6 Vitamin C Serums That Will Transform Your Skin

The vitamin that makes orange juice so nutritious also happens to be one the the most powerful players in skincare. Obviously, we’re talking vitamin C. 

Apart from being your saving grace during a cold that just won’t quit, the vitamin can help brighten dark spots, even out skin tone, and support collagen production. In other words, there’s a reason why there are so many serums with Vitamin C — it’s a versatile ingredient that can work wonders for the skin.

Whether your dermatologist recommended adding one to your routine, or your friend is swearing by their vitamin C splurge and you want in on the hype, here are a few of the best out right now. 

No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence

At less than $30, you can’t really beat the price of this radiance-boosting vitamin C-based serum, which promises results in two weeks.

Buy at Target $25

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare C + Collagen Brighten & Firm Serum

Your secret to curing dull winter skin? This serum, which not only helps prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, but evens out your skin tone and gives it that healthy glow you’ve been missing since August. 

Buy at Dermstore $78

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

This L-ascorbic acid-based serum delivers on warding off free radicals and the signs of aging, but it’s also made with pumpkin ferment extract and pomegranate enzyme to exfoliate dead skin cells sitting on the surface of your skin.

Buy at Sephora $80

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum

Now this is a powerful one. It’s made with vitamin C and E, as well as ferulic acid to help those two components do their jobs of neutralizing free radicals and improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles way better. It also keeps working on your skin for 72 hours. 

Buy at Dermstore $166

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum

Sunday Riley’s 15 percent vitamin C serum delivers all the anti-aging benefits you’d hope for, while reducing redness and gently exfoliating the surface of your skin. 

Buy at Sephora $85

DIOR Capture Youth Glow Booster Age-Delay Illuminating Serum

Dior just one-upped your glass of orange juice with a serum that’s made with murunga plum, a fruit that the brand claims is 100 times more concentrated in vitamin C than oranges. That, combined with AHAs and antioxidant-rich ingredients, makes this glow-boosting tonic a must-have for winter. 

Buy at Sephora $95

INSTYLE article

Supergoop’s New Vitamin C SPF Serum to Make Your Skin Super Glowy

No more excuses for skipping sunscreen!

Wearing a bra, pants, or even a T-shirt without holes in it are all optional when working from home, but sunscreen should be non-negotiable.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Why do I need SPF if I’m inside?” Well, if you have windows in your house, then it’s possible for UVA rays to penetrate through the glass and onto your skin.

My skincare routine since the beginning of COVID-19 in March 2020 has fluctuated: from being neglected to super intense. I’ve stripped the products I use every day down to the essentials (including SPF!), but I jump at an easy way out. That’s where hybrid products like Supergoop!’s Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF enter the conversation.

Daily Dose is the first serum to combine vitamin C with SPF. Here’s how it works: the formula contains a stable form of vitamin C (10% 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid) to tackle dark spots, plus additional radiance-boosting ingredients such as niacinamide, and kakadu plum extract. Because mineral sunscreen operates at a different pH level than vitamin C, Supergoop! has included an oxybenzone-free chemical SPF 40 in the serum. There’s also marine extract to protect skin against blue light, another cause of hyperpigmentation.

Skin cancer and sun damage are the two most important reasons for wearing sunscreen despite spending most of your time social distancing at home. But if the focus of your skincare routine is hyperpigmentation, acne, uneven texture, or all of the above, you’re wasting your money buying expensive products with active ingredients if you’re not topping off your routine with sunscreen to prevent further damage.

That’s why, as someone who has become somewhat lazy with their skincare, replacing my vitamin C serum and SPF with Daily Dose was a no-brainer.

If you’re using the serum in lieu of a traditional SPF, Daily Dose should be the last step in your morning skincare routine. However, you can add another SPF over top for an extra layer of protection, or you can finish things off with your favorite moisturizer, which won’t disrupt SPF filter.

Buy at Nordstrom $46

While serum comes out of the bottle with a thin gel-like texture, it gets thicker like a traditional SPF when you apply it. However, the white cast goes away with a bit of massaging and it doesn’t feel heavy under any moisturizer or make it pill.

