As the seasons change, our skin tends to change along with them. The summer brings humidity, and with it, if the skin is being properly looked after, hydration and suppleness. As the fall approaches, we have to take into consideration the cooler temperatures and lack of humidity in the air. There are some things that should remain constant, such as sunscreen application. But, depending on your skin type, additional help may be required to get you through the fall and into a healthy winter skin.
For those with a drier skin type or aging skin or taking medications that dry out the skin (e.g. cholesterol reducing pills), the addition of a serum or more intense moisturizer containing vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid will help to keep the skin hydrated against the threats of forced air gas in our homes and heaters in our cars. In North America, over 80% of people are dehydrated especially during the fall and winter months. If you absolutely love your current moisturizer, you can simply add a serum to your daily routine. It will add extra moisture without disturbing the oil content of your skin.
Skin can take on a duller appearance as skin cell renewal slows down as the weather gets colder. Adding a mild exfoliator to your regime 1-2 times a week will keep the glow in your skin with the added benefit of allowing your good quality home care to penetrate deeper into the skin. It is important year round to be sure that the products you use are appropriate for your skin type and that they are of a quality that produces results, but not irritation.
It may be necessary to use a cream cleanser or a milder version of your gel cleanser in the colder weather as well. It will allow the skin to keep some of the oil that is necessary for a proper pH balance and not throw off the water content in the skin. I find that an oilier skin will do better with a mild gel cleanser whereas the patient with a dry skin type can use a cream cleanser more readily in the fall, if she hasn’t already been doing so.
As for the aforementioned sunscreen application, I always say the same thing to all of my patients. If it is daytime, and you are outside (or in your car) then you need sunscreen. Period. Sunscreen doesn’t last all day, so if you are out a lot or in and out all day, it is recommended that you reapply as needed. People tend to believe that if it is overcast, raining or snowing, that the sun’s ultraviolet radiation isn’t coming through…Not true! Although we may be out for shorter periods in the colder weather, if it is daytime, the sun is still there and its damaging rays. Photodamage (free radical damage from the sun) causes skin to age quicker than smoking, drinking and environmental pollution. If you want to keep your skin looking great for as long as possible, then sunscreen is the easiest, and really, the cheapest way to avoid more costly reparative solutions later on. Prevention is always key!
If you have been considering treatments in clinic, especially laser or chemical peels, the fall is the best time to start. We are out in the sun less often and side effects from all treatments are greatly reduced with sun avoidance. For those who have noticed freckling on the face or body or have noticed melasma starting or darkening over the summer, this is the time to start corrective procedures. There has always been a trend for those interested in laser hair removal to start in the fall as well. As these procedures are quite often done in multiple sessions, by the time the following summer nears, you will be ready with clean, clear skin or smooth legs, bikini line or underarms.
Finally, I recommend maintenance treatments for the skin such as facials or microdermabrasion to be done quarterly for those with good skin as a way to keep the pores clean and a healthy glow in check. I suggest coming into the clinic for a facial or microdermabrasion at the beginning of each season to help clear out build-up of dead skin cells that may be blocking the surface of the skin. In doing so, your home care products will penetrate deeper into the skin and help keep the skin balanced, no matter what the seasons throw at you. If you are unsure of what skin type you have or have questions about proper home care for this time of year, see a skin care professional. Consults are free and the information you will acquire can make a world of difference.
~ Sheri Roselle, Medical Esthetician at Toronto Dermatology Centre