Now that the air is turning crisp with the emergence of fall, thoughts of apples, pumpkin spice, and cozy sweaters are at the forefront of your mind. Another thing to add to that list: the right skin care.
One of the biggest changes between summer and fall is the drop in humidity. “For this reason, we see more eczema and skin irritation in the fall and winter than any other time of year,” says S. Tyler Hollmig, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at UT Dell Medical School and Ascension Seton in Austin, Texas.
What’s more, this lack of humidity means that people who found they could skip moisturizer in the summer suddenly need to start using one now — or step up to a heavier one, says Rebecca Baxt, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Paramus, New Jersey. That’s why for fall, the biggest adjustment will likely be to your moisturizing routine, no matter your skin type. Depending on if you’re oily, dry, or somewhere in between, you’ll be looking for a lotion (made with a large water content, making it a lightweight hydrator), cream (the next step), or an ointment (the strongest option), she says.
Since fall is a season of new beginnings, this may be a great time for a skin reset, says Dr. Baxt. “If you abused your skin this summer [in terms of sun exposure] or now have bad breakouts from constant sweat and sunscreen application, then peeling off that top layer of skin with a treatment like a chemical peel or laser resurfacing can help try to reverse the damage,” she says.
Don’t forget that your skin thrives when you treat your body well with healthy habits. Just because there may not be as large of an abundance or variety of fresh fruits and veggies doesn’t mean you should stop eating them. After all, fall is the season for squash, which is packed with carotenoids, compounds that have been shown in previous research to give skin a healthy glow. Beyond that, here’s how to tweak your routine for fall, based on your skin type or goal:
For Oily Skin, Focus on Skin Care That Sops Up Sebum
There’s a lot of good news with the switch of the seasons: “Fall can be a great time for patients with oilier skin. They are at a lower risk of a breakout than during spring and summer. It’s almost like the environment is appropriately medicating their skin, which is a beautiful thing,” says Dr. Hollmig. After washing with a gentle cleanser (one option is Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, Walmart.com), he suggests applying a moisturizer containing hyaluronic acid, which acts as a humectant to attract water to skin, and can appropriately hydrate acne-prone complexions without prompting breakouts, according to an article published in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel with Hyaluronic Acid (Neutrogena.com) is billed as a treatment for dry skin. But considering it has a gel texture and is oil-free and noncomedogenic, it’s also suitable for oily skin. Noncomedogenic means the product is unlikely to clog your pores and cause breakouts, according to Harvard Medical School.
In addition, you might view fall as a time where you can finally break free of sunscreen, but you have to stay vigilant. “UV exposure can sneak up on you during the fall. Plus, don’t forget that UVA rays penetrate window glass in cars and offices,” says Hollmig. A study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that, while the front windshield blocked 96 percent of UVA rays, the side window only blocked 71 percent (which, as researchers note, might play a role in the development of skin cancer and eye disease on one’s left side). UVA rays are those that cause wrinkles and discoloration, notes the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Switching from a sunscreen or a sunscreen-moisturizer to a powder with SPF is a great choice here, as it offers protection without causing breakouts, and sops up excess oil. Tarte Tarteguard Mineral Powder Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (Tartecosmetics.com) is one of the few powder formulations that has the recommended SPF 30. “The beauty of these products is that they can be typically applied right on top of makeup,” he says, adding that he suggests patients carry one in their purse and then reapply at lunch.