The verdict is still out whether the vitamin C is doing anything to get rid of dark spots. But reviews are being patient. And in the meantime, its glow-boosting ingredients gives an instantly dewy look.

Plus, I like the convenience of having two important skincare steps in one product!

INSTYLE article

The Best Face Scrubs Under $20

I feel as though physical exfoliation is one of the most satisfying skin-care practices because of the instant gratification it can provide (hello, immediately refreshed skin). Not only does exfoliation feel amazing and leave skin instantly more luminous; a good face scrub paves the way for the serums and moisturizers to follow, according to board-certified dermatologist Jeannette Graf.

“Exfoliating can help skin-care products penetrate 20 percent better,” she tells Allure. But here’s a word to the wise: As with most things, there is such thing as too much of a good thing in the case of scrubbing your face. You can avoid over-exfoliation by capping your scrub sessions to a maximum of three times per week.

Whether you need something that’s extra gentle for sensitive skin or want a scrub with a little extra oomph for perpetually clogged pores, I’ve got you — and your wallet — covered. Happy scrubbing, folks.

Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub

It’s not ideal to use a face scrub every day, according to dermatologists — so if you’re going to kick up your exfoliation, use the most gentle scrub possible to prevent damage to your skin barrier. The daily scrub from Cetaphil is packed with pH-balancing glycerin, so it hydrates while it sloughs away dead skin cells.

$10 (Shop Now)

Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Gel

If you’re prone to acne, dullness, and hyperpigmentation, here’s a prime pick for you. The itty-bitty granules in Bioderma’s Exfoliating Gel physically exfoliate until they burst with salicylic and glycolic acid, which chemically exfoliate away impurities. With this formula, you’re getting twice the exfoliation in one product.

$15 (Shop Now)

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefuit Exfoliating Scrub

Dermatologists love the Best of Beauty-winning Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser from Neutrogena, and the scrub version is full of all the same clarifying ingredients, plus tiny microbeads that give an added boost of physical exfoliation.

$11 (Shop Now)

No7 Radiant Results Revitalising Daily Face Polish

No7’s Daily Face Polish contains ginseng root, which, all by itself, comes with a multitude of skin benefits. According to dermatologists, ginseng contains all sorts of antioxidants and vitamins that prevent fine lines, acne, and even hyperpigmentation.

$9 (Shop Now)

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub

You can always count on an Aveeno product to be gentle on even the most sensitive skin types, and its Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub is no exception. With antioxidant soy extract, gylcerin, and jojoba oil, this scrub exfoliates just as much as it soothes and nourishes.

$12 (Shop Now)

Bliss Micro Magic

Just like the treatments available at Bliss Spa locations, the Micro Magic scrub will leave you feeling totally refreshed. It’s basically a gentle, at-home version of a microdermabrasion that sloughs away dirt and oil with volcanic pumice while its aloe vera soothes and de-puffs.

$13 (Shop Now)

La Roche-Posay Ultra-Fine Scrub

If sensitive skin plus physical exfoliation sounds like a recipe for disaster, let the Ultra-Fine Scrub by La Roche-Posay change your mind. Super-fine pumice particles — suspended in a cooling gel formula — provide just the right amount of grit without feeling scratchy. Plus, this stuff leaves skin with a quenched suppleness you might expect from a water-based gel moisturizer.

$18 (Shop Now)

L’Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Scrub Nourish & Soften

This L’Oréal Paris sugar scrub is everything a sugar scrub should be — but better. The Pure-Sugar Scrub is infused with not one but three different types of sugar, suspended in a creamy mixture of coconut oil and cocoa butter. The skin-softening formula isn’t overly abrasive, yet it leaves skin visibly glowing after one use. As you probably guessed by the ingredients, the formula smells like baking batter — but just like real batter, you definitely shouldn’t eat it. That said, it does doubles as an excellent lip scrub if you’re compelled to use it near your mouth.

$10 (Shop Now)

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub

Oily-skinned folks, listen up. The creamy white exfoliator from Simple contains rice powder to absorb excess oil, and the gentle silica particles — a replacement for microbeads — work to manually slough off dead skin, leaving you positively glowing.

