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.

InStyle article

10 Beneficial Ways To Use Vaseline

  1. Use it as a lip scrub – apply a small amount on your lips and gently scrub with your toothbrush. Vaseline provides a nice layer of moisture while stripping away dead skin.
  2. Use it to prolong the scent of your fragrance – it stays on the surface of your skin, so apply it in places you would normally apply fragrance and voila! The scent lasts way longer.
  3. Use it on the cuts from shaving to stop bleeding and scarring, it helps heal it faster as well.
  4. Use it to maximize the benefits of your night cream – Vaseline doesn’t clog pores despite its heavy texture, and when used in particularly dry areas where you’d like your night cream to be particularly active, it can really help.
  5. Use it to maximize the benefits of your eye cream – it helps lock in the moisture (applied on top of the eye cream) and provide a plump and energized feeling in the morning.
  6. Put a light layer of Vaseline on the outside of your top teeth to help the lip slide up and down if you need to smile a lot during an event or a photoshoot.
  7. Use it to tame your eyebrows – instead of a brow gel, put a small amount of Vaseline on your brows and comb through with a spoolie as you normally would.
  8. Use it to help you during allergy season – apply a light coating on top and bottom lashes, and on the inside of the nostrils, which will help prevent the pollen from getting into your eyes and nose.
  9. Use it to help your nails – apply a generous amount on the base of the nail, cuticles, and wash off after about 10 minutes. Vaseline provides a lot of moisture and can help strengthen your nails.
  10. Use it to help tame baby hairs – apply a small amount and smooth the hairs into place. Don’t worry, it doesn’t look greasy, it creates a natural hair-like shine.

Do you use Vaseline at all? What do you use it for (if you do) and why don’t you use it (if you don’t)? Let me know in the comments below!

Treat Your Lips!

I’ve tried SO many different lip balms, chapsticks, lip scrubs, treatments, etc. But the ones that I’ve found to work best for different situations are:

  • NIVEA Hydro Care – very hydrating traditional lip balm (doesn’t disappear in minutes, like EOS…)
  • Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm – very nice for no-makeup days, provides a sheer tint of colour with long-lasting moisture from 100% natural ingredients, comes in a wide variety of shades
  • MAC Lip Scrubtious – my favourite lip scrub, comes in a variety of scents, works like magic with my (or clients’) lips
  • Wet’n’Wild Lip Scrub – a great drugstore alternative to the MAC one, comes in a couple other scents
  • Vaseline Lip Therapy – although I’m not a fan of using pot/tub lip treatments, I still use this one due to its intense hydration and repair qualities
  • NYX #thisiseverything Lip Oil – a lightweight, slightly tinted lip oil that provides a good balance of moisture/treatment and glossy shine
  • MAC Lip Conditioner – an emollient-based balm that conditions lips, locks in moisture, and gives a soft shine
  • MAC Prep + Prime Lip – a colour-free lipstick base that adds light moisture, smoothes, and refines. Works amazingly under liquid lipsticks!

When working on clients, I always moisturize the skin and apply any of the needed lip treatments/prep products at the very beginning, and giving them time to sink in and do their job.

What are your favourite lip treatments? Let me know in the comments below!

Some Of the Best Skincare Advice

There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding skincare “tips & tricks” and product recommendations. I really enjoy James Welsh’s YouTube channel, as he’s a skincare expert who can be trusted to go to for advice.

In his videos, he explains why certain skincare tips work or don’t, what skin type should incorporate what techniques, and more.

Some of the best tips from his videos that I continually practice:

  • Never use lemons or limes in your DIY skincare – they really dry out the skin!
  • Don’t place your masks or other topical treatments on your eyes – the skin on the eyes is very slim and sensitive, the chances of damaging the eyes are very high.
  • Always use eye protecting goggles when using light therapy treatments.
  • Apply actives after the moisturizer – a moisturizer creates a buffer before the toner, retinol, etc.
  • 3-Finger Sunscreen Method – apply a strip of sunscreen on the longest three fingers and apply to the face and neck, blend in with a sponge or a puff for the product to properly sink into the skin.
  • You can use the same cleanser to double cleanse – these days most cleansers contain ingredients to properly deal with makeup residue, environmental pollutants, and more.
  • Wash your hair before you wash your face and body – ingredients in shampoos and conditioners tend to clog pores if left not washed off, which can lead to breakouts and acne.
  • A simple 3-step morning and evening skincare routine that works best with your skin is all you need! Our skin changes and our routines should change accordingly. Having a basic routine to rely on is especially important when trying out new products to figure out what is causing an issue or bringing a benefit not seen before.
  • Consistency is key. At least do the basics and bare minimum even if your entire routine consists of 6 or more products.
  • Skincare is a really good anti-stress procedure – take the time to enjoy that face mask after a long day, make it interesting and exciting as a portion of “me time”.

Some of the myths he debunked in his videos:

  • To gain the benefits of certain products (fruits, ingredients) when using as a face mask – you should apply a mask that has been specifically formulated with a proper concentration of your desired ingredient. Simply placing that ingredient in a DIY mixture of some kind, or directly onto your face, will not give you the desired result.
  • There really is a difference between SPF 30 and 50. SPF 50 in chemical formulation is closer to SPF 60, therefore, there’s almost two times more protection using SPF 50 than 30.
  • Retinol does not thin out your skin. Skin cells undergo a natural renewal process, at some points being thinner than usual, however, it does become healthy again. Retinol sticks to proteins in the skin to deliver its many great qualities.
  • Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is not bad for you. It comes from crude oil (algae) and is only problematic without proper refinery, like in the 80s and 90s. Now, however, these mineral molecules are highly refined and stripped of carcinogenic particles.

The videos referenced are:

“Beauty Guru Skincare Mistakes!”
“The Biggest Skincare Myths/Misinformation Busted By Science!”
“Tips and Tricks To Improve And Transform Your Skin”
“Skincare Habits I Started In My 20s That Paid Off In My 30s!”

What are some of your skincare tips that you absolutely rely on? Let me know in the comments below!