It’s easy to fall into the trap of never changing your skincare routine. After all, if it works, why mess with a good thing? But according to dermatologists, it’s beneficial to change up your skincare routine throughout the year with seasonally appropriate products. And with fall’s cooler weather kicking in, now’s an important time to make some switches.
Why is this time crucial? “Cold, dry, and windy weather with little humidity leaves our facial skin in particular exposed to the elements,” London-based dermatologist Anjali Mahto tells InStyle. This is why dry, sensitive, and irritated skin is so prevalent in chiller months. “This is compounded by the fact that we put on the central heating, which dries the skin out further, as well as hot baths and showers, which will strip moisture from the skin,” she adds.
Since there are so many skincare products on the market, we asked four dermatologists to share what they would add to a skincare routine for fall so that you don’t have to spend hours searching. Shop their recommendations starting at just $6 below.
Dr. Joshua Zeichner, New York-City Based Dermatologist and Mohs Surgeon
“As the weather drops in the fall, I recommend adjusting your skincare routine just as you would your wardrobe,” Dr. Zeichner advises. He says to prioritize products with hydration and protection, especially in cleansers and moisturizers.
“In the summer, foaming or exfoliating cleansers are a great option to help remove oil that builds up on the skin. [But] these cleansers may overly dry out the skin in cooler weather. I recommend hydrating cleansers that leave the skin barrier hydrated and intact,” he specifies.
Dr. Zeichner also recommends adding hyaluronic acid into your routine to combat dry skin. He explains that hyaluronic acid is like a sponge that pulls in water to the skin’s outer layer. “It’s good at getting water where it needs to go, but not as good at keeping it there. So you should layer your hyaluronic acid serum under your moisturizer” to keep hydration locked in.
RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules, 10 Count
These night capsules contain a high concentration of hyaluronic acid, Dr. Zeichner says.
“I recommend applying it with damp fingers or to a damp face to give it the water it needs to work optimally.”
Shop now: $7 (Originally $13); amazon.com
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Face Moisturizer
“Olay Regenerist micro-sculpting cream delivers niacinamide and peptides to soothe and calm the skin. Glycerin and panthenol offer protecting benefits.”
Shop now: $47; amazon.com
Bliss Block Star Daily Facial Sunscreen
Don’t forget to use SPF every day, even if it gets dark at 5 p.m. This mineral formula melts into your skin without leaving a white cast behind. “I like mineral sunscreens in the fall because zinc-oxide not only blocks UV light but also offers skin protecting effects,” Dr. Zeichner explains.
Shop now: $22; amazon.com
Vaseline 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly Skin Protectant, 3 Count
Vaseline isn’t a new beauty product by any means, but it still has one of the best moisturizing formulas, according to this dermatologist. “Vaseline petroleum jelly is the ultimate multitasker in skincare,” Dr. Zeichner says. “It is great not only for dry lips, but also fingers, eyelids, and even elbows.”
Shop now: $10 for three (Originally $15); amazon.com
Lanolips Rose Hand Cream
This moisturizing hand cream contains lanolin, which Dr. Zeichner says “is a natural compound derived from sheep’s wool, which helps protect, soften and hydrate the skin.”
Shop now: $15; ulta.com
Dr. Shereene Idriss, Board-Certified Dermatologist at Idriss Dermatology
Dr. Idriss agrees that fall is the best time to up your skincare game. “As the sun’s intensity begins to decline, we can become more adventurous in trying out new skincare ingredients,” she explains” For instance, fall is the time to start retinol if you have not yet introduced one into your routine.” Since you probably don’t have the heat on in your home all the time just yet and cold temperatures haven’t completely set in, Dr. Idriss notes that the air quality is not as dry, making it the perfect time for your skin to adjust to retinol.
If you are switching your skincare routine, the order in which you apply the products matters when it comes to seeing visible results, and Dr. Idriss recommends applying your products from thinnest to the thicket to seal in moisture. Additionally, “after cleansing, the next step is to introduce a chemical exfoliant (like an enzyme peel) a few times a week into your nightly routine. It’s important to do this at night in order to clear the build-up of the day off your face and present a fresh base for your skincare products to follow,” she says. Then follow that with a water-based serum, eye cream, and a moisturizer to lock in hydration.