$8 (Shop Now)

Yes To Coconut Energizing Coffee 2-in-1 Scrub & Cleanser Stick

In case you prefer toting your cleansers around in stick form, consider this portable scrub by Yes to Coconut, which makes exfoliating way easier than ever. Not to mention, Yes To’s coconut and coffee combo smells amazing.

$10 (Shop Now)

Olay Micropolishing Cleansing Infusions Facial Cleanser with Crushed Ginger

This micro-polish cleanser from Olay reminds me of formulas that are five times its price. The tiny granules feel pleasantly sandy and break down into a creamy consistency as you cleanse, leaving skin visibly glowy post-rinse. Plus, the formula has a zingy scent that smells like summer and happy days, thanks to crushed ginger and citrus.

$10 (Shop Now)

St. Ives Energizing Coconut & Coffee Scrub

Fun fact: This concoction from St. Ives was born after the brand asked fans which scrub they’d like to see next on shelves. This enlivening coffee and coconut combo won. Fans of the (albeit, controversial) Apricot Scrub will love how this provides the same level of super-deep exfoliation (thanks to an infusion of crushed walnut) with the added benefits of skin-softening coconut and circulation-promoting coffee.

$5 (Shop Now)

Yes To Grapefruit Daily Facial Scrub

Citrus scents in the shower are a pick-me-up as much as they are a wake-me-up. The grapefruit extract in Yes To’s citrusy scrub is naturally high in vitamin C (so it boosts collagen production and helps reduce hyperpigmentation), as well as lycopene, which naturally aids in protecting skin from UV damage.

$7 (Shop Now)

Bioré Charcoal Pore Minimizer

The beaker-like nozzle of Bioré’s Charcoal Pore Minimizer makes you feel like you’re in chemistry class every time you use this black scrub. The charcoal powder pulls out oil and pollutants like a magnet, and it all rinses away with the gel.

$10 (Shop Now)

Mario Badescu Kiwi Face Scrub

The super-creamy formula, which features kiwi seeds and alpha-hydroxy acids (which you can read more about here), leaves your skin smoother than ever — and yet it’s astonishingly nonabrasive. The pearlescent mint-green color is so stunning!

$15 (Shop Now)

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The Best Hydrating Tinted Moisturizers

For some days and for some people, foundations and concealers just feel like way too much work — and way too much coverage. While there’s certainly a time and a place for a full-coverage face, there’s no denying the effortless and hydrating properties of a tinted moisturizer. But although the concept of a tinted moisturizer sounds pretty simple, there are tons of specific ingredients that make the difference between an OK tinted moisturizer and an amazing one. And by “amazing tinted moisturizer,” I really mean one that actually — well, you know… moisturizes.

So ALLURE editors asked makeup artists and cosmetic chemists to break down what they think are the best tinted moisturizers out there. If you love makeup that comes with added skincare benefits for plump, dewy, and hydrated skin, try one of these picks.

Whether you end up loving an older staple from a brand like Laura Mercier or an experimentative new take like Ilia Beauty’s pigmented serum, you’ll find your skin is in much better shape for it.

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream

Many tinted moisturizers have powder pigments that soak up skin’s oils, zapping some of the natural moisture from your face. To fix this, BareMinerals coated its pigments in lauroyl lysine, an amino acid derived from coconuts. 

“Because the pigments are cocooned, they won’t dry out your skin. Instead, the formula feels very soft and silky,” says cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson. When you mix those pigments with glycerin and squalane, you get a formula that “actively promotes hydration.” In addition to containing moisturizing ingredients, the light, cooling gel evens out skin tone and minimizes redness, which means all you’re left with is a soft, dewy glow.

$33 (Shop Now)

Tarte Maracuja Tinted Hydrator

Tarte’s tinted moisturizers have always been an Allure editor favorite, and its latest version is no different. The Maracuja Tinted Hydrator combines the skin-nourishing properties of maracuja oil with plumping hyaluronic acid and collagen, plus brightening turmeric, for skin that glows well after you’ve taken this off. 

$29 (Shop Now)

Ilia Beauty Super Serum Skin Tint

Squalane, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide join forces for Ilia’s Super Serum Skin Tint. With the added benefit of sun-protective SPF 40, this thick, hydrating serum offers up light but buildable coverage you can rub in quickly and easily with your fingertips. 

