Don’t! Fall sun has an equal amount of wrinkle-making UVA that also darkens skin pigment problems like melasma. Learn from a dermatologist how to pick the best fall and winter skin care products to keep your skin healthy, comfortable and attractive as you transition with the season.
Why does my skin get so dry in the fall?
As outdoor temperatures drop so does the humidity. Indoor heaters pull water out of your skin, hot showers also pull lipids out of your skin. This, in turn, leads to damage to skin barrier protein.
Remember that your skin’s insulating barrier is a brick and mortar structure of protein-filled bricks mortared together with lipids. - Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey
Damage to skin lipids and protein results is dry, itchy skin with increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL) that is prone to cracking and eczema. Head it off before it starts. As a dermatologist, I know that proactive skin care will counter the negative seasonal impact on your skin, protecting a healthy skin barrier so that you will have comfortable and problem-free skin through the fall and winter.
When should I change my skin care routine?
You know that the weather has changed when that subtle chill in the air has you wanting longer sleeve shirts and a light sweater or jacket before stepping outside. Certainly, by the time you are turning on the heater it definitely means your skin care needs to change for the season.
Dermatologist-approved tips to transition your skin care this fall
Fall Skincare Swap 1: Go gentle with skin cleansing
Swap out your summer cleansers for gentle cleansers as fall begins. Summer sweat, oil and activities often have us wanting stronger skin cleansers during hot weather. Strong cleansers are too much for drier conditions in the fall.
Select pH balanced cleansers or well-made natural soaps.
Examples of the best pH balanced cleansers for fall from my products include: Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser for sensitive skin, Triple Action Exfoliating Cleanser for skin brightening and deep pore cleansing, Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser (medicated for those struggling with acne) and Glycolic Acid Face and Body Wash for face brightening. All are formulated with a pH balanced base that create the right amount of gentle fall skin cleansing plus the addition of non-drying levels of ‘active’ ingredients help you achieve your skin care goals.
For those wanting 100% natural skin cleansing options, natural fragrance-free soaps are great alternative. My Naturally Best Bar Soap, Shower Gel and Foaming Liquid Hand Soap are certified organic, fragrance free, good for the entire family and kind to the planet. Keep the Foaming Hand Soap at every sink to ensure that your hands never get washed with dish soap or harsh hand soaps – harsh hand soaps are all too common!
Know too that skin cleansers are a common source of allergens and phthalates (often included in products that vaguely list ‘fragrance’ as an ingredient). Phthalates are hormone disruptors that wash down the drain to ultimately damaging aquatic ecosystems. Phthalates are bad and I’m serious about keeping phthalates out of your skin care. All of my products are phthalate-free.
In fall, it’s also important to resist using hot water when cleansing your skin. Yes, a hot shower feels great but remember how much better hot water works when cleaning the dishes compared to cooler water. You don’t want that when it comes to your skin. Know that your skin’s precious lipids will thank you if you cleanse your skin with warm – not steamy hot – water.
Fall Skincare Swap 2: Use richer moisturizers and don’t skip body lotion
Light moisturizers feel good in summer but aren’t enough once the weather cools and humidity drops. Look for skin quenchers like glycerin in your moisturizers. Replenish lost lipids with ceramides, squalane and botanical oils. Boost hydration at the earliest sign of dryness by adding a few drops of a facial oil to your favorite rich moisturizer – or use the oil straight for a real healing treatment against dry skin.
My Omega Enriched Booster Oil sooths dryness and irritation with organic plant-based oils including sea buckthorn to enhance skin water-holding capacity and borage oil which is rich in the essential fatty acid gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) that is important for healthy skin barrier. Your skin can’t make GLA, making this a natural 911 remedy for dry skin.
Rich botanical oils and glycerin in the Natural Face and Body Lotion and Natural Face and Body Butter Cream prevent dry arm, leg and body skin when applied within the magic 3 minutes after getting out of your daily bath or shower. These well-crafted natural products never feel greasy. They are fragrance free and ideal for the entire family.
