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Have you got your fall skin care routine sorted out yet? After all, every new season has its own impact on the skin. As nature turns the dial down on the temperature it’s a good time to revisit your cosmetics and see which changes you should implement in your skin care for fall.
This might mean finding products that will help you recover from the revelries of summer or it might mean kicking things up a notch now that the weather is not so destructive. Whatever it may be, we outline everything you ought to keep in mind with the seasonal change.
To start, we’ve selected the best fall skin care products you might want to add to your routine, in all categories. We then explain exactly what you should keep in mind when planning your fall skin care routine, and then cover what a full autumn routine actually looks like, and in what order to use which product. To finish things off, we added some additional fall skin care tips not just for your face, but for the rest of your body as well.
Your Fall Skin Care Guide: Contents
- 15 Best Fall Skin Care Products for a Cozy Routine
- Figuring Out Your Fall Skin Care Swaps
- Evening Fall Skin Care Routine Steps
- Morning Fall Skin Care Routine Steps
- Weekly Autumn Skin Treats
- More Fall Skin Care Tips
Kick your skin into gear with the best skin care products for fall for every skin type, climate and need. Pick them all up for a serious overhaul, or just add a few to your existing routine to get that autumn-ready boost.
1. Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream
Summer can take its toll on your skin, so having your skin care for fall include a barrier-restoring moisturizer is important. This cream is made specifically to increase the strength and suppleness of the skin with skin-identical ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. It’s a particularly good choice for those with dry or sensitive skin as a night moisturizer. Buy it from Sephora!
2. Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Cream
This is another rich moisturizer you might want to try in your fall skin care routine. It has been hugely popular in Korea for years now, so we love that it’s now available in North America just in time for the cooler seasons. This creamy formula gives incredible luminescence to the skin and helps to restore any glow your skin might have lost from the heat of summer, with the help of moisturizing squalane, hydrating cactus extract, and brightening licorice root extract. It’s ideal for those with combination and dry skin. Pick it up at Nordstrom!
3. Peter Thomas Roth Green Releaf Therapeutic Sleep Cream
This is a final restoring moisturizer to try, especially if you’ve got sunburned more than once this summer. It’ll soothe your skin all throughout the autumn with anti-inflammatory colloidal oatmeal and centella asiatica extract. This retinoid-enriched formula also has some wonderful skin-smoothing and anti-aging effects, but the percentage is low enough that it’s suitable for sensitive skin. Though it does contain lipids like shea butter and hemp seed oil, they are non-comedogenic so this formula will be fine even if your skin gets oily. It is available at Ulta.
4. Paula’s Choice Boost C15 Super Booster Concentrated Serum
If summer left you with some hyperpigmentation, then a vitamin C serum is a must. This booster is formulated with 15% vitamin C reinforced by the presence of antioxidant ferulic acid and vitamin E. This blend also contains butylene glycol and hyaluronic acid to infuse the skin with additional moisture. It’s a great choice for all skin types, especially before sunscreen in the mornings. You can get it from Nordstrom.
5. Revolution Skincare 5% Glycolic Acid Toner
Your fall skin care routine can include more intense, regular exfoliation than your summer or spring skin care routines. Glycolic acid is one of the most popular exfoliants because it is thorough and surprisingly hydrating, and it’s always great in a toner. This serum includes 5% of it, along with soothing witch hazel and ginseng. It’ll help renew the skin, which has both anti-aging and anti-acne benefits. It should work for all skin types except the very sensitive. Find it at Ulta!
6. BeautyBio The Protector Daily Defense Cream SPF 30
Regardless whether you are or aren’t adding photosensitizing actives into your fall skin care routine, it’s still important to keep using sunscreen even during the colder season. A daily moisturizer with an SPF is the best way to keep up with the sun protection without feeling put upon. This sunscreen is a great lightweight choice that doesn’t leave a white cast. It also contains skin-fortifying probiotics and a variety of softening emollients. It is sold at Nordstrom.
7. Darphin Environmental Lightweight Shield SPF 50
This sunscreen is another great autumn choice, especially if your skin is more on the oily side or you’d prefer a heavier SPF. The formula is all mineral so it is unlikely to irritate sensitive skin, with a primer-like texture that works beautifully under makeup. Since it is quite light, it is best to use it over a hydrating serum or moisturizer. Purchase it at Nordstrom!
