Tips For Transitioning Skincare From Summer to Fall

Monday September 4, 2023
Tips For Transitioning Skincare From Summer to Fall

As we transition from summer to fall, do you really need to swap out your whole skincare routine and buy all new products? Despite what you might read or hear online, the answer is NO!

If you take a thoughtful, strategic approach to your skincare routine, and really understand why your skin’s needs change in the fall, you can, and SHOULD keep your favorite products in your routine. You can simply tweak how you use and layer with them. In this post I’ll break down 4 tips to transition your skincare into the fall season.

First, some context. As we transition to fall:

  • The air becomes more dry, and that makes the skin more prone to dehydration. Dehydrated skin can appear dull, rough, or feel tight and you can see more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles.

  • Our tan fades, revealing uneven tone and dark spots that inevitably were exacerbated during the summer months. It’s ok! It’s not your fault, it happens even if you wore sunscreen and a hat almost every single day.

  • As humidity goes down, and stress levels go up, some of us are more prone to breakouts.

  • We spend less time outdoors in direct sunlight. This doesn’t mean you should skip sunscreen, but it DOES mean we have a little room to push our retinoids. More on that below.

  • It’s tempting to go into hydration mode as the climate around us gets more dry. People around this time tend to load on a bunch of barrier repairing serums and moisturizers, and start to avoid active ingredients that might further dry out or irritate the skin. This is a hugely missed opportunity. You can absolutely still incorporate your skincare actives, and can even increase your use of certain actives—you just want to be smart about it. We go into this below as well.

Now for those 4 dermatologist tips on how to adjust the use of your current skincare products for fall:

Tip 1: Vitamin C Serum:

A good vitamin C serum should be a staple all year round, but you may switch up the order you layer it in your skincare routine. In the summer, if it’s really humid and your vitamin C product is nourishing enough—such as Asta C Vitamin C Age Defense Serum—you can often layer your vitamin C serum and then skip right to sunscreen. In the fall, however, I highly recommend adding extra layers to your routine. Make sure to apply a clinically-proven moisturizer—such as Bowe Glowe Microbiome Nourishing Cream—after you put on your vitamin C serum, but before applying your sunscreen. So a very basic AM routine looks like this: cleanse, vitamin C serum, moisturizer, sunscreen.

Tip 2: Layering Extra Products:

In the summer, I try to keep my routine very streamlined, but in the fall, your skin can benefit from adding more layers. You might consider adding a peptide serum, a brightening serum, or even both to your routine depending on whether your skin can tolerate them. You can also certainly benefit from an extra, nourishing layer on top of your daily moisturizer both in the AM and the PM in the form of a recovery balm, or what I like to call a "finishing cream" or “top coat”. So yes, adding extra layers is a great way to add hydration and moisture as the air gets drier. Just make sure those layers are soothing, hydrating, won’t break you out, and are designed to support and protect a more fragile skin barrier.

Tip 3: Leveling Up Your Use of Retinoids at Night:

In my opinion, fall is the perfect time to level UP your skincare game to reverse the sun damage that inevitably happens over the summer. One way to level up is to increase your retinoid nights. I call this Advanced Skin Cycling. But, whether you Skin Cycle or not, because we are generally in the sun less during fall, it's a good time to explore bumping up how many nights a week you use your retinoid. Just make sure you’re listening to your skin. If it’s starting to feel irritated, pull back on your retinoid nights and / or add in an additional recovery night.

Tip 4: Hold Steady On Exfoliation Nights:

In terms of exfoliating, you can absolutely still exfoliate, but you want to keep a few things in mind. First, I generally recommend holding steady in the fall when it comes to the amount of times you exfoliate. It might be tempting to see those dark spots and want to add extra exfoliation nights to help them fade even more quickly, but I don’t recommend doing that for most skin types. Why? As we transition into fall, the air gets more dry and our skin barrier is a bit more vulnerable. You can still exfoliate of course, but we’ll cover a few tips to ensure that exfoliation works in your favor and doesn’t leave you tight, dry or irritated.

A caveat before we dive in here: if you are someone with oily, acne prone skin, you might very well be able to tolerate a salicylic acid toner every single morning. Here, I’m talking more about exfoliating products designed to target dark spots, dull skin, rough texture, and fine lines even in mature, sensitive skin. For example, Exfoliation Night Resurfacing + Brightening Serum.

Exfoliation during fall months:

  • Use exfoliating acids instead of a scrub

  • Avoid exfoliating pads or wipes that might further irritate or dry out your skin

  • Avoid exfoliating products that also list drying alcohols, like alcohol denat as one of the top ingredients

  • Use a more hydrating, nourishing exfoliating serum rather than a watery one

  • Try to avoid fragrances, especially if you have sensitive skin

These tips should help you transition your skincare in an effective, streamlined, more sustainable way. A lot changes in the fall, but your entire skincare shelf shouldn’t have to!

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