Ways to Make Over Your Skin-Care Routine for Fall and Winter

It's the height of fall, and in some places winter is well underway. You've probably already changed up your wardrobe. But what does your skin-care routine look like?

Cool, crisp days can make your skin feel parched and scaly. And it’s no wonder: “There’s less moisture in the air to give your skin ambient hydration,” says Jody Levine, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “That’s why it’s time to change your approach and think about how to protect your skin from harsh outdoor elements like the wind and chilly air.”

It may seem like the obvious solution is to simply slather on more moisturizer. But there’s no silver bullet when it comes to keeping your skin soft and hydrated as the seasons change.

When switching over your skin-care products for colder weather, it’s important to take your skin type into account. Whether you’ve got dry, oily, or combination skin — or a skin condition like psoriasis — here’s how to winterize your routine, adding key ingredients to the mix, so you can keep your skin healthy and radiant all season long.

Sea Buckthorn Oil Can Help Combat Dry Skin

Dealing with dry skin that only seems to get worse in the winter? After washing your face (ideally with a soap-free cleanser or micellar water), apply a thin coat of an antioxidant-rich serum and allow it to soak in for several minutes, suggests Dr. Levine. Then, apply a creamy moisturizer to help lock in hydration.

You can also put a drop of rose, marula, or sea buckthorn oil directly onto the skin or add it to your face cream for even more moisture, suggests Francesca Fusco, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Hyaluronic Acid Serum to Hydrate Oily Skin

“Even oily skin needs moisture,” says Levine. The trick to hydrating an oily complexion is to first apply a toner containing salicylic acid, which will help dry up excess oil. Next, use an oil-free moisturizer or a gel-based or serum moisturizer.

“Look for those containing ingredients such as glycerin, D-glucuronic acid, Aloe barbadensis leaf extract, L-limonene, and sodium PCA,” says Dr. Fusco, as they provide moisture without the heaviness of oils.

Try a Combination Strategy for Combination Skin

There’s nothing worse than skin that’s dry and oily at the same time. To hydrate combination skin, you’ve got to be strategic. “Try using a toning pad with glycolic and salicylic acid that you can apply to just your oily T-zone areas,” says Levine. Then follow up with a lotion-based moisturizer on your cheeks and neck, suggests Fusco.

Glycolic and salicylic acids are both incredibly popular and effective chemical exfoliators. While they each work differently, when used in tandem they provide far-reaching benefits. Research shows that these two popular hydroxy acids do everything from exfoliate to hydrate and even regenerate skin cells, creating overall healthier, more radiant skin.

Ceramides for Skin Conditions like Psoriasis, Eczema, and Rosacea

People with psoriasis may experience dry, flaking skin, especially along their scalp line or in their T-zone, says Levine. If this is the case, “look for moisturizers that are soothing and calming,” she says. “Those with ceramides can provide extra hydration, while hydrocortisone can be helpful in areas of inflammation.”

Additionally, research shows that low ceramide levels have been linked to atopic dermatitis or eczema.

For eczema-prone skin, Levine recommends a thick moisturizer — either a ceramide-based cream or an ointment like Aquaphor or Vaseline. And be sure to avoid anything with harsh chemicals or fragrances.

People with rosacea should look for products with anti-inflammatory agents. “Green tea creams are especially good for rosacea,” says Levine.

Additional reporting by Tiarra Mukherjee.

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