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How to Transition to a Fall Skincare Routine

Although I am never quite ready to say goodbye to summer, the truth is, I bust out my sweaters and boots as fast as humanly possible once fall is here. Fall fashion is just the best.

While we are becoming true pros at transitioning our closets from summer to fall, we should be paying more attention to our skincare routines, too. That's because as we move into autumn, the weather changes—and our skin’s reaction to the new temperatures does, too.

Cooler months mean less humidity, which helps moisture stay in the skin and acts as a protective barrier. When it is colder outside, the air gets drier, and the skin starts losing moisture—causing the barrier to be disrupted, which leads to sensitivity, dryness, and irritation. Additionally, factors such as indoor heaters increase the skin’s dryness and can also affect the barrier. 

So, as your skin’s needs change with the ever-changing weather, it is crucial to swap out that summer skin routine for a fall-friendly one. 

When should I start my fall skincare routine? 

As we all know, there is quite the dance of temperature, come September and October. Some days, we feel as if we are still in the middle of summer, and other days we are busting out the parkas. However, when it comes to swapping in your newfound fall skincare routine, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. 

An easy meter is noting how often you are reaching for a light jacket before stepping outside. If your jacket-wearing days are starting to outnumber your sleeveless days, it may be time to switch things up. When it is cold enough to see your breath in the morning, please take it as a sign that you should start that new routine, stat. 

Ultimately, the best deciding factor is to listen to your body—or rather, listen to your skin. People with more sensitive or dry skin will likely need to make adjustments sooner than those with oily or combination skin. 

Tip for the ultimate fall skincare routine

Adjust your cleansers

During the summer months, we will go to extreme lengths to wash the sweat, sand, and grime off of our faces, and it takes some pretty intense cleansers to do so. But in the winter, when there is less moisture and ultimately less sweat, those carpet-level cleaners are just too intense.

Our skin also produces less oil in the cooler months, so cleaners that strip away natural oil will intensify the dryness. Using acne-focused cleaners made with salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide should be avoided as the weather gets cooler, as these harsh ingredients can also have a negative effect.

Instead, opt for a gentle, creamy product or even try a cream-to-oil cleanser.

Give these a try: 

Herbivore Pink Cloud Cleanser

For a gentle but effective, low-foaming cleanser, give Herbivore’s Pink Cloud a try. It effectively cleanses and removes makeup without irritating the skin, leaving it clean—but does not strip off its moisture. The jelly cleanser uses rosewater and tremella to create a pH-balanced formula that's perfect for your fall skin routine. It is formulated without sulfates and synthetics to a clean beauty go-to. 

Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser

Packed with kale, spinach, and green tea, it’s easy to see why this Youth to the People cleanser is a superfood, too. The cleanser is gentle enough for daily use and is crafted with cold-pressed antioxidants to give you the ultimate healthy cleanse. Kale is rich in skin-loving phytonutrients and vitamins C, E, and K. Spinach is a lightweight skin-soother with high natural moisture content and cooling properties. And green tea is the ultimate anti-inflammatory oil packed with essential fatty acids. 

2. Add extra hydration

As the skin transitions, it is common for people with sensitive skin to experience overly dry and flaky skin. The best thing you can do is add some extra hydration during that time. Coating your skin with essential oils, serums, and creams helps nourish the skin to recover. Opting for a thicker moisturizer is especially important before bed to compensate for the lack of moisture in the air. 

Give these a try: 

Poppy Austin Hyaluronic Acid Serum

For the face, give this serum a try. Poppy Austin is a trusted brand for cruelty-free and vegan skincare. The Hyaluronic Acid Serum is packed with vitamin C and green tea to penetrate deep into the skin’s layers and provide intense moisture. If you don’t like the heaviness of thicker lotions, opting for a serum instead is a great option. This serum also has zero additives, parabens, silicones, fillers, or artificial fragrances.

Avalon Organics Hand & Body Lotion

For the body, Avalon’s nourishing lavender lotion provides deep hydration with a great blend of lavender essential oil, aloe vera, vitamin E, and beta-glucan. It restores the skin’s lipid balance for long-lasting hydration, great for extra dry skin. The lotion contains natural and organic ingredients without the use of parabens, harsh preservatives, or harmful sulfates. 

