We’re right in the thick of autumn and moving towards winter; the days are getting chillier, and you can practically smell the apple cider in the air. As we swap our short sleeves for knit sweaters and baseball caps for beanies, we need to adjust our skincare routines too! The colder weather and drier conditions of fall and winter are often harsh on our skin, so here are some tips and product recommendations for healthy skin this season.
Tip #1: Still use a high SPF sunscreen, but make sure it’s lightweight!
One major misconception about fall and winter skincare is that you no longer need sunscreen! While the sun may not be nearly as visible or strong as it is in summer, UV rays are relentless and will come for you regardless of the season! UV rays penetrate through clouds, glass, fabric, and more—you need sunscreen during fall and winter, PERIOD.
90% of premature aging is caused by sun exposure. Don’t skip out on sunscreen and fast forward your skin by 20 years! (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but the point still stands.)
When you’re using heavier products like thick creams during your morning routine in the colder seasons to protect your skin from environmental stressors, you might feel like adding an extra layer of sunscreen is overkill and suffocating for your skin. That’s why we recommend a lightweight sunscreen that’s still hydrating and won’t weigh down your skin like your beach sun creams in the summer!
Neogen Day-light Protection Airy Sunscreen SPF 50+
Neogen’s Day-light Protection Airy Sunscreen SPF 50+ is exactly the sunscreen for the job! True to its name, it’s the more lightweight younger sibling of the OG Neogen Day-light Protection Sunscreen, with the same high SPF. Since it's a chemical sunscreen, it’s thinner and more easily absorbed by the skin, unlike physical sunscreens which often feel like a film sitting on top of skin. The Airy Sunscreen is also broad spectrum, so you know both those pesky UVA and UVB rays are ignored, blocked, and reported from wreaking havoc on your skin.
If you’re looking for added benefits besides sun protection alone, the Airy Sunscreen also incorporates 20 plant extracts to do the absolute most for your skin. Damask rose, aloe vera, raspberry, avocado extracts also nourish and hydrate the skin for the final step in your morning skincare routine!
Tip #2: Layer your humectant lip balm with an occlusive lip balm!
If you’ve ever wondered why your lips get drier after using a hydrating lip balm, look at the ingredients list. Are the ingredients all humectants? If so, you might want to switch to an occlusive lip balm. Humectants are moisturizing ingredients that attract water to the surface layer of the skin. Applying humectant lip balm to dry lips can actually cause your lips to get drier if the environment has little humidity, as humectants will draw moisture from the deeper layers of your skin instead. Without emollient or occlusive ingredients to seal the moisture in place, the moisture drawn from the deeper layers of your skin unfortunately evaporates on the surface layer.
You can still use a humectant lip balm, but make sure it includes occlusive ingredients to prevent moisture from evaporating. If you have an all-humectant lip balm and want to layer an occlusive lip balm on top for maximum moisturizing benefits, we recommend Holy Snails’ Sheepish Lanolin Lip Balm!
Holy Snails Sheepish Lanolin Lip Balm
Full of barrier-fortifying ingredients like shea butter and lanolin, Holy Snails gives us the occlusive lip balm we deserve this season without all the heaviness! Lanolin and argan oil mimic the skin’s natural moisture and sebum, so this lip balm feels extremely comfortable without any greasiness or waxiness.
Let’s list out the ingredients: shea butter, beeswax, lanolin, argan oil, coconut oil, flavoring. Of the SIX ingredients in this lip balm, FIVE are occlusives/emollients that improve the rough appearance of lips and seal in moisture. Whether you’re wearing a humectant lip balm under or wearing it alone, this occlusive lip balm will take care of your dry, flaky lips and ensure that they thrive this season.
Tip #3: If you’re an avid acid user, make sure it’s gentle!
We are avid proponents of acids for the face. Acids are some of the best skincare products around for fighting rough texture, hyperpigmentation, acne, and much, much more. But when colder weather in the fall and winter begins to cause dry, flaky skin, try dialing back your stronger acids to avoid agitating seasonally sensitive skin or limiting your acid usage to a few times a week.
