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10 Fall Skincare Tips for Glowing Skin all Season Long

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Fall is upon us, and while we’re sad to see the summer months go, we’re looking forward to the season’s cooler weather, gorgeous gold foliage, and (of course!) warm, cozy lattes. Every season, we prep for fall by switching out our warm-weather-wear for comfy sweaters, boots, and light jackets. But what about our beauty routines? Our beauty products and skincare routines are in need of a swap too—those lightweight moisturizers and gel cleansers just won’t cut it in the colder months.

Your skin has certain needs in the summer (extra SPF for the summer sun, a face mist to cool you down, gel moisturizers to let your skin breathe), but fall weather calls for formulas that deliver what your skin craves after being exposed to dry air.

“Skin loses a lot of moisture into the environment when the air is less humid, such as during the transition from summer to fall,” says dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD. But it can be hard to choose the right skincare products. To take the guesswork out of your skincare routine for fall, we’ve rounded up the best fall skincare tips and products that we love to get your skin glowing and looking its healthiest yet!


About the Experts:

Rachel Nazarian, MD, is a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.
Jessica Houston is the VP of operations and lead esthetician at The Beauty Bar at BEAUTYBEEZ.

1. Use a Gentle Cleanser

Light, foamy cleansers feel so refreshing in the summertime, but when there’s less humidity in the air, you need a balancing cleanser that can hydrate without stripping away moisture. “Switch to more humectant (water-based) products in the fall and winter vs emollient (oil-based) products in the spring and summer,” says esthetician Jessica Houston.

When looking for the perfect hydrating cleanser, you’ll find everything from cleansing milks and creams or even gels that keep your skin feeling hydrated with ingredients like vitamin E.

Our Picks:

  • BANILA CO. Clean It Zero Pore Clarifying Cleansing Balm is a super satisfying formula that transforms from a sherbet-like balm to a soothing oil to remove makeup, dirt, and impurities without stripping away moisture.

  • THE LYFESTYLE CO. Botanical Oil Cleanser is the perfect oil cleanser to have on hand for the cooler months. It’s enriched with superfood ingredients that nourish skin and give it the hydration it needs while breaking down product buildup to instantly dissolve makeup without stripping the skin of moisture, all as it helps with evening out your skin tone.

  • THIS WORKS Evening Detox Cleansing Water is strong enough to effectively remove any dirt and impurities from your day but gentle enough for sensitive skin. Packed with sweet almond oil, organic aloe vera, and liquorice root, it leaves you with a clean canvas ready to conquer the world.

2. Exfoliate Gently and Less Often

If you’re experiencing dullness and dryness, it may be tempting to scrub, scrub, scrub to brighten up your complexion. But exfoliating aggressively can lead to even more dryness and irritation. Your summer skin has more of a buffer—thanks in part to humidity that attracts moisture to your skin—to cushion irritation that exfoliants can bring on. Use exfoliants less often and make it one that’s easy on your skin.

Instead, if you must exfoliate, opt for a chemical exfoliant. “Fall is a great time to start using those stronger AHAs and BHAs, as they could sensitize the skin during the summer with a lot of sun exposure,” says Houston.

If you feel your skin needs it, you can use a gentle exfoliating toner two to three times a week. Just be sure you’re using plenty of hydrating products in conjunction.

Our Picks:

  • REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask uses a gentle blend of glycolic, lactic, citric, and tartaric acids to help smooth skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines, pores, and dark spots. Hello, glow! 

  • CLARITYRX Brighten It 10% Lactic Acid Solution takes care of skin texture, no problem! Although recommended for all skin types, this product is excellent for discolored, dull, or roughly textured skin. It gently removes dark spots and discoloration, evens skin tone, and helps regulate sebum production.

  • GLOW RECIPE Watermelon Glow Pore-Tight Toner hydrates skin with antioxidant rich watermelon and cactus extracts, working to tighten pores and even skin tone overtime. It uses BHAs and PHAs to gently exfoliate and remove any sebum and grime from clogged pores.

3. Use a Hydrating Toner or Serum

Did you know hyaluronic acid is a humectant that helps bring moisture to the skin? It’s like an all-powerful skin hydrating ingredient. And when it comes to vitamin C, not only does it provide the skin with antioxidants and protection against free radicals, it brightens your complexion by evening skin tone and fading dark marks.

Add both a vitamin C and hyaluronic acid serum into your routine to keep skin glowing, plump, and hydrated like it’s still summer!

Our Picks:

  • KAT BURKI Retin-C Treatment Complex uses a powerful combo of retinol and vitamin C. With 2.5% rovisome retinol and 7% STAY C™ Vitamin C, this formula helps promote cellular turnover, fade hyperpigmentation, and leave you with plump, hydrated skin that glows from within. 

  • ORIGINS DR. ANDREW WEIL FOR ORIGINS™ Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion is packed with both chaga and reishi mushrooms, along with licorice root and hyaluronic acid. It’s your ultimate first step to hydration, helping to soothe your skin and minimize the appearance of pesky pores. Not only does it create the perfect canvas for your other skincare products and makeup, but it also helps strengthen your skin barrier and reduce visible redness.