8. PCA Skin Intensive Age Refining Treatment
Retinol is one of the best anti-aging treatments since it is able to promote collagen production while improving skin texture. It can be a little heavy-duty for summer, but it’s great in your skin care for fall. This formula includes 0.5% retinol, along with fortifying peptides. The ingredients are microencapsulated in a way that keeps them fresh and effective and allows them to penetrate deeply into the skin. It’s a great choice for all skin types except the very sensitive. You can grab it from Nordstrom.
9. Farmacy Honeymoon Glow AHA Resurfacing Night Serum with Hydrating Honey + Gentle Flower Acids
If you’d like the exfoliation in your fall skin care routine to come overnight, then this serum is a great choice. It hydrates and exfoliates the skin all at once, to give it a serious glow. The blend includes glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids for super thorough yet gentle exfoliation that will work for all skin types. It also contains soothing willow bark extract and hydrating honey, making it ideal for dry as well as slightly sensitive skin. Shop it at Sephora!
10. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
Your autumn cleanser should be gentle yet effective, though to be fair, this should apply to your cleansers year-round. This moisturizing cleanser is a classic since it totally removes impurities from the skin while also hydrating it with the help of soy protein and some non-comedogenic botanical oils. It’s a favorite for all skin types and is ideal for dealing with the drying effects of the autumn. Order it from Nordstrom!
11. Lano Golden Dry Skin Salve Allover
If you live in a place that gets really arid in the autumn then you’ll want to pick up this powerfully occlusive salve and to keep using it well into winter. It is made with lanolin, which is one of the most effective ingredients for locking moisture into the skin, as well as with hydrating honey and antioxidant vitamin E. It’s the perfect final fall skin care step in the evening, following a hydrating serum or moisturizer, and it’ll also feel lovely on your lips, dry elbows, or cuticles. It is sold at BeautyExpert.
12. Erborian Solid Cleansing Oil
If you’ve been considering switching to oil cleansing or double cleansing then the autumn season is the best time. Your skin will benefit the most from an oil cleanser when the weather is crisp and the risk of dehydration increases. This solid cleansing oil from Korea is a great choice for removing heavy makeup without irritating the skin, since it contains soothing, antioxidant-rich oils from sunflower and coconuts. It emulsifies easily with water, so you won’t have any problems rinsing it away even if your skin gets oily sometimes. Buy it from Ulta!
13. Boscia Matcha Magic Super-Antioxidant Mask
If your combination or oily skin is feeling a little extra stressed post-summer then this is the mask to pick up. It is a clay-based mask, so it does a great job of pulling deep impurities out of the skin, but it also contains matcha green tea and willow bark extract to alleviate redness. A touch of argan oil and bakuchiol infuse the skin with antioxidants and give it a glow. You can get it at Revolve.
14. RMS Beauty Beauty Oil
Another great way to introduce facial oils into your skin care for fall is as mixers. They give a small boost of emollience to your moisturizers without forcing you to change up your routine completely. This oil from RMS is especially potent, since it is made with skin-refining rosehip seed oil and silky jojoba oil. It’s useful for all skin types, and also contains licorice extract to give some added brightness. Purchase it from Sephora!
15. Glycolix Elite Treatment Pads 20%
If you want to truly recharge your skin, then a powerful peel is the way to go. You don’t have to go to a salon to get a thorough resurfacing, since these intense peel pads allow you to do everything at home. They are charged with 20% glycolic acid, which is the most powerful chemical exfoliant available for at-home use, as well as a collection of antioxidants like CoQ10, vitamin C, and vitamin E. They will work for all skin types, assuming your skin is hearty enough to tolerate such intense exfoliation. Order these pads from Dermstore!
As you transition from summer to fall, there are a couple of things to change in your skin care routine.
• Amp up the Moisture
As the weather gets colder, humidity also tends to go down. This depends on where you live, of course, but generally, autumn is the time to go up a step with moisturizers. In summer you would have been using the lightest moisturizer possible (and those of you with oily skin will have been using a gel or essence instead of a cream), so in autumn it’s good to choose something just a tad heavier.
