With fall, you can expect cooler temps, shorter days and pumpkin and apple everything. The drop in humidity and cozy seasonal scents are much needed after months spent baking in the sun. Chances are, your skin took a beating during the summer but that doesn't mean it's in the clear come autumn. Fall comes with its own unique set of skin issues. Here, top beauty experts tell us how to deal with the most common fall skin care problems.
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All that UV exposure from your time spent at the beach accumulates on your face, causing sun damage. You may even notice dark spots or uneven skin tone now that it's fall. "Summer can take a toll on the skin—even though it’s good for the soul," says Mona Gohara, MD, Dove dermatologist. "I tell my patients to use an antioxidant serum to battle the free radicals in the skin you picked up from those beach days." Gohara is a big fan of vitamin C, as this ingredient helps with discoloration and evening out your complexion. Try Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, $80, which features an antioxidant complex of L-ascorbic vitamin C, ferulic acid and vitamin E.
And don't think you can get away with skipping sunscreen this season. Ann Balaguera, national director of esthetics for Red Door Spa, recommends sticking to your sun protection routine throughout the fall. "Just because summer is over doesn’t mean that the damaging rays of the sun are gone," says Balaguera. "Sunscreen is the number one anti-aging product that you can use. It helps to prevent future damage such as hyperpigmentation and fine lines." She advises using an SPF of at least 30 and likes Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-Aging Moisture Cream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, $129, because it has antioxidants, which protect against free radicals that can damage skin and cause aging.
If you notice that your skin is oilier in the summer and drier in the fall, there's a reason for that. "When temperatures shift from hot to cold, there’s a decrease in humidity, dependent upon the climate you live in," says Joshua Ross, celebrity aesthetician at SkinLab in West Hollywood. This drop in humidity means one thing: drier skin. "With the decrease in humidity, you need to increase your moisturization to avoid skin becoming dry and irritated," says Ross. "Include a boost of hydration, whether it’s adding an oil or a serum to pair with your moisturizer or changing to a more emollient night cream." Ross says this is a good time of year to use products made for sensitive skin since they can be soothing. Dermalogica UltraCalming Barrier Repair, $46, and Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer Sensitive Skin Ultra-Gentle Facial Moisturizer, $12.99, are good picks. If you experience irritation from strong ingredients like retinol, discontinue use for a few weeks, adds Ross.
For your body, Gohara recommends switching to a hydrating body wash, like Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash, $5.99. Then, follow up with a cream instead of a lotion, as this will provide more moisturization if you're experiencing dryness. Try Sol de Janeiro Acai Body Power Cream, $45, which is formulated with the antioxidant Amazonian acai oil.
And remember: When you're in the shower, turn the dial down and wash with lukewarm water. "While it might feel nice to take hot showers, this is doing your skin more harm than good because it’s dehydrating," says Monique Blake, director of body at Red Door Spas.
Flaky scalp just won't quit this fall? Blame the summer heat. "Because summer weather is hot and humid, it creates an environment that allows yeast to grow at high levels on the skin," notes Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. "This explains why dandruff flares up for many people during summer months." To get dandruff under control as you move into fall, use a shampoo with zinc pyrithione, such as Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo, $5.99. "The active ingredient helps reduce levels of yeast on the surface of the skin, which in turn reduces inflammation and treats flaking," says Zeichner.
Those bumps on the back of your arms, known as keratosis pilaris, can be exacerbated when the weather gets colder. Gohara explains that KP (also known as "chicken skin") is genetic and hard to cure for this reason. A light exfoliator, like Dove Exfoliating Body Polish, $5.99, can smooth the surface of skin, says Gohara. Zeichner adds that he often recommends patients use similar ingredients to treat keratosis pilaris as they would acne. "Salicylic acid is a go-to ingredient," says Zeichner. "It penetrates into the follicle and helps exfoliate dead cells that accumulate on the surface of the skin." Zeichner says Neutrogena Acne Proofing Daily Scrub, $7.49, is great for your arms and legs and it can also be used on your face.
Gohara says a tiny bit of retinol may help with KP, too. Lactic acid is another ingredient to look for if you notice chicken skin this fall, says Ross. He likes AmLactin Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion, $12.99, which contains 12 percent lactic acid. "Keep in mind that a lactic acid-based product will make you more susceptible to sun damage so you need to keep your skin protected," Ross says.