When seasons change, it can have a dramatic effect on your skin. Extreme shifts in weather — both hot and cold — can irritate your skin, making existing skin conditions worse and causing new ones to surface. Fall weather, though much less harsh than winter in many parts of the country, is often dynamic and unpredictable.
Generally, fall begins with pleasant temperatures, bringing people outside for festivals and sporting events, and then ushers in colder weather. This colder weather — combined with the increased use of central heating inside — draws moisture from the air and also from your skin. These temperature changes don’t just require a new wardrobe; they also require some new daily skin care practices.
“As temperatures change with the seasons, so should our skincare products and everyday habits,” says Dr. Kathryn “Celeste” Durham, a board-certified dermatologist with U.S. Dermatology Partners Fort Worth South Hulen. “Steps you take during the fall to protect and moisturize your skin will help prepare skin for the harsher winter months.”
Learn how to enjoy some of the year’s best weather while protecting your skin with these fall skin care tips:
#1: Avoid long, hot showers and soaks in the tub.
As cooler temperatures roll in, skin typically becomes drier, causing it to become red, cracked and itchy. Skin conditions such as eczema can also intensify in cooler, dry weather. Avoid long periods of time in hot baths and showers, which can dry out your skin and cause more redness and cracking. Bathe in lukewarm water instead and moisturize immediately afterward to help seal in moisture.
#2: Use a moisturizer daily.
Fall weather is generally less humid than the summer, which can strip the natural moisture from your skin. The result can be dry, flaky skin during these months, even if you don’t suffer from dry skin during the rest of the year. Using a daily moisturizer that is more nourishing than what you use during summer months can help hydrate and soothe dry skin. Oil-based moisturizers are generally better at helping your skin retain moisture than water-based products.
#3: Use a mild soap.
Dry, flaky skin can ultimately lead to an excess of dead skin cells that can clog your pores and cause acne to develop or worsen. Sometimes, the use of thicker, more intense moisturizers and lotions can also contribute to acne. Make sure to wash your face twice a day with a mild soap that won’t further dry your skin.
#4: Wear a high-SPF sunscreen every day.
Sun damage is a year-round concern. Damaging UV rays are the predominant cause of skin cancer and premature aging. Even when it doesn’t feel hot outside, the sun is still just as intense as it is during the summer. Always wear sunscreen — even if it’s cooler outside.
#5: Use a humidifier.
Temperatures don’t just change outside during the autumn months; the conditions inside your home and office also change. Central heating systems kick on for the first time in months, which draws the humidity from the inside air and from the surface of your skin. Humidifiers work to add moisture back to both.
As dead skin cells build up on dry skin, they can form a barrier that makes it even more difficult to moisturize your skin. Regularly using an exfoliating mask on your face and hands, followed immediately with a moisturizer, can help skin look and feel smoother.
#7: Use a thick hand cream.
Not only are your hands drier in cooler temperatures, but fall is also flu season, so hand washing is on the rise. This repeated washing and drying of your hands can leave your skin even drier throughout the day and can ultimately lead to calluses and cracks. After washing your hands, use a thick moisturizing cream to build a barrier on your skin that will help your hands retain moisture.
#8: Moisturize feet and elbows at night.
In addition to daily hand and face moisturizing, it is also important to moisturize your feet and elbows. These thin-skinned areas lose moisture fast. Use a thick, deep cream or lotion overnight on these parts of your body, as well as on your hands. To really seal in the moisture, wear cotton gloves and socks after applying the moisturizer.
#9: Remember to eat healthy.
Some of fall’s most enjoyable traditions can lead to some very unhealthy eating habits. Tailgating, trick-or-treating and other holiday celebrating can lead to a sharp increase in processed foods such as bread, casseroles, hot dogs, chips and sugary treats. Foods high in refined carbs and those with a high glycemic index can cause sugars and hormones to spike, which can make acne and other skin conditions worse. Also, remember to drink plenty of water!
#10: Dress for the elements.
As the weather becomes colder, long sleeves, scarves, and gloves can help protect your skin from drying elements. Remember that even in cooler temperatures, the sun is still dangerous. Wearing sun-protective clothing blocks damaging UV rays and protects your skin. Generally, polyester, nylon, wool, silk, and denim provide the most UV blockage, and darker-colored fabrics absorb more UV rays than lighter colors.