If you were using a gel in summer, then a gel-cream or light lotion will do, while if you were using a light cream then it’s time to graduate to a full-on moisturizer. Another option is to find a balm or facial oil and then apply it on top of or mix it in with your summer moisturizer in order to give it a moisture-locking boost.
• Slough off the Yoke of Summer
Summer is the season when our skin usually experiences the most damage, so in preparation for fall skin care, it’s a good idea to give it a sort of “reset” with a thorough exfoliation. You can go to the salon for a facial or add an at-home chemical exfoliant to your routine. This is especially good if you have thick, hearty skin or if you feel like all of the sweat and sunscreen from the warm seasons has totally clogged your pores.
• Take the Time to Heal
On the other hand, if you have sensitive skin or if summer meant a lot of sunburns, you might want to avoid the heavy exfoliants at first and instead take the time during the seasonal change to baby your skin with soothing and barrier-restoring masks and creams.
Overnight masks can be particularly great for restoring the skin, as are soothing serums and nourishing creams. Look for barrier-repairing ingredients like ceramides, botanical oils, and cholesterol, as well as for anti-inflammatory ingredients like willow bark extract, green tea extract, oatmeal, and centella asiatica extract.
• Go Heavier on the Actives
Skincare actives like retinol, vitamin C and glycolic acid have really radical results, but they also make the skin a little more sensitive to the sun. If your skin is in good shape as summer ends, then the change over to mild weather and reduced UV exposure makes fall the best time for adding new actives into your skin care routine.
The actives you choose are totally up to you and what your skin needs! You can introduce vitamin C if the summer sun has left you with some hyperpigmentation, start using a retinoid to improve skin texture and give collagen a boost or go heavier on your chemical exfoliation by using a higher percentage or doing it more often.
• Don’t Quite the Good Stuff
While you should change up your skin care for fall a little bit, it’s never a good idea to start a brand-new skin care routine from scratch. If your skin has a negative reaction to something, you won’t know which product was at fault if you start a whole new routine in one go.
In fact, it’s good to introduce one new product at a time and wait a couple of weeks to assess for any adverse effects before adding another new one. Beyond that, some of the products that you’ve used in the summer skin care routine might be your ride and die products, so there is no reason to stop benefitting from them! For example, if you’ve loved your moisturizer, then keep using it, and then maybe just boost it a bit with a serum or oil.
Another product that is important to keep using is your daily sunscreen. Just because the sun is not as strong as it used to be doesn’t mean it’s not still there. Though sunburn is less likely in the autumn because we’re exposed less, UVB, UVA rays can still have carcinogenic and photoaging effects.
The evening is your change to load your skin up with all of the nutrients and actives that will restore its appearance and keep it bright and youthful all season long.
You may have spent more time indoors and gotten less sweaty, but cleansing your face at night is still an important part of maintaining your skin’s health. You can use the same cleansing routine you loved all summer, or switch to a more hydrating milk or oil cleanser if you like. Double cleansing is another big favorite of ours, all year round.
The key is to make sure all traces of makeup and sunscreen are gone, and that your skin doesn’t feel tight or dehydrated. If you’ve been following my writing, you know that I favor low-pH cleansers that are sulfate-free, and that I always recommend wiping the face with a soft face cloth after rinsing to ensure all traces of cleanser are totally gone.
• Optional Toner
You can wipe your face with a hydrating or pH-adjusting toner if you like, although it’s not a mandatory step. If you do like to tone your skin after you’ve cleansed it, make sure your toner is free of dehydrating ingredients like SD alcohol.
Your toner can also be your exfoliating step, especially if you’re using a toner that contains a chemical exfoliant like glycolic or salicylic acid. Just saturate a cotton pad with your toner and then wipe it on in upward motions. You can also dispense it in your palms and pat it on if you prefer.
If you’re not into toners, just splash your face with a little bit of water. This is because when the skin is damp, it absorbs serums and creams better than it does when dry.
• Active Serums
The actives you’ve added to your skin care for fall are best applied after you’ve cleansed or following a low-pH toner. This is especially true for pH-dependent actives like glycolic acid (which might have been in your toner) and vitamin C. Non-pH-dependent actives like benzoyl peroxide or retinoids can go on your skin at any point in your routine.
