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It’s officially Fall, and with the cooler weather, changing leaves, and pumpkin spiced lattes, also comes less desirable skin changes. During the fall and winter months, the cold, dry weather can quickly transform a dewy summer glow into a flaky and red complexion. Read on to learn why this happens and how to adjust your skincare routine. 

What causes dry skin?

During the fall and winter months, humidity levels drop, causing the air to be much drier. As a result, moisture evaporates from your skin much quicker than it does during the more humid summer months. As your skin dries, the skin barrier function becomes compromised, leading to red, dry, tight, and flaky skin.

What can you do?
Change up your moisturizer

The first thing you should do as the weather begins to cool is change up your moisturizer. All moisturizers add hydration to your skin, but heavier, thicker moisturizers are ideal for the fall and winter months. This is because thicker moisturizers are better at locking in hydration by preventing evaporation. There are three main components to moisturizers: humectants, emollients, and occlusives. Humectants like ceramides, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid will attract moisture to the skin. Emollients are skin conditioning agents that help soften the skin by filling in the lines, and occlusive agents create a physical barrier to trap in moisture.

During the colder months, look for moisturizers rich in emollients and occlusive agents to lock in hydration and restore skin barrier function. These ingredients are commonly lipids and oils like squalene, shea butter, lanolin, mineral oil, petrolatum, and silicone derivatives that create a protective layer to trap moisture and improve skin barrier function.

Try a face oil

With oily, acne-prone skin, adding a face oil into your skincare routine can sound downright terrifying, but it also might be the one step your skincare routine needs. Your skin produces oil as a natural emollient to protect the skin barrier. When the skin is stripped of its natural oils, your body will produce more oil in response to continue to protect the skin.

It’s important to note, though, that not all oils are created equally. Using the right oils are essential to add back moisture and signal your skin to produce less pore-clogging sebum. Products that contain tea tree oil, jojoba oil, or squalene are ideal for acne and can be mixed into your daily moisturizer or applied on top to work as an extra occlusive agent.


No matter what your skin type is, consistent exfoliation is the key to healthy skin. During the winter months, your skin cells die and dry out faster. Exfoliating twice a week with a more concentrated exfoliating agent or daily with a gentle exfoliating agent will help buff away these dead skin cells, which is essential to prevent pores from clogging. If you have acne or acne-prone skin, consider using an exfoliant with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that can penetrate sebum deep into pores to break apart dead skin cells.

Start new habits

During the fall and winter months, it’s a good idea to change some of the daily habits contributing to dry skin. Switch to a gentle cleanser to ensure that you’re not over-cleansing and stripping your skin, and even though it feels amazing, use a cooler water temperature when showering and washing your face to prevent irritation. You should also avoid scrubbing your face with any makeup remover cloths or towels to prevent irritation and redness and consider adding a humidifier to your room at night to minimize evaporation from your skin.  

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