  • HEY HONEY Good Morning Honey Silk Facial Serum is a two-in-one skincare serum and makeup primer. Formulated with sea buckthorn oil and honey, this serum deeply nourishes skin like a face oil. It’s best for mature skin, dry skin, and those who want to target fine lines.

4. Swap for a Richer Moisturizer

It may seem like a no-brainer, but one of the easiest ways to prep your skin for fall is by swapping your lightweight lotion for a richer formula, or layering them. “Dry skin requires both humectants and emollients that draw in moisture and lock in moisture, respectively,” says Dr. Nazarian. “A good humectant is hyaluronic acid which draws water into the skin, and skin barrier repairing creams such as CERAVE Daily Moisturizing Lotion that contains ceramides to be applied afterward. These help decrease the loss of moisture into the environment over time.”

Our Picks:

  • YENSA Pink Lotus Peptide Renewal Face Cream uses antioxidant-rich pink lotus extract and firming peptides to help brighten, depuff, and smooth tired and dull skin.

  • Layering on a hydrating face oil like CANNALOGICA Facial Hydration Oil is a great way to add and lock in moisture. It’s made with hemp seed oil to soothe stressed-out skin and calm blemishes and redness in acne-prone skin.

  • TATCHA Indigo Overnight Repair Cream is a cushiony, water-based cream that is like a hug for your skin. It helps repair and hydrate skin overnight—perfect to recover if you spent all day in the cold weather. It’s fragrance-free, visibly calms irritation, strengthens your skin barrier, and balances the microbiome over time.

5. Don’t Skip the SPF!

Yup, that’s right—you need to protect your skin from sun damage all year long (even in cold weather). “SPFs are still very important because although the temperature drops, there’s still radiation year-round and even a small amount of radiation can add up to the cumulative damage that leads to skin cancer, wrinkles, pigmentary problems, and aging of skin,” says Dr. Nazarian. “I like sunscreens that have added hydration and are still lightweight and that protect skin from ultraviolet light while moisturizing all day long.”

Our Picks:

6. Keep Your Showers Short

A long soak in a tub after a cold day sounds heavenly, right? We’re not saying to skip out on your bubble bath completely, but limiting your exposure to hot water can go a long way to keep your skin hydrated and happy.

Dr. Nazarian says, “Use less hot water (hot water removes natural oils more than lukewarm) and keep showers shorter during the dry fall season”.

7. Pick Up a New Body Cream

Moisturizing from top-to-toe is extremely important in the cold winter months. “Apply moisturizer immediately after the bath, and use an emollient (like VASELINE) after you moisturize to lock in moisture and prevent evaporation. People also often wash their skin too aggressively, which can strip skin’s natural moisture barrier and lead to drying,” says Dr. Nazarian.

By moisturizing your whole body, you’re protecting and actively rebuilding your skin barrier, which protects your skin from redness, flakiness, and even eczema due to cold weather.

8. Buy a Humidifier

We love coming into a cozy, heated home. But your heating system can seriously suck moisture from the air, leaving little for your skin. “You can minimize the potential for dry skin by using a humidifier to add moisturizer into the air during colder, drier months,” says Dr. Nazarian. So, when our heat goes on, we turn on our humidifier (especially when we’re sleeping) to help prevent moisture loss at night. Trust us, your skin will thank you for it.

Our Picks:

  • If you don’t have a humidifier yet, keep a facial spray like GRACE & STELLA Hydrating Rose Facial Spray somewhere close like your coffee table or nightstand and mist your skin when you’re feeling dry.

  • For an affordable and space-saving humidifier, try this one from Raycool. It’s small enough to fit close to you on your nightstand while you sleep.

9. Be Mindful of Sugar

This one isn’t so obvious to most skincare lovers as the weather turns colder. With the holiday season approaching in the colder months, it’s natural to be eating lots of yummy sweet treats. Our favorite fall treats are definitely apple cider donuts and pumpkin pie!

Keeping in mind, foods high in sugar and refined carbs can sometimes break out our skin due to hormone increases. Make sure to drink plenty of water and monitor your skin — it will tell you what it needs more of and what it needs less of!

10. Don’t Forget Your Feet, Elbows, and Lips

You might find this tip funny—why do I need to pay attention to my feet, elbows, and lips? Well, the bottoms of our feet and our elbows are some of the thickest parts of our skin and they require a lot of moisture to keep hydrated. They’re also the parts that can lose water and hydration the quickest. So while you’re using your body cream pay extra attention to these areas to prevent them from getting rough and calloused.

As for your lips, they’re one of the most delicate parts of our skin. Although they have the ability to heal quickly, you’ll want to prevent them from cracking in the cold weather. Keep a thick lip balm (like Vaseline or Aquaphor) in your bag to reapply and treat them throughout the day.

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About the author
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Maddie Aberman
Maddie is the senior manager of editorial at IPSY. She’s been covering beauty and wellness for more than nine years. Her work has appeared in Allure, Cosmopolitan, Popsugar, Women's Health, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated August 18, 2023 12:00 AM