With fall in full swing (we see you, PSL), it’s time to talk skin. Autumn brings cooler weather (sweater weather!) and a drop in humidity, which makes for dry, stale air and even drier skin. “Mix this with dry heat from radiators, and it’s a setup for skin disasters like eczema and dry, itchy skin,” says Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
That said, PSL season is also a perfect time to reassess your go-to skin-care routine. And, in general, it’s always good to approach skin care seasonally, just like you do your wardrobe. “As the seasons change, so should your skin care,” explains Connecticut-based board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara. “It’s minor tweaks that can make a major difference.”
To avoid the itch fest, here are the five top tips from dermatologists to thwart autumnal skin-related freak-outs.
Try a thicker moisturizer
Say goodbye to the lightweight, oil-free moisturizer you’ve been slathering on all summer. It’s time to bulk up with a heftier hydrator, says Marchbein. She recommends a heavy cream made with ceramides, which are the “essential and healthy fatty acids that occur naturally in the skin but need to be replenished during the colder months.”
Those ceramides, as fellow New York City board-certified dermatologist Sejal Shah once told Allure, are especially crucial because they serve as a support system for your skin barrier. “When the skin lacks ceramides, the barrier becomes compromised, resulting in dryness and irritation,” she previously explained. Hence, depleted ceramides can lead to that pesky eczema Marchbien warns against.
Adding an extra layer of hydration to your routine is another great way to prevent skin dehydration, Gohara adds. “As chill settles in, water heads out for a host of reasons,” she explains. “You layer clothes as it gets colder; you should layer on hydration, too.” Her recommendation is to add a hyaluronic acid-based serum or sheet mask to your skin-care routine alongside a heftier moisturizer. (The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a perfect and affordable starting point for HA newbies.)
Marchbein’s top pick? CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream, which is also packed with moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid. If you ask us, however, we’d recommend the Best of Beauty-winning First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream.
Add a body lotion to the mix
When summer humidity ends, the skin may start to feel dry and itchy, as there is much less moisture in the air to help hydrate, says Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
The easiest way to stop the itch? By loading up on hydration — from head to toe. “Moisturizers provide a protective barrier over the skin, allowing it to retain hydration and draw in hydration to the outer skin layer,” he says. We like the Best of Beauty-winning H2O+ Beauty Milk Body Butter and La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+ Body Cream, which is packed with the same type of ceramides mentioned earlier.
Cut back on exfoliating
As the weather gets colder, it’s best to cut back on robust ingredients, like retinoids and glycolic acid, says Elizabeth Tanzi, associate clinical professor of the department of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Exfoliation, in general, is a tricky subject because it’s very easy to overdo it, chilly wheather or not. “[Over-exfoliation can] create tiny cracks in the skin barrier that lead to more loss of hydration and inflammation,” Zeichner previously explained to us.
You’ll know if you’re going too hard on your skin if it’s perpetually inflamed, irritated, itchy, or even straight-up in pain. To avoid that, Tanzi recommends using glycolic treatment pads (like the alpha hydroxy acid-packed Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel) or a mask (like Biossance’s Squalane and Glycolic Renewal Mask) no more than once a week to help remove discoloration brought on by the summer sun.
Invest in a humidifier
The dry heat from your home, apartment, or office serves another threat to your skin barrier. “Low humidity levels degrade the skin’s natural moisture barrier, which can lead to flaking, cracking, and peeling,” New York City board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman previously explained to Allure.
Thankfully, you can boost the hydration in your home by adding your own moisturizer to the mix with the help of a humidifier, says Tanzi. A couple of our favorite skin-friendly humidifiers are the Dyson Humidifer and Hey Dewy’s Portable Humidifier (great for desks, travel, and tiny apartments). Turn it on as soon as you put the heat on for best results.
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