When your skin barrier is damaged due to colder weather, moisture escapes your skin more easily and environmental pollutants are more likely to get past your skin barrier. This means that even though some acids are able to promote cell renewal and therefore strengthen the skin barrier, they are also furthering water loss through exfoliation. As such, it’s extra important to replenish moisture after exfoliating with an acid.
Instead of using harsher acids like salicylic acid and glycolic acid, there are some milder options to consider!
AM+PM Total Brightening Renewal Treatment Mandelic Acid 5%
Mandelic acid is one of the most gentle acids ever, since its molecular size is large and therefore unable to penetrate too deeply into the skin. Even at its more shallow level, though, mandelic acid is still a fantastic choice for brightening dark spots and evening out skin tone.
You might have seen a lot of mandelic acid products on the market with concentrations of anywhere from a wide range of 10% to 50%. This mandelic acid treatment is so gentle, it clocks in at 5%.
“Only 5%? How will that do anything for my skin?” you scoff.
For one, the risk of irritating your skin runs extremely low! While you might be forgoing the faster results from a higher concentration, you’re also ensuring that you don’t dry out your skin from overexfoliating. Plus, this gentle chemical exfoliant also includes Vitamins B3, B5, and hyaluronic acid to replenish moisture and plump the skin.
Tip #4: Use pH-balanced products to maintain skin health!
No, this isn’t a new or seasonal-only tip, but it’s often overlooked in a skincare routine. The reason why it’s so important to use pH-balanced products is because our skin’s natural pH level is around 5.5. Anything too acidic or too basic can damage the skin’s barrier function, which in turn disrupts the skin barrier’s ability to protect the skin from external irritants.
So what’s the pH range we should be looking for in our skincare products? Anywhere from 4.5 to 6.5 is generally safe, although everyone’s skin is different and may be able to handle more acidic or basic pH levels.
Even if a product doesn’t mention its pH level, it could still be pH-balanced, so don’t automatically shun it! To know what a product’s pH level is, you can see for yourself using a pH test strip. (Or you can simply Google it and cross-reference different sources, we won’t judge!)
Since pH-balanced products are a must for healthy skin, we’re showing you some of our favorite pH-balanced cleansers, toners, and moisturizers!
Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Foam Facial Cleanser
Even though this cleanser doesn’t explicitly mention its pH level on the bottle itself, it has a pH level of about 5.5. In fact, all Hada Labo Gokujyun products are formulated to have a pH level of around 5.0-6.5.
In addition to its optimal pH level, this JBeauty cult fave also prevents dry skin with two different types of hyaluronic acid. We love the way this cleanser gently but effectively cleanses skin while regulating the skin’s moisture level!
Other noteworthy pH-balanced cleansers include the Heimish All Clean Green Foam, Etude House Soon Jung Whip Cleanser, and CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser!
Pyunkang Yul Essence Toner
Like the Hada Labo foam cleanser, Pyunkang Yul’s Essence Toner doesn’t mention its pH level. However, it’s one of our favorite toners at a pH level of about 4.7. Not only is this toner pH-balanced, it’s also composed mostly of milk vetch root extract (91.3%!) to replenish dry, flaky skin. Milk vetch root extract’s smaller particle size penetrates the skin easily, delivering antioxidants and hydration to improve skin health and moisture.
Other pH-balanced toners that pass our vibe check include the Etude House Soon Jung PH 5.5 Relief Toner, KEEP COOL Soothe Bamboo Toner, and Haruharu WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner.
Etude House Soon Jung Hydro Barrier Cream
Etude House’s entire Soon Jung line is a pH-balanced dream come true! Their Hydro Barrier Cream, in particular, is perfectly aligned with our skin’s natural pH level at 5.5.
We also have to highlight this Soon Jung moisturizer for really fortifying the skin barrier beyond just optimizing pH. Etude House’s special Panthensoside™ combines panthenol and madecassoside, both of which are the skin barrier’s knights in shining armor. Panthensoside™ protects the skin from external irritants while soothing and moisturizing skin.
Other pH-balanced moisturizers we love include the CosRX Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream and the Neogen Vita Duo Cream!
Most of these tips would be helpful year-round, but really shine when the weather gets colder and the environment drier. We hope this article helps you adjust your skincare routine!