• MDermatology

Fall skin care : how to adjust your routine as the weather changes

By Dr Erum ILYAS

As the weather cools down it is normal for your skin to start to feel drier.  Your summer time routine may not work well as the humidity in the summer allows us to get away with a little less in the way of moisturizer.  If you are already using a moisturizer but still feeling dry, it’s worth adding in a hydrating serum containing hyaluronic acid.  These products are best used under moisturizers to supplement the hydration from your products.  They are lightweight and can really find their way in the superficial layers of skin.  

In terms of cleansing, many of my patients will say their skin can feel oilier or ‘greasier’ in the summer making them feel like washing their faces more often.  You may need to cut back on excess face washing since your skin will dry out even more from the soap and water action on the skin.

If you are using a retinol or retinoid for acne or anti aging, using these every night for some skin types in the winter will dry you out even further!  If supplementing your routine with lightweight hydrating serums and less face washes is still leaving your skin dry, try to cut back on these products to every other day use.

In the colder months there is less humidity in the air.  This cold air hitting exposed skin will draw moisture out of your skin and dry it out even further.  This will affect your face AND your hands! As the moisture evaporates off our skin it leaves behind a cracked porcelain like look to areas like hands and calves. 

In the winter you will find it less necessary to wash your face as frequently.  Less sweat and oil build up on the skin will make the need for this less necessary.


In the winter your SPF should not vary.  The reality is that UV exposure is year round.   Most people do not realize that the UV that reflects off of fresh snow is magnified by 4X!  Ski instructors and frequent skiers have a particularly high risk of skin cancer for this reason.  Remember that UV is invisible- its not something you feel or see but it can damage our skin deeply especially with chronic exposure.  The ‘heat’ we feel from the sun is from the infrared spectrum and this is not responsible for skin cancer.


If you feel both dry and scaly there is a good chance that your superficial skin cells are starting to shed or peel as they lose their hydration.  Moisturizing is important but the scaly feeling may not go away with this alone. Exfoliating with a light sugar scrub may help slough some of those superficial layers of skin. Follow this step with moisturizing to trap moisture back in the skin.

It is so important to moisturize right after every shower from head to toe.  Hot showers and soap will dry your skin out significantly.  It helps to apply moisturize right away to restore some of this lost hydration.  Think of your skin as not smooth like a wall but more like a cobblestone street.  When it is cooler out the mortar that holds those skin cells together starts to dry out. Your skin will feel irritated and sensitive.  One of the most common skin issues to see patients for in the winter is itching!  This can be prevented by taking the simple measure of moisturizing our skin from head to toe right after every shower.

Of course drinking water and/or electrolyte enriched drinks will help overall.  How much of this gets to the skin is difficult to say.  Since superficial hydration of the skin is more related to external exposures that our skin is exposed to it is worth focusing your efforts on the outside.  


Using a hydrating face mask is a great idea once a week or every other week to restore some moisture quickly.  If you are using anti-aging products, since so many of these work by drying or exfoliating the skin it is worth reducing their use to every other day or alternating days with products.  I find I see many patients in the winter with eyelid eczema that is likely associated with excess product use.

Montgomery  Dermatology, LLC

Phone (610) 265-1166

FAX (610) 265-1186

860 1st Ave #8b, King of Prussia, PA 19406
10000 Shannondell Drive, Audubon, PA 19403

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