As the days grow shorter and temperatures begin to cool, you may have noticed changes in your skin—tighter, drier, and more prone to irritation. The decrease in humidity during the fall can impact our skin barrier, making it more vulnerable to moisture loss and discomfort.
To navigate these seasonal shifts, we sought guidance from Dr. Renita Ahluwalia, Medical and Cosmetic Dermatology Lecturer at the University of Toronto and Lead Dermatologist at the Canadian Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Centre. Dr. Ahluwalia shares her insights on moisturizers, effective hydration strategies for the fall, and an optimal skincare routine.
Moisturizers and Hydration Techniques:
If you've ever felt overwhelmed by the array of moisturizing products available, you're not alone. Dr. Ahluwalia breaks down moisturizers into three main types: humectants, emollients, and occlusives. "Humectants draw water into the skin and are more lightweight," explains Ahluwalia. Found in serums and creams, these may include ingredients like hyaluronic acid. While a light humectant might suffice in the summer, the fall often calls for more intensive hydration.
Emollients, the second type, become particularly crucial in the fall and winter. They contain ingredients such as ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids, filling the gaps between skin cells and sealing the skin barrier. The third type, occlusives like shea butter and petroleum jelly, create a protective layer on the skin. These prove beneficial for dry skin conditions like eczema.
Ahluwalia suggests embracing a combination of these moisturizer types, employing a popular technique known as "skin flooding." This involves saturating the skin with moisture to prevent issues like dryness, itching, redness, and flaking. By using specific ingredients to hydrate each layer of the skin, this method helps maintain skin health.
For example, those with very dry or eczema-prone skin might follow a sequence of a humectant, followed by an emollient, and then an occlusive like pure shea butter, Vaseline, or Aquaphor. Dr. Ahluwalia advises reducing exfoliation during this process to prevent further dehydration.
Optimal Skincare Routine for Autumn:
As the fall season unfolds, Dr. Ahluwalia recommends adjusting your skincare routine accordingly:
Cleansing: Switch to a gentle cleanser to avoid stripping essential oils from the skin.
Moisturizing: Incorporate a combination of humectants, emollients, and occlusives to combat dryness and strengthen the skin barrier.
Sun Protection: Even in the cooler months, protect your skin with broad-spectrum sunscreen, especially if you spend extended periods outdoors.
Reduced Exfoliation: Scale back on exfoliation to prevent over-stripping the skin of moisture.
By embracing these expert tips and tailoring your skincare routine to the autumn season, you can nurture your skin, keeping it healthy, hydrated, and resilient in the face of changing weather conditions.