No7 Advanced Retinol 1.5% Complex Night Concentrate
“Despite the name, it is actually a relatively gentle retinol to start with as it only contains retinol at 0.3 percent. If you’re nervous, I recommend you use this product on the nights you skip the chemical exfoliation in order to minimize any form of irritation,” Dr. Idriss says.
Shop now: $42; ulta.com
Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Body Cream
In an about-face from Dr. Zeichner’s advice, Dr. Idriss urges you to forget Vaseline and Aquaphor and try this celebrity-loved brand instead. “I recommend using this on dry and chapped lips (as long as you’re not somebody who has extremely sensitive skin because this does contain essential oils.)”
Shop now: $13 (Originally $19); amazon.com
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5
According to Dr. Idriss, this La Roche-Posay balm is “a must.” It’s not only a great moisturizer, but also a “skin savior” that soothes and heals dry and cracked skin with ingredients like shea butter and glycerin.
Shop now: $15; amazon.com
Dr. Adeline Kikam, Board-Certified Dermatologist and Founder of @brownskinderm
Perhaps the most important skincare swap to make this fall is the one to a heavier moisturizer. “Lock in much-needed moisture with cooler weather by switching from lighter moisturizers to thicker ones,” Dr. Kikam explains.
And if your routine incorporates exfoliation, consider cutting it down. It’s fine to exfoliate to prep skin so that it absorbs your products efficiently, however, Dr. Kikam warns not to over-exfoliate, which causes the skin to lose moisture. “Excessive exfoliation can lead to damaged skin barrier and loss of moisture,” she says.
AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion
Dr. Kikam suggests this formula for all-over hydration. “Lactic acid, the main ingredient in the lotion, helps stimulate ceramide production, which are lipids essential to a healthy moisture barrier,” she says.
Shop now: $13 (Originally $16); amazon.com
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
Dr. Kikam says to “switch to more gentle cleansers that don’t strip skin of moisture. Remember, we are all about moisture retention in the fall and beyond.” She recommends this one from CeraVe, which also contains those ceramides mentioned above.
Shop now: $12 (Originally $14); amazon.com
Tizo Photoceutical AM Replenish Lightly Tinted Mineral SunscreenSPF 40
No skincare routine is complete without SPF, even in colder months, and she’s particularly a fan of this tinted mineral formula that offers ceramides and vitamins C and E. “Even though the sun may not seem as intense during the fall as in the summer, UVA can penetrate through clouds and windows all year round,” Dr. Kikam notes.
Shop now: $50; amazon.com
Dr. Anjali Mahto, London-Based Dermatologist and Author of “The Skincare Bible”
Dr. Mahto recommends a few quick and easy swaps to make your routine more efficient for chillier temperatures. “As skin tends to be more dry in the winter months for many people, reducing the strength of some active agents could be of benefit,” she says. For example, if you are using a glycolic acid toner, she suggests using one that contains polyhydroxy acid instead. PHAs are a type of less-intense chemical exfoliant that can also offer hydration benefits, and they often lead to “less irritation in those with vulnerable skin.”.
Aside from adjusting your skincare routine, be sure to keep up with seeing your provider. “Winter is usually the busiest time of year for me in clinic to be treating issues of pigmentation, aging, or scarring,” Dr. Mahto says. “Treatments like chemical peels and laser are best carried out at this time of year (I always recommend October to March) as there is little sunlight around and the skin is less vulnerable to complications such as pigmentation or burning after these types of treatment.”
Medik8 Press & Glow Daily Exfoliating PHA Tonic
Toners can be another source of hydration in cooler months, and this one from Medik8 incorporates vitamin C and PHAs to brighten and deeply hydrate the skin. The toner provides ”gentle exfoliation without stripping skin,” according to Dr. Mahto.
Shop now: $26; spacenk.com
Cerave Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Dr. Mahto says that this hydrating serum can be layered under regular moisturizer for those with seasonally dry skin. It has a lightweight, gel-like texture that absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave a greasy feeling behind. It also locks moisture into the skin all day, which helps to maintain a healthy skin barrier.
Shop now: $13 (Originally $17); amazon.com
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
Don’t forget about your hands this fall. Dr. Mahto recommends this hand cream to prevent cracked and dry skin. The cream has moisturizing glycerin, which pulls water from the deepest layers of skin to hydrate the outer ones.
Shop now: $24 for six (Originally $31); amazon.com