After an incessantly hot summer, you will be forgiven for welcoming autumn with open arms. But with the promise of cozy evenings and a chance to enjoy hot drinks again comes a number of skin complaints.
The combination of cold and harsh central heating can make skin tight, dry and sensitive. The light serums you rely on for happy, healthy skin may soon not cut it. Then there are ingredients like retinol and exfoliating acids, which tend not to get along well with dry skin.
However, it is not necessary to replace all products. Upfront, consultant dermatologist Dr Alia Ahmed reveals the expert fall skincare tips she shares with her patients, mostly making use of what you may already have at home.
Think back to your cleaning routine
Dr. Ahmed is not a fan of foamy cleansers. “The added ingredients that make them beautiful and foamy are usually the ones that end up removing some of the natural oils on the skin,” he says. As a result, Dr. Ahmed prefers to switch to a creamy cleanser to prevent the skin from drying out further. If you’re on a tight budget, he suggests mixing the foaming cleanser you already have with some moisturizer (the simpler, the better), which can help ease the feeling of exhaustion and tension.
When you reach the end of your existing cleanser, try Dove DermaSeries Hydrating Facial Cleanser, £ 9.50, Super Facialist Rose Hydrate Calming Creamy Cleanser, £ 9, or CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid for normal to dry skin, £ 10, which are nourishing and gentle but quickly cuts makeup and SPF.
There is a school of thought that cleaning the skin in the morning is unnecessary as it leads to even drier skin. Dr. Ahmed disagrees. “Effective cleansing is very important because you need to think about products that are absorbed into the skin later,” such as serums and moisturizers. “I’ve heard so often that patients use water in the fall and winter because their skin is dry, or that they only clean in the evening because that’s after they put on their makeup. But you have to cleanse yourself in the morning because of all the sweat, dirt, grime and stuff on the pillowcase you pick up overnight. Again, a mild, creamy cleanser won’t soil the skin.
Listen to your skin barrier
Your skin barrier changes over time, says Dr. Ahmed, who advises against having the exact same skincare routine throughout the year. But there is only a simple switch. “Where a serum [for example containing vitamin C or hyaluronic acid] may have done the job for you in the summer, you may want to use the same ingredient in moisturizer form in the fall and winter, “says Dr. Ahmed. The serums have a very light texture and Dr. Ahmed suggests they may not be enough substantial to moisturize the skin when the weather dries.
If you use vitamin C in the morning, look for the ingredient in a slightly denser, more moisturizing product. Try Ole Henriksen C-Rush Brightening Double Crème, £ 37, Face Theory Amil-C Whip M5 SPF 30, £ 19.99, or Bliss Bright Idea Vitamin C + Tri-Peptide Moisturizer, £ 19.95, which all contain Vitamin C to protect your skin again by mitigating environmental factors such as pollution. Follow with sunscreen for additional hydration and protection.
Similarly, you could just follow the serum you already have with a moisturizing sunscreen (a better option if your skin tends to get oily or clogged when applying skin care in layers). Rates R29 Bondi Sands Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ Fragrance Free, £ 7.99 and Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen, £ 31.
Change your pillowcase and towels regularly
She’s been sweaty this summer, so if you’ve been diligent in changing your bedding, hats off to you. Don’t waste time now. Dr. Ahmed suggests that, in addition to a dedicated cleaning routine, changing the pillowcase every two to three days (and washing your face or bath towel regularly) is a must to keep the skin barrier happy. How come? You’ll likely want to avoid treating autumn and winter sensitive skin breakouts as typical anti-blemish ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can further irritate and exacerbate dry skin.
Look for a moisturizer with these key ingredients
Dr. Ahmed says many of her patients tend to think that hyaluronic acid – a deeply moisturizing, moisture-retaining ingredient – is best for protecting skin in the colder autumn weather. But we already have this ingredient in our skin of course, she says. When the temperature drops, Dr. Ahmed suggests reinforcing your skincare routine with a moisturizer containing niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3). Niacinamide not only prevents excess sebum, but also minimizes water loss (reducing dryness and irritation).
Ceramides, the fats that hold skin together, are also a great shout out if your face tends to turn red and scaly. Try The Inkey List Omega Water Cream Moisturizer, £ 9.99, The Nue Co. Barrier Culture Moisturiser, £ 45 or Byoma Moisturizing Gel Cream, £ 11.99, which all combine niacinamide and ceramides.
Buffer active ingredients, such as retinol and exfoliating acids
Ingredients such as retinol (which promotes the shine of new skin cells, minimizing hyperpigmentation, fine lines and rashes) and exfoliating acids (such as glycolic, salicylic and lactic acids) can be aggressive if overused . If your skin is already dry due to the cooler weather, using both could make dry skin worse. For fall and winter, especially if your skin is easily aggravated, Dr. Ahmed suggests applying your moisturizer (it should be something quite bland and simple) 30 minutes before products containing these active ingredients, to create a thin barrier. You will still have the desired effects, but not the irritation.
Wear sunscreen (regardless of the weather)
Dr Ahmed believes it is essential to wear sunscreen all year round, particularly now that climate change is such a serious problem. “We are exposed to much more intense rays than ever,” says Dr. Ahmed, who cites a study from the American Academy of Dermatology that emphasizes the importance of sun protection. “Climate change is causing more sun damage and skin conditions when driving,” says Dr. Ahmed. “I tell my patients that if they can see in front of them, it means they have to wear SPF, unless it’s night in a dark room with the door closed.” Neither the weather nor the color of your skin matters – sunscreen is great year-round sun protection.
Introduce antioxidants into your skincare routine
Antioxidants fight things that the skin is exposed to on the outside, such as pollution (of which there is a higher level in the colder months). Look for moisturizers that contain vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid. Dr. Ahmed also evaluates leontopodic acid, an under-the-radar antioxidant found in The Body Shop’s new Edelweiss collection. If you are looking for a more nourishing and protective moisturizer, try the Smoothing Day Cream, £ 28.
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