Trying to figure out when to put this fall transition skincare post up was like a nervous little girl trying to decide when to jump in during double dutch…lol. Summer was holding on for DEAR LIFE. But I decided now would be a pretty good time to start this convo since the weather has cooled down a bit in NYC. At least for now.
So the period when the seasons change can be a challenging time for your skin especially if you’re not taking heed of which products need to be switched out. Some people use the same skincare season after season, but I’m hoping if that’s you, that by the end of this post you’ll understand why and how that can cause unnecessary skincare issues.
Now of course this applies to those of you who have distinct seasons where you live. If you live in a tropical climate, you likely don’t have to make as many seasonal changes as those of us who live in the Northeast U.S. for example. And if you live where the temps are cold and very dry, you have to make some adjustments as well. But no matter where you live and what the climate is like there, you still want to periodically take an assessment of the products you’re using on your skin.
So here’s the best metaphor I could give so you understand the need for changing skincare products when the seasons change: you do it with your clothes! Typically in the summer you wear lighter, looser fabrics because it’s so hot. Then as fall starts to swing in, you’re adding layers and cozying up to sweaters because it’s getting chilly out BUT during early to mid fall you may not be as bundled up as you would be when it’s the middle of winter.
Think of changing your skincare routine the way you change your clothing each season.
And that concept of dressing is similar to what you do with your skincare. In the summer we tend to use lighter formulas especially when it comes to skincare products and as the weather cools during the fall, you’ll be switching some things out for slightly more hydrating formulas. And of course you will need to make sure you’re using products for your skin type and specific skincare needs. While everyone’s routine will differ because we have different skin types and different skincare needs, here’s a general guide to what you might need to switch out.
Fall Transition Skincare Guide
Some cleansers are good to go year-round particularly if you’re using a gentle one. If your cleanser is exfoliating and/or deep cleansing (i.e. a glycolic cleanser), you may want to lessen or discontinue usage. You don’t want to use a deep cleansing cleanser more than maybe 2-3 times a week if you have oily skin or 1-2 times a week if you have dry skin even when it’s warmer out, so be mindful of how often you’re using it when it gets colder out.
If you have dry skin, you may want to look into more hydrating cleansers. For oily skin it’s important to make sure you’re not drying out your skin with a harsh cleanser. Remember you want to BALANCE not obliterate your oil. Using a harsh cleanser as the weather starts to get chilly can dry out oily skin and when that happens, the skin produces even more oil to compensate. You can have dehydrated OILY skin. Oily skin producing even more oil than necessary can also be the gateway to additional skincare issues like acne and that acne can lead to dark spots.
And ya’ll better not be using rubbing alcohol on your skin either. I’m mad I even have to mention that but I have seen things on the internet that make me cringe…lol.
When picking out a cleanser, you’ll want to narrow your choices down based on your skin type and current skincare needs. A good daily cleanser shouldn’t make your skin feel stripped nor should it make it feel like you have residue still on your face. If you wear makeup, you might also want to look into double cleansing. Even if you don’t wear makeup, cleansing is still a very important part of your routine—things like dead skin, oil, free radicals, environmental damage, etc. still affect the skin.
TONERS: Because cleansers today aren’t as harsh as they were decades ago, not everyone is going to need a toner after cleansing. If you use one and it works out for you, I’m of course not going to tell you NOT to use one. But this time of year might lend more to the usage of a hydrating toner or softener for some people. And for some, the use of an essence (which is NOT a toner) may also be helpful. Also read The Difference Between Toner vs Essence vs Serum.
This is likely the biggest change in your fall skincare transition. All summer all you wanted to do was balance and maybe mattify your shine, but as fall brings cooler temps, you’ll want to have a good moisture balance. And finding a new moisturizer for the season might not require that much effort. The brand who makes your summer moisturizer might actually have one slightly more hydrating for the fall.
For example, I have oily skin and during the summer (or whenever the weather is summer-like), I use a mattifying moisturizer and then when the temps dip, I switch to something a little more hydrating and still suitable for my oily skin in fall temperatures.
There are tons of different formulas out there and the general rule is typically that you use a thinner lotion or gel for oily skin and a thicker cream for dry skin. There are always new innovations in skincare products as now you can get a very hydrating moisturizer in a very lightweight formula (i.e. bouncy moisturizers). Narrow things down based on your skin type and current skincare needs. And please know that EVERY SKIN TYPE NEEDS MOISTURIZER. Even oily skin.
Your daytime moisturizer should have an SPF of 15-30 or higher (please note that an SPF 30 does NOT have twice the protection of an SPF 15. An SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB rays while SPF 30 blocks about 97%). If your favorite moisturizer does not have SPF, make sure you apply sunscreen. You can read more about sunscreen and how to properly use it here.
You also want to moisturize at night (read why here) and your nighttime moisturizer will contain some ingredients that speak to your current skincare needs (i.e. vitamin C for brightening) and might be thicker in consistency than your daytime moisturizer.
Don’t forget about your neck and chest. Bring both your daytime and nighttime moisturizer down to your neck and chest as these areas need moisture, too.
Also please don’t forget about moisturizers for your under eye area (the eye area is delicate and different than the skin on the rest of your face, so yes in most cases an eye cream is necessary). Eye creams can only do but so much to treat things like wrinkles and dark circles, BUT YOU SHOULD STILL USE THEM BECAUSE THAT AREA NEEDS MOISTURE. Read more about eye creams here.
You might also need to pay special attention to your lips now. You can gently exfoliate them with a wet toothbrush or a lip scrub then follow that with a moisturizing lip balm.
In general, the skin’s self-renewal process tends to slow as the weather cools down. What this means is that generally the skin isn’t turning over as quickly (this also happens as we age) and things like dead skin cells accumulate on the skin’s surface causing the skin to look dull and uneven in texture. To counter this, regular exfoliation is key whether through a physical exfoliant like a gentle scrub or a chemical one like an acid (AHA, BHA, etc.). PLEASE DO NOT OVER EXFOLIATE YOUR SKIN. You may only need to exfoliate 1-2 times a week or every two weeks, but pay attention to your skin and exfoliate as needed.
Look at your treatment products like your serums, masks, acne products, anti-aging products, etc. to ensure you still need to use them through the fall. You might want to look at more hydrating treatment products as things like indoor heating and cold, dry air outside can make the skin even drier this time of year. Some of your treatment products might also be too drying for this time of year so either lessen or cease their usage. Or even go for a lower dosage when it comes to things like retinol or retinoids.
You might also want to invest in products that aren’t specifically skincare products like a humidifier which helps to add moisture in the air especially when you have the heat on. Also be cognizant of the type of fabrics you’re using on your skin—some can be drying and irritating to the skin. As much as I LOVE sequins, I have to limit them in my wardrobe because depending on where they are, they can scratch and irritate my skin. Wool is another fabric that can be tricky with the skin. Be sure to use satin or silk materials as barriers for your skin (and hair).
Facials can be out of the budget for some people, but if you can set aside some coins, when the seasons change is a really good time to get a facial and have a professional look at your skin and assess the type of products that you should add in your routine.
And after all of that, then here’s the kicker: one day it’s fall, the next it’s high summer. SMH. I have had to switch moisturizers a few times in the span of a week because there were so many temperature changes. Travel is also another factor that can elicit a change in your skincare routine especially if your destination has opposite weather than where you live. Bottom line? You gotta be on the case constantly when it comes to your skin.