Pacifica Color Quench Lip Tint

Don’t forget those lips. The skin on our lips can sometimes get even drier than the rest of our body and require special attention. Pacifica’s Color Quench Lip Tint is extra moisturizing, thanks to ingredients like avocado and coconut oil. And if you like a little tint with your balm, this one is for you. It leaves lips with a nice subtle pink shade. 

3. Add Eye Creams

While we will certainly advocate for this year-round, eye cream is essential in the colder months. Just as the skin on your face and lips needs extra hydration, the delicate skin under your eyes needs some increased TLC. In addition to increased moisture, eye cream is also helpful to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, decrease puffiness, and soothe tired eyes. The skin under the eye is also vulnerable and prone to irritants. Eye cream helps to protect that delicate skin and adds resilience.

Give this a try:

Acure Radically Rejuvenating Eye Cream

More than just good for anti-aging, this rejuvenating cream from Acure also helps to restore skin that has taken a hit from stress, lack of sleep, and all the other variables in our busy lives. It’s packed with high-quality plant botanicals, extracts, and antioxidants. Edelweiss extract and chlorella provide deep hydration to prevent further trouble and minimize the appearance of fine lines.

4. Cut down on exfoliation 

This one obviously makes a lot of sense. Our skin is already irritated in the fall; let’s not add to that irritation with abrasive exfoliants. While in the hot months, we need to scrub all heat of the day away; that isn’t the case in the cold. Other ingredients to cut back on include retinoids and glycolic acid. Exfoliating once or twice a week should be plenty during these months, and definitely opt for a more gentle scrub. A rule of thumb is anything that makes your skin sting, burn, or turn pink is probably too irritating.

Give this a try: 

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

While we still advise against using it every day in the colder months, this exfoliant from Dermalogica is actually safe to use more often. This one comes in powder form, and the user adds water to create a creamy paste. The vegan formula contains rice bran to scrub and remove dead skin cells gently. It leaves your skin feeling smooth but not stripped. 

Keep that sunscreen coming. 

While the UV radiation is greater during the summer months, it is still present through the rest of the year. Even when the rays aren’t as strong, sunscreen still helps to decrease the incoming UV radiation. UV radiation can accelerate and increase the risk of sunscreen so, lather up. Additionally, it is important to make sure that your sunscreen is reef-friendly, meaning that it doesn’t contain reef harming chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are the two most common coral bleaching ingredients. While you certainly can use the same cream you lathered up with all summer, it is safe to move to a light coverage option for fall. 

Give these a try:

Drunk Elephant Tinted Sunscreen

This tinted option from Drunk Elephant offers light coverage that doesn’t feel heavy. It offers UVA and UVA protection and helps aid in the protection from free radicals and oxidative damage. It’s great to offer that bit of protection and glow needed for the cooler months. 

Pacifica Mineral Body Butter

Let’s be real: it is nice to keep a little bit of that summer glow going into the fall and this bronzing butter from Pacifica gives you a sun-kissed glow while also serving up SPF 50 protection. It is loaded with high-quality ingredients such as shea butter, caffeine, and zinc oxide.

Grab our full guide to the best mineral sunscreens here.

8. Add a Humidifier Into the Mix

Along with an amplified fall skincare routine, adding a humidifier during the fall (and winter) months to boost hydration is a good addition. Humidifiers add moisture to the air and your skin is in constant contact with air. The more moisture in the air, the more moisture your skin can absorb. They can also help with cracked lips, allergies, and sinus headaches. 

Give these a try:

Winix Ultrasonic Humidifier

This humidifier is paired with a night mood light and boasts 30 hours of run time. The nearly silent machine allows you to adjust the mist level to create the perfect mist for you. 

Saje Aroma Om Stone

This chic diffuser sends bursts of calming aromatherapy into your home while also adding moisture. It releases negative ions to elevate your wellbeing and preserves the full integrity of your essential oil blends by using a heat-free system. It can run for 3 hours continuously or 6 hours intermittently and is so stylish it’ll blend right into your decor.

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NOTE: A product appearing in our blog is not an official Kinder Beauty endorsement. While every product we feature in an article is cruelty-free and vegan, these products do not necessarily meet our strict brand curation standards.

Jackie Lutze has been writing about cruelty-free beauty for years and loves finding the best vegan products to help readers build their ultimate beauty routine.