5 Ways Your Skin Changes in Fall

Spoiler: It's not for the better.

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Fall may signal the return of plaid and Pumpkin Spice Lattes (no comment), but it also signals something you may have overlooked—a skincare regimen change-up. Because while finding that perfect cozy sweater to tuck into is easy enough, knowing exactly what's happening to your skin as it transitions is a bit trickier. And it (unfortunately) shows. Here's what you need to know:

Colder weather is your cue to add more moisturizing products to your routine. No more of that bar of soap business—you need a gentle cleanser that hydrates instead, as well as moisturizer for your entire body. Dr. Gary Goldenberg, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology and Medical Director of the Dermatology Faculty Practice at Mount Sinai, gave us his must-haves for fall:

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Cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $14.49; ulta.com (opens in new tab).

Moisturizer: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $15.69; amazon.com (opens in new tab).

Body Lotion: Dove Extra Dry Cream Oil Sensitive Skin Body Lotion, $5.97; walmart.com (opens in new tab).

Overnight Mask: Nude Skincare Advanced Renewal Overnight Repair Mask, $48; sephora.com (opens in new tab).

Like, Sad Keanu (opens in new tab) status. Skin becomes way more susceptible to the environment as the temperature drops—sometimes it's best just to let it have a break. "When you improve this lipid barrier and give it a rest from potential irritants [like scrubs or acids], skin can get busy with other duties, like building collagen," says (opens in new tab) L.A.-based dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban. In another words, skip aggressive treatments for a little bit, and try exfoliating less (once a week as opposed to twice, every other week)—concentrating instead on gentle cleansing and moisturizing.

Whether you've spent the past few months at the beach or not, you have sun damage—most likely in the form of sun spots and more visible signs of aging. Dr. Goldenberg recommends adding a retinoid to your routine to repair and renew. "Products like Renova or Retin-A Microgel are great to help with hyperpigmentation, melasma, freckles, fine wrinkles and lines and dull, sullen skin," he explains. 

Another symptom of the summer months is larger pores. "Sun and heat stimulate the sabaceous glands to produce more oil, which—along with dirt and keratin—fill up and stretches out pores. UVA radiation, which penetrates into the dermis, weakens and breaks down collagen and elastin, the structure foundation of the skin, and this makes pores even more dilated," says (opens in new tab) New York City dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur. She suggests looking for peels, serums, or hydrators with salicyclic acids to clean out pores.

Try: M-61 Power Pro-Peel, $28 for 30 Treatments; bluemercury.com (opens in new tab).

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Not because the sun is stronger per se, but the UV index may continue to be high and you're less aware of it/motivated to slather on the protection. "Wear a moisturizer with sunscreen every morning, and SPF 50 sunscreen when doing outdoor activities," advises Dr. Goldenberg. His favorite wallet-friendly option is Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 (opens in new tab) ($16).

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Cold temps constrict blood vessels and thus can hinder circulation. Without proper blood flow to the skin, your complexion can look sallow, says (opens in new tab)  celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau. To ensure you don't lose your glow, look for antioxidants that are known to stimulate blood flow, like rosemary, ginseng extract, and peppermint. We suggest adding Rouleau's Revitalizing Ginseng Toner (opens in new tab), which works to dilate the blood vessels.

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Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.