$46 (Shop Now)

Erborian BB Cream Tinted Moisturizer

Even though its only available in a few light shades, Allure associate beauty director Sarah Kinonen loves this BB Cream Tinted Moisturizer for its hydrating ginseng and brightening fruit extracts. For those who are extra prone to redness, you can also turn to the brand’s Best of Beauty-winning CC Red Correct. 

$39 (Shop Now)

Burt’s Bees Goodness Glows Tinted Moisturizer

With its pH-balancing glycerin, squalene, and sunflower seed oil, it’s clear to see why Burt’s Bees Goodness Glows has such high ratings online. What’s more: It contains antioxidant green tea extract that reduces redness, leaving behind a calm, even base for its sheer pigments. 

$12 (Shop Now)

Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer

This tinted moisturizer is free of pthalates, parabens, and 1,500 other ingredients that the cruelty-free brand has identified as potentially harmful or irritating, so you’re left with only tried-and-true elements, like glycerin and sodium hyaluronate. 

“Both of these ingredients are humectants, meaning they draw moisture to the surface of the skin to keep cells hydrated,” says Wilson. The creamy formula is more pigmented than most tinted moisturizers, so it does a great job of covering imperfections. One catch: Its thick consistency makes it a little difficult to spread, so you’ll likely end up using more product than usual.

$45 (Shop Now)

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector

Ask any beauty fan and they’ll likely tell you that Laura Mercier’s is the first tinted moisturizer they ever used — and fell in love with. With its sheer, buildable coverage and moisture-packed formula, there’s a reason this product is a cult favorite and four-time Allure Best of Beauty winner.It’s noncomedogenic, but those with acne-prone or oily skin may benefit even more from the upgraded oil-free version of the formula.

$47 (Shop Now)

Chanel Les Beiges All-In-One Healthy Glow Fluid

For skin that needs a hefty dose of hydration, this illuminating tinted moisturizer packs a major punch. It contains glycerin, which leaves skin feeling soft and plump while dimethicone wards off dryness throughout the day. 

“Dimethicone reduces transepidermal water loss, which is when water escapes through the skin and into the atmosphere, so it works long-term to increase skin’s hydration,” explains Wilson. And thanks to the smallest, tiniest shimmery gold particles, you’re left with a natural, allover glow that will have people asking if you just got back from vacation.

$40 (Shop Now)

Clinique Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator

Just like Clinique’s beloved Moisture Surge cream, the Sheertint Hydrator penetrates deep beneath the skin to hydrate and calm the skin — that’s thanks to its strong concentration of cucumber extract, aloe, and hyaluronic acid. 

$39 (Shop Now)

Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer Tinted SPF 47 Protect + Perfect

Josie Maran’s Protect + Perfect is less of a tinted moisturizer and more of a tinted sunscreen, and we’ll take all the sun protection we can get. Alongside its SPF 47, this formula is very lightly tinted with pigments in one tan shade, giving it just enough color to mask slight skin imperfections and give its wearer and warm, sun-tanned look.

$34 (Shop Now)

L’Oréal Paris Visible Lift Luminous Serum Tinted Moisturizer

Consider L’Oréal’s Visible Lift Luminous Serum the perfect solution to skin that needs an extra boost of shimmer for radiance. Available in five warm shades, this tinted moisturizer acts more like a highlighter than your average formula, so feel free to pat a little extra on all the high points of your face.

$15 (Shop Now)

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

It’s not shocking at all that a brand that Neutrogena could deliver one of the best tinted moisturizer formulas out there with ingredients like vitamins A, C, and E. On top of all those antioxidants, Healthy Skin Tinted Moisturizer also contains small pearlescent pigment that provide a glowing, dewy sheen.

$13 (Shop Now)

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

Sensitive-skinned girls, Nars has got one just for you. The silky-smooth Radian Tinted Moisturizer has a formula that’s both oil-free and made without parabens or synthetic fragrances, so you won’t have to worry about irritation or clogged pores.