Fall Skincare Swap 3: Add a deeply hydrating serum
Serums contain intensified actives to target specific goals. In fall, that needs to include deep skin hydration to quench thirsty skin before it starts to get dry. Fractionated hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA and just the right amount of glycerin are dehydration prevention super heroes. Hyaluronic acid binds 1000 times its weight in water to help prevent dehydrated skin. Use a serum made with fractionated hyaluronic acid daily after washing. The varying molecular weight sizes of this famous ingredient will stratify into the layers of your skin to plump and hold water.
Look for an HA serum that contains sodium PCA, which is part of your skin’s Natural Moisturizing Factor, or NMF, and glycerin such as my Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum. Top your serum with your rich facial moisturizer and know that your facial skin is well prepared for fall’s dehydrating air.
Fall Skincare Swap 4: Be generous with the lip balm
A simple lip gloss won’t cut it for your lips in fall. Stock up on handy lip balm made from protective ingredients that lock in lip moisture. Botanical oils combined with natural beeswax will protect lips well. Did you know that lips chap because they are structurally more vulnerable than skin? They have a much thinner and weaker barrier layer than the rest of your skin, resulting in a rapid dehydration, damage and chapping.
Start protecting your lips now by applying lip balm at bedtime and many times throughout the day to proactively fend off chapped, cracked and painful lips. Keep a lip balm such as my certified organic Natural Lip Balm everywhere – purse, backpack, car, bathroom, bedside table, desk – where ever you hang out so that it’s easy to reapply throughout your day.
Fall Skincare Swap 5: Take good care of your hands
Cold and flu season, and this year’s COVID pandemic, have you hand sanitizing and hand washing many times a day – all to the detriment of your hand skin! Add in fall’s lower humidity, cool windy air and indoor heated air and you’ve got the perfect storm for chapped hands. Once chapped, hands take months to heal.
Two steps to proactively prevent hand chapping by getting serious about your hand care.
- Wash your hands with a gentle foaming hand soap that rinses off easily. Retained soap residue pulls out precious lipids to allow protein damage to your important hand skin barrier. Rinse until you feel no soap residue. Be extra careful to rinse under rings and between fingers, where chapping often starts.
Always moisturize your hands often in fall and winter after washing them. This is really important. Select a product that you like and will use throughout the day after washing. My favorite is my Dry Hand Skin Cream, which does not leave a slippery grip. I also love my Natural Face, Hand and Body Lotion. I keep one of these by every sink so that it’s convenient to keep my hands well moisturized.
The right hand skin care products are so important for preventing painful chapped hands that I've created 2 kits to make it easy to have dermatologist-approved preventative care for your hands:
Fall Skincare Swap 6: Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks UVA on all exposed skin.
Summer is over but UVA isn't. Nope, UVA is equally intense all year. Sun feels softer because the sunburn UVB ray is less intense, but the longer UVA wavelengths are still strong and they penetrate more deeply into your skin to cause wrinkles. UVA is bad news! It breaks down collagen and elastin, leading to sagging, wrinkling, crepey and thin skin. It also darkens sun spots and melasma. Just because the sun is less likely to burn does not mean it is benign. Protect from UVA by using a sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” on the front label. Zinc oxide is a great UVA blocker, look for 5% or higher concentration. All of my sunscreens are broad spectrum zinc oxide products perfect for year-round protection - of course!
To really fight skin pigment problems, you also want to block visible light. Products with 3.2% or higher iron oxide do this, though it is almost impossible to find that noted on product labels. My Sheer Strength Pure Physical Matte Tinted Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ and Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 30 Refresh Powder both have 4% iron oxide to block visible light that contributes to skin pigment problems. Some mineral makeup is rich in iron oxide. Dust my SPF Refresh Powder over your cream or liquid sunscreen and know your skin protected from fall’s UVA and visible rays.
Your skin changes with the seasons and your skin care should too. Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey
As fall shadows lengthen, leaves change color and you find yourself grabbing a light sweater before stepping outside, change your skin care.
The best thing you can do for your skin in the fall is to keep it hydrated.
Don’t wait until dryness begins, start now. Take steps to keep skin hydrated - prevent barrier damage from overly harsh cleansing, use seasonally rich moisturizers that replenish skin lipids, and protect skin from damaging UVA rays. It’s simple, it’s seasonal and it’s easy with these 6 targeted swaps for your skin care.