Welcome to the pumpkin-spiciest season of all. A season when cashmere cardigans and booties are joyously pulled out from under-the-bed hibernation, a season when Insta feeds become inundated with artful snaps of feet in vibrant foliage, and a season when every last bit of moisture is sucked out of the air and, consequently, our skin.
In the same sense that we cycle into a new wardrobe, new shoes, and new beverages, we must also make adjustments to our skincare routine.
“As the season changes from summer to fall, the needs of our skin shifts, as well,” explained Dr. Kally Papantoniou, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. “The colder air and lower humidity levels can take a toll on skin. Skin can become dry and rough, which can flare conditions like eczema, and can make lines and wrinkles appear more prominent.”
Before clutching to your PSL in horror, know that you can maintain that healthy, summer-esque glow throughout the cold, blustery months. You’ve just got to make the right changes.
Start Off The Season With a Peel
Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas recommended having a professional peel done at the beginning of the season “to really start fall refreshed.” From there, you can then maintain that salon glow with your own at-home peel.
“I like both fruit acids and enzymatic peels,” she said. “Pumpkin is high in antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E. It is a natural source of enzymes to slough away dead skin, and a fantastic ingredient for a mask because it’s full of enzymes that will deliver a wonderful glow. It can be a real resurfacing treatment that takes away all of your imperfections.”
Vargas shared her own DIY Pumpkin Facial recipe. To recreate, combine 2 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin (canned is fine), ½ teaspoon of organic honey, and 1 teaspoon of organic Greek yogurt (fat free for oily skin). “This mask is a great source of natural antioxidants and retinoic acid, both to improve the look and feel of your skin.”
If you’d prefer to buy instead of DIY, try Peter Thomas Roth’s Pumpkin Enzyme Mask Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer ($58) or Lancer’s Caviar Lime Acid Peel ($90).
Put Your Clarisonic in Time Out
“I recommend washing with your hands only this time of year. Ditch any motorized cleansing brushes, buffs or wash cloths,” Dr. Papantoniou advised. “Washing with a device strips the outer layers of skin and can interfere with the ability to retain moisture.”
You should still exfoliate, but it’s best to do so only once or twice a week versus every single day throughout fall and winter. Dr. Papontiou added that for dry skin, you should also avoid AHA creams, toners, and exfoliation pads, which will unnecessarily strip your skin of its natural oils.
Switch to a Gentle, Oil-Based Cleanser
“I recommend that cleansers being used in the fall season be more gentle,” said Dr. Papantoniou. “Oil-based cleansers are great at cleansing and removing make-up without drying skin. After washing, skin feels smooth and moisturized.”
Puristry Nopal Cactus Cleanser ($29) is a great option. It contains bergamot, cedarwood bark, vetiver, orange, sage, and lavendar oils with extracts from honeysuckle, nopal cactus, and prickle pear. Another gentle oil-based cleanser is Origins Modern Friction Cleansing Oil With Radiance-Boosting White & Purple Rice ($29), which combines a plethora of natural oils from soybean, citrus peels, spearmint, bergamot, and rice.
Incorporate Oil into Your Skincare Routine
“If you have never tried using cosmetic oils as part of your skincare, this time of year is a great time to use it to protect the skin barrier,” said Dr. Papantonio. “Oils such as rose hip, argan, or virgin coconut oil work wonders to seal in moisture, and can help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
After cleansing and toning, apply a few drops of oil to your entire face, or target areas that are prone to dryness and wrinkling, including your eyes, forehead, and around your mouth. Try Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil ($90), Huxley Light & More Oil ($58), and The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($10).
Layer Like You Mean It
Just like you layer your outfits during fall, you should also layer your moisturizers. If you really want to commit, start with an oil-based cleanser followed by a hydrating toner, pre-serum or essence, serum, oil, and then a cream.
Ingredients to look for include avocado oil, which “contains so many amazing vitamins for the skin and lymphatic system, so it will depuff, hydrate and soothe the skin,” said Vargas; aloe vera, which “can be found as an ingredient in many skincare products and is excellent at hydrating skin,” said Dr. Papantoniou; and hyaluronic acid, which instantly plumps and hydrates.
We recommend the cleansers and oils mentioned in the above sections. For hydrating toners, try Fresh Peony Brightening Moisturizing Facial Toner ($60) and Murad Hydrating Toner ($30), which infuse extra moisture into the skin and won’t strip any natural oils. For pre-serums or essences, try Dior Prestige La Micro-Huile de Rose Pre-Serum ($260) or Tatcha The Essence Plumping Skin Softener ($90), which will help prepare your skin for the extra dose of moisture you’re about to layer on! For serums, try Lancome Advanced Génifique Sensitive Serum ($78) and ShiseidoFuture Solution LX Superior Radiance Serum ($225), and for creams try IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream ($48) and Algenist Regenerative Anti-Aging Ultra Rich Cream ($90).
At the end of the day, fall skincare is about taking a gentler approach to your regimen and incorporating new, or additional, products that focus on hydration above all else. Following this advice will help improve skin barrier function and give you a super hydrated, non-flaky, vibrant complexion.
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