“This is a really great product to apply with your fingertips; it’s super sheer and easy to blend,” says makeup artist Ashleigh Ciucci. “Or you can tap it on with a sponge to build subtle coverage.” Its barely-there coverage might be a little too light for those with post-breakout redness or discoloration, though, so have a concealer on hand for touch-ups.

$45 (Shop Now)

No7 City Light Tinted Moisturizer

This highly rated tinted moisturizer formula from No7 is a fan-favorite for low-effort application and comfortable light coverage. Although it contains SPF 15 for sun protection, we still recommend wearing an SPF 30 or higher underneath it, especially if you plan to go outside.

$15 (Shop Now)

Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar Skin Tint

This thick and creamy skin tint from Philosophy has slightly higher coverage than other tinted moisturizer, according to Dall’Asen. But you can still apply it directly with the fingers just like you would your favorite moisturizer for effortless all-over coverage with a slightly matte finish.

$40 (Shop Now)

ALLURE article

This Drugstore Secret Is the Key to Smooth and Glowy Skin

I would say the end skincare goal for pretty much all of us is healthy, smooth, and glowy skin. We’ll pay a lot of money for products from cleansers to moisturizers to serums to get there. The only hitch is that there are many paths to “good” skin, and it all depends on your skin type. The products you use for your oily skin might not exactly work on your friend with dry skin.

One skincare item that can help across the board? A good exfoliant. Now, the specific product you choose depends on your skin’s needs, but some exfoliation every now and then will help slough off dead skin cells, reveal smooth skin, and encourage skin renewal. If you have oily, acne-prone, or combination skin, it might help to exfoliate once or twice a week. For sensitive and dry skin types, however, you might be better off limiting your usage to once a week or even less frequently. Bottom line: Everyone should keep an exfoliating product on hand, no matter their skin type.

There are different types of exfoliants, too. Mechanical ones are the scrubs, sugars, and brushes out there. Chemical exfoliants contain ingredients like alpha hydroxy (glycolic and lactic), beta hydroxy (salicylic), and polyhydroxy acids. While the word “chemical” might sound scary, these products are often much gentler on the skin than the mechanical exfoliants since some of those scrubs can be irritating or harsh.

The sheer volume of exfoliating products out there can get overwhelming and can range from high-end to budget friendly. While I love the splurge-y exfoliants that really do the work, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a quality item—there are a ton of drugstore and affordable buys.

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Exfoliating Daily Facial Scrub ($5)

This exfoliating scrub is gentle enough for everyday use because it has a moisturizing soy extract and jojoba and castor oils. It’s also noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog pores.

Neutrogena Pore Refining Exfoliating Facial Cleanser ($7)

Neutrogena’s cleanser is both a mechanical and chemical exfoliant. It contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids to brighten the skin’s complexion and reduce the appearance of pores.

Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub ($16)

With superfine granules, this scrub is okay to use on sensitive skin. It’s formulated with skin conditioners and vitamins to nourish and soften skin.

L’Oréal Revitalift Bright Reveal Facial Cleanser ($5)

L’Oréal’s daily cleanser is another mechanical and chemical exfoliant combo. It has micropearls and glycolic acid, which work to slough off dead skin cells and improve skin tone and texture.

CeraVe Salicylic Acid Cleanser ($22)

CeraVe’s cleanser is a great option for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It’s formulated with salicylic acid to exfoliate and hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin D to smooth and hydrate the skin.

Burt’s Bees Refining Cleanser ($9)

If retinol irritates your skin, this cleanser might give you the same benefits without any problems. It’s formulated with bakuchiol, which is a gentler, natural alternative to retinol. The cleanser will smooth wrinkles and hydrate (thanks to vitamin E).

Clean & Clear Deep Action Exfoliating Facial Scrub ($6)

As its name suggests, this scrub really gets deep into skin to clear pores and remove dirt, oil, and makeup. When you apply it, you’ll feel a tingly, cooling sensation, which is so refreshing.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Micro-Exfoliating Astringent Toner ($24)

Formulated for acne-prone and oily skin, this toner can be used to unclog and tighten pores. It contains salicylic acid to exfoliate and castor oil to prevent any irritation or dryness.

