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Should You Change Your Skincare Routine for Fall?

A woman looking at her skin with concern in a large makeup mirror.
insta_photos/Shutterstock

Is your skin acting differently now that summer’s on its way out? You might need a new skincare routine!

Fall brings changes in weather and, depending on where you live, those changes can be drastic. Colder temps, reduced humidity, and even spending less time in the sun can all impact your skin. As a result, your summer skincare routine might not work as well.

Here’s everything you need to know to properly care for your skin this fall.

How Seasonal Changes Affect Your Skin

For the lucky few, seasonal changes won’t have any noticeable impact on their skin. However, many of us (especially those who have sensitive or acne-prone skin) might notice a shift.

Generally, skin thrives on minimal changes. This is why, when you try a new product, it might initially cause a breakout. Similarly, any changes in weather can trigger breakouts, dryness, and other skin problems, at least until your face has time to adjust. The more sudden or drastic the changes, the more likely you are to notice unpleasant changes on your face.

Your home routines might also change with the seasons, which can impact your skin as well. For example, showering in hotter water or turning the home heat on can dry out your skin. Added stress due to the start of the school year or the impending holidays can also affect your face.

Do You Need to Change Your Skincare Routine for Fall?

In autumn, temperatures and humidity levels tend to drop. While this can mean less pore-clogging sweat, it can also mean your skin gets dry faster.

Dryness sometimes manifests as a tight feeling or dry patches on the face. However, it can also lead to breakouts, as your skin might start producing more oil to overcompensate for the dry air.

Of course, if your skin still thrives in the fall, you won’t need to change a thing! If, however, you notice some breakouts, dry patches, or uncomfortably dry or oily skin, it’s time for a change. Try to start as soon as possible, though, as any issues will likely just get worse as the weather continues to change.

How to Transition Your Skincare Routine

If you’re unsure what you need to change for fall, the following ideas should provide a starting point based on what you’re experiencing.

A Richer Moisturizer

Help your skin navigate the drier air and colder weather with some additional hydration. This will keep dry patches at bay and also reduce any acne from the overproduction of oil your skin produces when it tries to self-hydrate.

Pay close attention to the ingredients in the products you try, so you’ll know which work best for your skin. For example, if you have acne-prone skin, a moisturizer that contains antibacterial honey might do the trick.

All-Natural Hydration

Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizing Cream - Natural Hydrating Face Moisturizer

It's tough to go wrong with this rich, all-natural moisturizer.

Additional Oil

Skin-friendly, plant-based oils can also help your skin hold on to the hydration it needs. Try products that contain oils like coconut or rosehip. You can also buy oils individually and apply them directly to your skin.

If putting oil on your face feels gross, do it only at night. You might feel greasy and shiny, but your skin will appreciate the additional moisture.

Best for a Dewy Glow

Glossier Futuredew Oil Serum Hybrid

Make this your final step in the morning for an all-day dewy look.

A Hydrating Serum

Sometimes, a moisturizer alone won’t cut it. You can also layer a hydrating serum under your moisturizer for an added dose of fall protection. Hydrating serums also help lock in moisture before you apply other layers, like your foundation.

Exfoliate Less

Exfoliation is great for keeping your pores clear, and your skin glowing. However, too much of this good thing can speed up the drying, irritating effects of fall weather.

Try exfoliating less often or with a lighter touch, as the weather shifts. You might also want to ditch the harsher physical exfoliators for chemical ones.

Use a Gentler Cleanser

A powerful cleanser can be great for summer, but too harsh for fall and winter. Creamy or oil-based formulas might suit your face better during these times of the year.

Affordable Cleansing

Burt's Bees Cleansing Oil with Coconut & Argan Cleanser, 6 Ounce

Gentle, but still capable of removing dirt and oil buildup.

Use Softer Tools

Be gentler with your application tools, as well. For example, cleansing with a scrubby-textured washcloth or removing makeup with a textured cotton pad can irritate your skin.

Whenever possible, just use clean fingers to apply cleansers and products, and then pat (rather than rub) your face dry with a towel.

Use Sunscreen Daily

Even though fall often means fewer sunny days and less time spent outside, don’t skimp on the sunscreen. Sun damage can occur even on cloudy days. In fact, those harmful rays can even penetrate windows while you’re inside.

Sure, there will be less risk of a sunburn, but it’s still important to include sunscreen in your daily skincare routine all year. Instead of slathering on any old sunscreen, though, look for a skin-friendly product that will also help with hydration.

Try One New Product at a Time

Try these ideas, but don’t try them all at once! Introducing too many new products to your face simultaneously can make your skin issues worse, not better. Plus, you won’t be able to tell which product is causing you problems.

Change one product at a time. Also, be sure you give each product some time to work before you make any further changes. Most people won’t need an entire skincare overhaul every season—just one or two different products will likely work well for you.

For many, products that work well in the fall will also work for winter, as it presents the same threats (cold air and dryness) to thriving skin, just more intensely.

So, start out by making a few changes during the transitional time of fall. By the end of winter, you’ll know what works best for you during the colder months.


It’s hard to be patient when you just want to find a magic cure for your skin woes. If you experiment with these ideas and still can’t find a solution, consult a dermatologist. There are so many skin treatments and techniques available now, you might just need a professional to guide you.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »

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