It’s that time of year — the days are shorter, the weather is cooler and unlike in summer where our skin has the perfect sunny glow, it’s now not quite as vibrant. As a result of decreased humidity in low temperatures and the drying effects of indoor heat, our skin becomes seriously dehydrated. But before you panic, know that the changing weather doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your complexion. With a little preparation, a slight skincare routine adjustment and a lot of hydration, you can say goodbye to flakiness and frustration for good.
“It’s helpful to use certain ingredients on your skin depending on the season,” says celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, whose star clientele includes Emma Roberts, Demi Lovato and Jessica Simpson. “I personally like to change up two to three products in my skincare routine every season. This is a well-rounded approach I find beneficial.” Here, Rouleau shares eight tips to keep your skin soft and radiant all season long.
1. Re-Evaluate Your Current Routine
In the summer, the spotlight is on sun protection and oil control, but once the cold air hits, it’s important to focus on added moisture and hydration, since the changing temperatures can lead to depleted skin. In other words: It might be time to push those lightweight products to the side. Rouleau explains that it’s important to really listen to your skin. Does your skin feel tight? Is it dry and flaky? Is your skin producing more oil than normal? “If your go-to products aren’t working anymore, your skin will let you know,” she adds.
2. Opt for a Creamier Cleanser
The colder weather can most definitely dry out the skin, so now is a good time to switch to a more moisturizing cleanser that will help retain the skin’s natural oils instead of stripping them away. “I cannot stress enough the importance of not only washing your skin morning and night, but also using a cleanser that will not dry the skin and cause damage,” explains Rouleau. Many foaming and gel cleansers on the market are formulated with surfactants (like sodium or ammonium lauryl sulfate), a harsh cleansing agent that cuts oil from the skin. Surfactants not only leave the skin feeling tight, but they also ultimately create more oil and shine. “What you wash with is the most important part of your skin care routine,” adds the celebrity skin guru. “Why? Because if you wash with a foaming cleanser or soap that is too drying, it pulls all the water out of the skin and creates dead, dry skin cell buildup. Then you have to quickly run and put your moisturizer on to put back in what you just took out.” When purchasing a cold-weather cleanser, look for creamier, gentle, non-comedogenic products that are free of harsh ingredients. And if you’re following up your cleanser with a toner, use a hydrating, alcohol-free one that will help balance the skin’s pH level.
PRODUCT PICK: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($38)
3. Slough Off Dead Skin
The sun, chlorine and saltwater from summer can actually lead to a skin hangover (think: a dull and lackluster complexion), as these elements can dry out the skin big time. On top of that, when the air is cold outside and the heat is on inside, your skin will further be depleted of its natural moisture. When this happens, people tend to load on extra moisturizer to compensate for the dehydration, but Rouleau says this will not always solve the problem. “If your skin is parched, tight and flakey, it means that you have dry skin cell build-up on the surface of the skin,” she says. “So rather than loading on cream to re-hydrate dry skin cells, increase your exfoliation to remove dryness.” Use gentle exfoliating products – those with tiny, round beads – so you don’t damage the surface of your skin. You should also refrain from using an exfoliating product with beads along with a cleansing brush like a Clarisonic, as it is too harsh on the skin.
PRODUCT PICK: Osmia Organics Protein Exfoliating Mask ($40)
4. Add More Moisture
When the temperatures start to drop, your skin will be begging for more moisture. And chances are, that lightweight moisturizer you used in the spring and summer months just won’t cut it. “It’s important to apply something a little heavier to prevent moisture loss,” explains Rouleau. “If you’re using a gel moisturizer, considering switching to an oil-free lotion. If you’re using an oil-free lotion, consider changing to a richer lotion. If you’re using a cream, consider changing to something with a thicker consistency with ceramides or lipid rich oils. But of course, only make a change if you feel your skin could benefit from it.” For those with naturally dry skin, the star esthetician recommends looking for moisturizers that contain barrier-repairing ingredients like cranberry oil, safflower oil and jojoba oil. For oily or combination skin, choose oil-free moisturizers that will help mattify the skin and keep it hydrated.
PRODUCT PICK: CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM ($15)
5. Start Using Serum — Stat!
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sometimes the dry-skin basics (i.e. switching up your cleanser and moisturizer) might not be enough to cure your cracked complexion. Luckily, a serum can help solve your cold-weather skin woes. “Applying moisturizer consistently is important; however, when your skin craves more hydration, the answer is not adding on extra layers of moisturizer,” spills Rouleau. “The solution for alleviating tight, depleted skin is using a specialty serum to accompany your moisturizer. Use the serum underneath your moisturizer to hydrate the skin, because the damp skin will help to absorb your regular moisturizer more effectively.” The celeb skin pro swears by serums to help give the skin an extra dose of hydration, but advises that they shouldn’t be used alone, or in place of a moisturizer. So how should you use a serum? “After cleansing, use an alcohol-free toner and leave it damp on the skin before applying your serum,” Rouleau explains. “By leaving your skin damp with toner, the active ingredients in your serum will penetrate deeper — giving you better results.”
PRODUCT PICK: Vichy Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Hydration Power Serum ($36)
6. Repair With Retinol
Once summer ends, the skin needs a little TLC to get it back on track. “This is the time of year when you should really focus on repairing and caring for your skin,” says Rouleau. Not only are breakouts increased this time of year (oil production leftover from summer + dead skin cell build-up from cooler temps = pimples), but our skin is left with brown spots and fine lines from basking in the sun’s glorious rays. “Post-summer is the time to get retinol back into your skincare routine,” adds the esthetician. “Opt for either a non-prescription retinol serum or a prescription retinoid which will help to dramatically reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles and brown spots caused by the summer sun. Did we mention retinol can also help shrink the size of your pores? It’s truly a miracle worker!
PRODUCT PICK: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream ($25)
7. Stay Protected With SPF
The sun may seem less intense now that summer is over, but that doesn’t mean your skin is in the clear from damaging UV rays. The sun is just as powerful behind clouds and in cooler whether, so a daily sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 15) is still a necessity to protect against unsightly lines, wrinkles, premature aging and skin cancer. “Just walking to your car — even driving your car — will give you unnecessary sun damage. Windshields do nothing to protect you from UV rays” says Rouleau. “Wearing a moisturizer with sunscreen is the best anti-wrinkle cream you can ever use!”
PRODUCT PICK: Coola SPF 30 Makeup Setting Spray ($36)
8. Use a Humidifier
Before upgrading your entire skincare routine this season, try putting a humidifier in your bedroom first. A humidifier essentially adds more moisture to the air, which indirectly helps the skin stay hydrated and supple. “It sounds so simple, but this trick will work for both dry skin and acne-prone skin,” explains Rouleau. Placing a humidifier in your bedroom can do wonders for your chapped complexion, but it can also help to relieve sinusitis, keep nosebleeds at bay and alleviate snoring. After getting your hands on this trusted device, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one. Just remember to change the water in your humidifier daily so it doesn’t become a source of bacteria and mold.
PRODUCT PICK: Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier ($35 – $50)
What’s your go-to moisturizing product when your skin feels dull and dehydrated? Let us know in the comments!