7 Ways You Should Switch Up Your Skincare Routine for Fall

Once you’ve figured out your skin type and determined how to solve your skin concerns, you’ve probably formulated a skincare routine that works well for you. You likely have a favorite moisturizer, and you’ve probably chosen a serum that does a good job of addressing your biggest skincare issues. But did you know that your skincare routine should change based on the season?

In fact, your skin’s needs change with the weather. The most obvious example? While you may only need a light moisturizer in the summer, it’s likely that you’ll need to switch to something a little more powerful when the weather gets cold and the wind picks up. Need some other pointers on how you can make sure that your beauty regimen is updated for the season? Read on to check out the products you should switch out when the weather starts turning cold.

1. Choose a different cleanser

young woman with clear complexion in the bathroom

Your cleanser is the perfect place to start when updating your skincare regimen for the fall | iStock.com

During the summer, your priorities for cleansing are pretty straightforward. You likely default to a cleanser that lathers or foams, and gives you the sense that you’re washing off the day’s dirt and oil pretty thoroughly. But as the weather turns colder, esthetician Renée Rouleau recommends switching to a non-drying, sulfate-free gel cleanser for morning use, and a lotion-based cleanser at night. The idea is to choose a gentle formula that won’t make your skin any drier than it already is.

2. Switch out your moisturizer

Man caring for his skin

The moisturizer you use in the summer may not be hydrating enough for the fall | iStock.com

A gel moisturizer or another light formula is perfect for summer, when your skin is probably a little bit oilier than it is during the cold months of the year. But once the summer draws to a close, it’s a good idea to reach for a thicker moisturizer, which will be better equipped to deal with the effects of cold weather, wind, and even the drying heating system at your office. Rouleau recommends switching from gel to lotion, or switching from an oil-free formula to a more hydrating product. If you’re using a cream, consider switching to something with a thicker consistency, or even reaching for an oil instead.

3. Choose a gentle exfoliator

Woman looking in the mirror

Exfoliating with a scrub works in the summer, but you should probably choose a chemical exfoliant in the fall | iStock.com/chachamal

Scrubs are great in the summer, when you want a satisfying way to wash off all the sunscreen, sweat, and sand. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to stop exfoliating in the fall, even if your skin gets drier. Swap out your rough scrub, which is a physical exfoliator, for a chemical exfoliant like a leave-on AHA or BHA lotion. Continuing to exfoliate regularly will help slough off flakes and dead skin cells. That’s important because when the weather gets cold, you may end up with layers of dead skin that trap oil and bacteria beneath the surface of your skin. Exfoliating is important to prevent breakouts, even when your skin is drier overall than it was during the summer.

4. Switch out your masks

If you're accustomed to using a mattifying mask in the summer, switch it out for a more hydrating one in the fall

If you’re accustomed to using a mattifying mask in the summer, switch it out for a more hydrating one in the fall | iStock.com

Mattifying and oil-absorbing masks are a popular skincare step in the summer. They can make the unbearable heat and 24/7 sweating feel a little bit more bearable. But when the temperatures drop, swap those mattifying masks for something more hydrating. Depending on your particular skincare concerns, you should look for one that’s formulated to combat dryness, soothe redness, and plump up dehydrated skin.

5. Don’t forget about sun protection

young woman applying face cream

Colder weather isn’t a good excuse to ditch the SPF | iStock.com/LuminaStock

SPF is probably an important part of your skincare regimen in the summer. But the sun can do just as much damage to your skin in the fall as it can in the summer. You may not want to continue using your summer sunscreen once the weather gets cold, but make sure that you’re either continuing to use a dedicated sunscreen or that your daily moisturizer has sun protection built in.

6. Lighten sun spots and freckles

If you slacked off on sun protection over the summer, you may want to use retinol to lighten sun spots and freckles

If you slacked off on sun protection over the summer, you may want to use retinol to lighten sun spots and freckles | iStock.com

Plenty of people stop using retinol in the summer, since retinol products make your skin a lot more likely to burn in the sun. But fall is the perfect time to add retinol back into your routine, since it’s the perfect ingredient to lighten any sun spots and freckles that appeared over the summer. When you’re using retinol, it’s especially important to keep protecting your skin from the sun (which is another reason why you should find a product with SPF that addresses your skin’s needs in cooler weather).

7. Ask a dermatologist for help

face close-up of beautiful young ethnic woman

If you’re not sure about how to deal with your skin, it doesn’t hurt to ask a dermatologist | iStock.com/Jean-philippe WALLET

If your skin is pretty easy to take care of, you can probably adjust your routine just by visiting your local Sephora or doing some research for good products online. But if you have some more pervasive skincare concerns, it’s a great idea to consult your dermatologist for advice. Especially if you’re already using products that were prescribed or recommended by a dermatologist, it never hurts to ask about how you should change your regimen for the season.