Don't get us wrong—we love fall as much as the next pumpkin spice–sipping, sweater-wearing person, but we don't love what it can do to our skin. Unsurprisingly, the seasonal transition has as much of an impact on our skin health and appearance as it does on our lifestyles. With a string of holidays looming in the not so distant future, stress is running high, and not to mention, there's a whole new weather pattern to consider. These things take a toll.
Fortunately, the solution is usually as simple as updating our skincare routines and daily habits to accommodate. To find out what we can do to reset our skin, we reached out to leading dermatologist and former professor of clinical medicine at the University of Hawaii, Megin C. Scully, MD. She filled us in on which skin issues to look out for this season and how to remedy them. To our pleasant surprise, each expert-approved fall skincare tip is super low-maintenance. So read on below to find out her four fall skincare tips, as well as the common mistakes to avoid for clear, glowing skin this season.
The Change: More Sugar TemptationsThe Fix: Avoid Refined, Processed Foods
"The temptation of carbohydrate-rich foods around the holidays can flare some people's acne," says Scully. Unhealthy eating habits tend to skyrocket around this time of year, thanks to sugary treats on Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the upcoming winter holidays as well. Plus, we tend to crave comfort foods, and processed, refined carbs with high-glycemic indexes raise insulin levels, and thus, result in inflammation in our bodily tissue, including skin. Let's put it this way: The bad news is that your favorite junk food treats and comfort meals may be contributing to acne, but the good news is that you can prevent future breakouts by avoiding them as much as possible.
The Change: Less Sun, Same DamageThe Fix: DiligentSPF Application
Even though the weather is changing and the sun is making fewer and fewer appearances, "don't relax your sun protection," Scully reminds us. If you've stopped applying sunscreen during your morning routine now that it's no longer summer, you may want to reconsider. She explains that "the skin-damaging UVA rays are present from dawn until dusk year-round," and they even penetrate fog and windows. Some sun damage–related issues include dryness, actinic keratosis (small scaly dry patches), and mild sunburns, and diligent SPF application is key to prevention.
Though it's one of the most common skincare mistakes this season, it's arguably the most important to remedy.
The Change: Colder Weather, Dryer SkinThe Fix: Use Cream, Not Lotion
"With the weather getting colder, the air drier, and buildings turning up their heat, we tend to see more eczema, rosacea, and other dry skin–related issues." If you're still using the same moisturizers that got the job done for thirsty skin during the humid summer months, this may the problem, as you want to "modify moisturizers depending on the degree of dryness" in the air. Scully also recommends "switching from lotions to creams" since they offer more intense hydration. If you're having a flare-up of eczema, you "may need to pull out [your] topical steroids," which come in over-the-counter creams and ointments.
And though you should always stay hydrated, it's especially important for our skin health when the environment is drier.
The Problem: Busier Lifestyle, More StressThe Fix: Management Techniques
Scully explains that there's an increase in stress-related skin issues around this time of year due to hectic back-to-school schedules and the approaching holiday season. And though it isn't a direct cause of acne, stress can cause breakouts because it triggers a hormonal release that results in excessive oil production. So if you're breaking out and feel extra stressed lately, consider exploring some management techniques, like a workout class, yoga, meditation, or therapy. These lifestyle adjustments may help you reduce stress levels in your body, which will probably improve the condition of your skin as well.