If you apply them after a serum or moisturizer they will take a little longer to sink in but will also irritate the skin less. Apply your active serum to your skin in a gentle pressing motion, and then allow it to dry completely (some people even wait 20-30 minutes) before applying additional products.
Your hydrating steps should be a spillover from summer! Whether it’s a hydrating essence, serum, or light moisturizer (or maybe all three), it’s important to apply your hydrating steps after pH-dependent actives and before heavier moisturizers, and always in order of the thinnest to the thickest. They can be applied with a quick massage or with a gentler patting motion – it’s totally up to you and what your skin likes.
• Final Moisturizers
To cap things off, a moisturizer is very important in autumn. This is because as the weather gets cooler, humidity tends to go down, so having a step that stops moisture from evaporating is very important.
Choose a moisturizer based on your skin type, so if you’re usually oily stick to something light, while if you have dry skin opt for something a little richer. You can use the same moisturizer all year round, and then apply an occlusive balm over it to seal things in better, or you can mix a few drops of facial oil into your moisturizer to make it more emollient.
As with a serum, you can apply your moisturizer with a massage or by pressing it in. Another great option is to exchange your night moisturizer for a rich overnight mask, which creates a film over the skin at night.
In the morning, you will want your skin care for fall to be a little richer to prevent dehydration throughout the day, but you don’t want to slather on too many layers to avoid feeling greasy.
• Splash of Something
Chances are that even if you had to cleanse your skin in the mornings during summer, once fall rolls around that’s no longer necessary. Instead, you can splash your face with a bit of water or wipe it down with a toner or hydrating essence! If you have oily skin, you might want to keep cleansing, but in most instances, it’s not necessary.
• Morning-Friendly Actives
Even your morning fall skin care routine can include some active ingredients! Like in the summer, vitamin C is especially great in the morning because it has an antioxidant effect that can stabilize sunscreen while also keeping the skin looking bright and youthful.
Chemical exfoliants are also fine to use in the morning as long as you’re not applying more than your skin can tolerate and are fastidious about your sunscreen use.
• Serums or Hydrators
If Necessary You might want to keep up with hydrating serums or gels in the morning, especially if you have dry skin or if the area you live in is very dry. Apply them much like you would in the evening.
• Moisturizer and SPF
Depending on your skin type, you might want a daily fall moisturizer with an SPF or you might prefer to keep the two steps separate. It’s also possible that if you’re already using a hydrating serum or gel, that sunscreen on top is enough layers for you.
Either way, it’s better to choose a slightly creamier morning moisturizer or sunscreen than what you were using in summer since you want to avoid having your skin dry out throughout the day.
Your daily skin care routine is always going to be more impactful than what you do just once in a while, but that’s not to say that your skin won’t benefit from extra TLC every once in a while. You can add extra steps as part of a self-care ritual and as a chance to rejuvenate.
These can include a heavier-duty chemical exfoliant or peel, followed by a soothing mask, or it can be a gentle clay-based mask to clear the skin of impurities. Doing an overnight mask every once in a while is also a wonderful skin treat.
• Your body also deserves some attention during the fall! Moisturizing after every shower (or in shower with an oil-based body scrub) is a great way of staving off dehydration all over.
• Here’s another tip: before bed, after slathering your hands and feet with cream, pull on some socks and gloves. They’ll act as physical barriers that prevent moisture evaporation, making sure your hands and feet absorb a maximal amount of moisture.
• If the area you live in is extra arid, then get yourself a humidifier. Even the best serums and moisturizers don’t hold a candle to having a slightly more humid environment. As a bonus, having moisture in the air will allow those essences to work better, since they’ll have more moisture to bring into your skin.
• Keep your autumn accessories clean! Those beanies and scarves you pull on to stay warm in the fall can harbor bacteria just as easily as your pillowcases. They should be washed at least once a week, and more often than that if your skin is acne-prone.
• The lips are usually the part of our face that suffers the most as the weather gets colder. Don’t neglect your lips! Apply a lip balm every night before going to bed, and keep it on you so you can use it throughout the day.
Photos via @moikobeauty, @skinjolie, @ellenvlora