Your Essential Fall Skincare Checklist

You call it sweater weather. We call it skincare swap-up weather. But a good fall skincare routine is not just about switching out your products for gentler, richer items. It’s also important to refresh your skin after what the summer has done to it, in order to prep it for the coming seasons. And we have just the steps.

Fall is about to be in full swing – and no area in the US knows that better than New England. Not only is the weather cooler, but there’s an undeniable drop in humidity, which makes for dry, stale air – and even drier skin, which can cause a number of issues, including making your fine lines and wrinkles more visible. But, in addition to rethinking your products and regimen to better cater to what fall and winter throws at our faces, the change in season also means cleaning up after what the summer season has also done to your skin. “The skin on your face gets thicker in warmer weather, not to mention there’s a build-up from sunscreen and oil from sweat,” says Tracy Thaden, clinical aesthetician and medical assistant at AW Plastic Surgery. “It’s important to first cleanse that all away in order to start fresh.” So where to start? With these fall skincare tips and product essentials – many of which you can buy in AW’s office-based skincare store – to get you ready for the coming season.

1. Plane Away the Crud to Start with a Fresh Canvas

“I always suggest that at the change of any season, everyone should do a peel, just to cleanse away what the last season has done,” says Thaden. For the transition from summer to fall, she suggests a dermal peel, particularly their Mela Peel from Dermaceutic, which uses kojic and azelaic acids to fight hyperpigmentation that you may have picked up from the summer sun. She also suggests a dermaplaning facial, which uses an exfoliating blade to skim off dead skin cells and built-up debris from oil, sunscreen, and other products. By removing that debris, it leads to brighter, more even skin that is able to better absorb all the goodness from your fall skincare products.

2. Get Back on Retinols

A derivative of vitamin A, retinol stimulates collagen production and cell turnover, which can help soften wrinkles, smooth skin texture, correct dark spots, and clear acne. However, since retinol creams make your skin more sensitive to sun’s rays, people naturally hop off it in the summer (however, if you are sure to combine it with regular applications of sunscreen, it’s fine to wear in the summer). Thaden likes the retinol creams from Dermaceutic and SENTÉ because they are available in variable strengths and ideal for all skin types.

3. Add in a Daily Vitamin-C Serum

“After months of summer sun, you might notice some signs of photo-damage,” says Thaden. “A daily vitamin C serum is essential for repairing photo-damage and brightening up the skin. Not to mention, it’s an antioxidant, so it strengthens the skin barrier and boosts collagen production.” A fan-favorite among the ladies in the AW office: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, a daytime vitamin C serum that delivers advanced environmental protection and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness, and brightens the skin’s complexion.

4. Swap Out Your Cleanser for Something Gentler

“It’s important to get people off the acid cleansers – used to treat oil in the summer – and onto a cream-based cleanser,” says Thaden. “Otherwise, you’re going to just be drying out your skin.” Swap out your deep-cleaning or clarifying wash for something like Dermaceutic’s Advanced Cleanser, a gentle cleansing foam.

5. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

After slathering on that lightweight, oil-free moisturizer all summer, the dryer air means you’ll need a heftier hydrator, says Thaden. She recommends SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore, which is infused with essential lipids – healthy fatty acids that occur naturally in the skin, but need to be replenished during the cooler months – for facial fullness and reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. So you’re not just balancing your moisture levels, but skin’s elasticity, leaving it supple, healthy, and radiant. Not enough? Hydrating masks and even the addition of a humidifier in your home (especially once you turn on the heat for the first time) can help boost moisture.

6. Opt for Products with Hyaluronic Acid

Serums, toners, or general products containing hyaluronic acid are a great way to help your skin resist moisture loss – something that will be key in the upcoming season. “Hyaluronic acid really binds water as it holds 1,000 times its weight in water,” says Thaden. “It’s great for injecting, ingesting, and using topically this time of year to help create a moisture barrier.”

7. Don’t Forget Your Lips

As you likely experienced, the cooler weather can be especially hard on your lips since this is some of the most sensitive skin on your body. So to ensure your lips don’t become dry and irritated this winter, it’s important to take preemptive steps now. Thaden suggests exfoliating your lips weekly with a sugar scrub to remove dead skin cells (just be sure to do it in the shower, since your skin is already soft and there’s less chance for tearing) and using a lip mask overnight (another AW fan-favorite is the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, which you can get at any Sephora or Ulta). Follow it up with an emollient balm that is free of petroleum and mineral oil – while these ingredients may make your lips feel smooth and hydrated on the surface, they don’t do anything to truly hydrate your delicate lip skin. In fact, they can actually dry your skin over time, increasing your dependence on the balm.

8. Don’t Shelf the Sunscreen

Yes, sneaky photo-damage can happen at any time of year. “Sunscreen is a must year-round,” states Thaden. “Even in rain, sleet, or snow, there are still UV rays and blue light from electronics.” So always remember the sun protection, either worn under your makeup or on its own every day.