Honest Beauty Beauty Sleep Resurfacing Serum ($28)

This is one of the more unique exfoliating options on our list since it’s a serum that works to resurface skin overnight for a glowier complexion in the morning. Ingredients include five AHAs to exfoliate and hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture.

Neutrogena Deep Clean Purifying Cooling Gel and Exfoliating Face Scrub ($9)

This salicylic acid scrub works hard at clearing acne and clogged pores, but it won’t leave your skin irritated since the formula is a cooling gel. It’s never been more refreshing to exfoliate!

Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Gel ($15)

Oily skin gets relief with this gel scrub. It has both mechanical and chemical exfoliants, like microbeads and glycolic and salicylic acids, to remove dead skin cells and promote cell renewal. Antioxidants, laminaria, and vitamin E work to leave the skin soothed and radiant.

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub ($23)

Formulated with rice granules and vitamins B5 and E, this scrub works for all skin types to improve dull skin. It doesn’t contain dyes or perfumes.

Avène Gentle Exfoliating Gel ($20)

Here’s yet another mechanical and chemical combo. This exfoliating gel purifies pores and increases cell turnover thanks to exfoliating microspheres, salicylic acid, and zinc gluconate. It also contains spring water to soothe redness and inflammation.

Bioré Pore Unclogging Scrub ($6)

This scrub not only works to unclog pores and slough off dead skin cells, but it also has acne-fighting benefits, courtesy of salicylic acid. And because it clears out dirt and oil, it can prevent future breakouts.

L’Oréal Pure-Clay Face Mask ($10)

Use this face mask up to three times a week for 10 to 15 minutes to even skin texture and leave your face looking glowy. It’s formulated with clay, red algae, and volcanic rock to exfoliate and smooth the skin’s surface.

WHOWHATWEAR article

How to Transition Your Skincare Routine From Summer to Fall

As summer’s scorching temps and steamy humidity slowly turn to earlier sunsets and cooler, drier air, the seasonal change in weather has a larger impact on our skin than you might think.

“Our skin is our first and most important barrier between our bodies and the outside world,” says Stanford-educated dermatologist Dr. Laurel Geraghty. “As temperatures and humidity levels drop, skin is one of the first organs to feel the effects, as it becomes dryer, more fragile, flakier, and itchier.”

Fall and winter are also when recurring skin conditions, like eczema, dandruff, and psoriasis rashes, tend to flare up, she cautions. 

To keep skin radiant and healthy — and dry skin freak outs far, far away — follow these dermatologist-approved skincare swaps and tweaks to make the seasonal shift seamless. 

Why Does My Skin Get So Dry in the Fall?

“In the fall and especially in the winter, the dip in humidity, cooler weather, hot showers, and indoor heaters all dry out the skin and damage the skin barrier,” explains Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, board-certified NYC dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology. “When the skin barrier is compromised, skin becomes sensitized, leading to cracks in the outer layer of the skin, loss of hydration, and eventually, inflammation.” 

To soothe these negative seasonal effects on skin, a hydration-boosting skincare routine is critical and should also work to keep the skin barrier healthy. To help combat these changes, Dr. Kanchanapoomi Levin recommends using products rich in cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides.

When Should I Change My Skincare Routine? 

It’s a subtle, delicate dance between summer and fall — one day it’s toasty enough for a tank top and the next you’re reaching for a hoodie — but there are a few seasonal red flags to nudge you to begin the transition.

A good rule of thumb is how often you’re reaching for a light jacket before going outside, says Houston-based dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, Dr. DiAnne Davis. If you’re grabbing another layer of clothing more days than not, that’s a sign to re-evaluate your routine. 

A slightly more playful seasonal sign, according to Dr. Geraghty, is when it’s cold enough to see your breath. 

But most importantly, you have to listen to your own body. “Some patients with sensitive skin or extremely dry skin may have to make adjustments sooner than patients with oilier skin,” Dr. Davis explains.  

Skincare Swap 1: Cleansers

Foaming cleansers or gels that help to control oil and do a nightly deep clean are a godsend when summer temps hit the 90s. But in the winter, when there’s less moisture in the air to begin with and the skin produces less oil, it’s a double dry skin whammy. Cleansers that strip skin of its natural oils will accelerate and intensify dry skin. 

