It’s October, which means autumn has officially arrived. While autumn weather brings chunky knits, cosy pj’s and pumpkin spice everything, it also means cold weather, radiators on and brisk, dry air.
Top that off with climate change causing increasingly extreme weather conditions, and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm for dryness, dehydration, flaking and skin irritation.
Don’t freak out just yet. Transitioning from your summer skincare routine to your autumn skincare routine really just involves a few small tweaks. As we move into the colder months each day can be pretty unpredictable in terms of the weather, so it’s just about evaluating your skin each day to see what it needs.
Here are a few easy changes you can make to create the best skincare routine for autumn and winter.
Reduce your active ingredients
People who would have once thought of themselves as having oily skin or combination skin can suddenly find themselves with much more sensitive skin in autumn, that will react differently to your usual retinoids, AHAs and BHAs.
The combination of more extreme weather, cold air and central heating can make the skin much more sensitive and reactionary, so it’s a good idea to cut back on your more powerful active ingredients like chemical exfoliators and retinoids. Try and limit these products to twice a week.
Swap out your foam cleanser
If you’re someone who loves using foam cleansers during the summer months, you might notice that in cold weather they could make your skin feel a bit more ‘stripped’ than usual.
Foaming cleansers tend to dry out the skin, which isn’t so much an issue in hot summer months when your skin is oilier. However, once the cold weather hits, your skin becomes much drier. Using a foamy cleanser can lead to flaking and scaly dry patches.
Try switching to either a cleansing milk or gel cleanser that is packed full of moisturising ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid.
Add more moisture
Since you’ll be cutting back on exfoliation, keeping your skin as quenched and moisturised as possible in colder weather is essential. A key way to beat dehydration in winter months is by layering several hydrating products on top of each other.
Start off by incorporating a hydrating toner or watery essence right after cleansing, and then following up with a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum.
Since dry heat from central heating can strip the skin of its own naturally occurring oils, supplementing your routine with a face oil is a great way to fight the flakes. It keeps your moisture barrier in check to protect itself from the harsh elements.
If you have already sensitive or acne-prone skin, using an oil that mimics the skin’s naturally occurring oils is the best way to keep your skin lubricated without causing a break-out or adverse reaction.
Olive oil, jojoba oil and apricot kernel oil are all plant oils that are very similar to the skin’s own sebum so they’re unlikely to cause problems. In fact, they can work well on their own as a moisturiser for oily skin types in cold winter months.
Swap your day cream for a richer formula
One of the first things you should do when the weather starts to turn cold is swap your summer moisturiser for a thicker formula.
Swapping out your summer moisturiser is like upgrading from a light summer duvet – while gel creams and light lotions are great for hot summer days, they just won’t cut it when it comes to keeping your skin hydrated in cold, dry weather and overheated offices.
Swap to a thicker day cream for dry skin, preferably one packed with humectants to draw moisture out of the air into the skin – such as glycerin, urea and hyaluronic acid.
If you have particularly dry skin, using a moisturiser formulated with occlusives like castor oil and jojoba oil will prevent moisture from evaporating out of the skin.
Use an overnight mask
If you find yourself going to sleep with perfectly plump, moisturised skin only to wake up with skin that feels parched, tight and dry – the timer on your central heating might be the cause.
Keeping radiators on in winter means that the air in your office and home becomes hot and dry, which is bad news for your moisture barrier.
We get it – the weather is getting cold, and waking up in a freezing cold room makes it so much harder to get up in the morning.
Instead of sacrificing that much-needed boost of heat on cold autumn days, try wearing a sleeping mask that will nourish your skin while also protecting it from the dry heat of your radiator. Using an overnight mask will also prevent moisture loss as you sleep, keeping your skin plump and hydrated.
Don’t skip your sunscreen!
Coming into the autumn and winter months, you might assume that just because the sun isn’t out you don’t need SPF.
While you might be exposed to fewer UVB rays (the ones that make your skin tan), the sun’s UVA rays are present all year round. In fact, there is increasing research to show that the blue light emitted from your laptop and phone screen could also cause premature skin ageing. As such, SPF should be an essential part of your daytime skincare routine no matter what season we’re in.
Use a minimum of SPF 30 with broad-spectrum protection to shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays for year-round protection from sun damage.