Tread lightly with acne-focused skincare made with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, cautions Davis, as these harsh ingredients can exacerbate dry skin. Bottom line: shelve the clarifying, acne-focused and super foamy cleansers until next summer. 

Instead, opt for a gentle, creamy formulation, like dermatologist favorite CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser or the High Performance Cleanser from Macrene Actives. For an extra shot of moisture to the skin, try a cream-to-oil cleanser like Laneige’s Cream Skin Milk Oil Cleanser, to ensure a hydrated and healthy skin barrier.

Skincare Swap 2: Moisturizers

During the dog days of summer, a light lotion or tinted cream may be enough to keep skin moisturized and supple, but as soon as the temperature drops, all bets are off. There’s no way around it: Keeping skin hydrated in the cooler months is the cardinal rule of wintertime skincare.

To build a defense against dry skin, choose a rich, creamy moisturizer with humectants and occlusive ingredients. “Not only to draw water into the skin but also to seal the hydration into the skin,” says Dr. Kanchanapoomi Levin, who recommends the moisture-packed StriVectin Re-Quench Water Cream to her patients. “Overall, ingredients like glycerin, ceramides and Niacin ensure well hydrated skin as well as a robust and intact skin barrier.”

For the driest skin types, and those with eczema and psoriasis rashes, heavier creams and ointments containing petrolatum, like shelfie staple Aquaphor, quench and heal skin better than anything else, says Dr. Geraghty, even if it leaves a slightly messy, gooey feeling on the skin. And really, what’s a little stickiness compared to a lot of relief? 

To really amp up the skin’s absorption, follow the technique that dermatologists often call the ‘soak and smear’: apply your serum or moisturizer after cleansing your face and patting dry, but while the skin is still damp for maximum hydration.

Skincare Swap 3: Serums

To go the extra mile to combat skin dehydration, layer on a nourishing serum, like the popular cult classic Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum, that will help replenish lost moisture, giving you long-term hydration and smoother, plumper skin.

Pat the serum onto damp skin after cleansing but before a moisturizer. 

Skincare Swap 4: Sunscreen

“Unless you’re out skiing, exercising, or golfing on a bright winter day, or unless you live in a southern state, there’s not much need for a high SPF sunscreen, that being SPF 50 or higher, since UVB rays are at a minimum,” says Dr. Geraghty. 

On the flip side, UVA rays — the long wavelengths of sunlight that penetrate into the skin’s dermis, breaking down collagen and elastin, which contributes to sun spots, sagging,  and wrinkling — dominate the winter months. And even worse: because of the cooler temps, it’s harder to feel the ray’s effects on your skin, which can lead to serious sun damage without even noticing.

“During the cool months, it’s important to choose a sunscreen labelled ‘broad spectrum,’ since the SPF rating refers only to protection against UVB and not UVA light,” explains Dr. Geraghty, who favors Elta MD UV Daily and Supergoop! Superscreen Daily Moisturizer SPF 40. “The ingredients available in the US that most effectively protect against UVA light are zinc oxide and avobenzone.”

Skincare Swap 5: Actives and Exfoliants

For sensitive skin types, tread lightly with potentially irritating ingredients, like alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, retinoids, and toners, says Dr. Geraghty, who scales back her own topical retinoid cream during the winter to three to four times per week versus her nearly daily summertime use. 

Because it’s easier for the skin to become inflamed during the drier months, Davis also recommends cutting back on exfoliating. Chemical or physical exfoliation once or twice a week should be plenty, unless you have visible flakiness, as it can perpetuate the dehydration cycle by stripping the skin’s oils. And when you do exfoliate, go for a lighter, less intense exfoliant, like Skinceuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight.

When in doubt with wintertime actives, follow Dr. Geraghty’s words of wisdom: If anything makes the complexion stingy, burning, or pink, that could be a sign it’s too irritating for the season.   

Skincare Swap #6: Lip Balm

If you think a thin swipe of flavored tinted lip balm will save your lips from getting chapped or cracked, think again. Load up on tiny tubes of Aquaphor — Dr. Geraghty keeps hers in several highly trafficked areas — or Vaseline to layer on throughout the day to proactively protect the skin.

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