Fall: The weather's changing and so should your skin care regimen

Post date: Nov 12, 2015 8:24:07 PM

Fall is upon us which means blustery winds, pumpkin flavored everything and cozying up in chunky sweaters. It also means shorter days, dry skin and staticky hair. Fall tends to wreak havoc on our beauty routines and snatches away the glow of summer skin. Much like the falling leaves on trees, our skin dries out leaving us with a dull, ashen appearance. As a physician, dryness and itchiness is one of the main skin concerns we see this time of year. We may see this in varying degrees ranging anywhere from severe eczema to mild Xerosis, and treatments will vary depending on diagnosis and severity.

To avoid increasing dryness as our weather changes, there are a few helpful hints which can help us keep our skin noticeably softer and smoother.

  1. "Now that's some high quality H2O"

As the weather gets cooler, we often times forget to drink enough fluids to stay adequately hydrated. Just applying a moisturizer is not enough. Would you water a plant just by wiping the leaves with a wet towel? I didn't think so. Make sure you allow the water to get to the roots so that the plant can hydrate from the inside out! Your skin is very much the same. Avoid alcohol as well as sugary and caffeine laden drinks since these too can reflect poorly in the skin. Water is always the best choice when making that decision, and make sure you get plenty of it. When patients ask me about the appropriate amount of water to be drinking, I usually don't recommend a standard amount since it depends on your individual needs. As a mentor in my residency program used to say "drink till you pee clear!". Not only will it keep the skin glowing and free of breakouts, it will curb overeating, headaches and fatigue of dehydration and urinary tract infections to name a few benefits.

2. "Don't go chasing waterfalls"

Avoid the temptation of a warm bath as outside temperatures fall. Try to spend more time with water in you rather than you in it. Shorter, lukewarm showers will help minimize the drying effect that water can have on the skin. The heat of the water, as well as soap strip the skin, nails and hair of its natural oils which allows moisture in your skin, hair and nails to escape.

3. "Shake it off, shake it off"

Shake off that excess dead/dry skin by exfoliating. A gentle scrub down twice a week should help those extra skin cells move on rather than lingering around giving you that dull, ashen appearance. This also helps keep those pores free of debris causing acne!

4. "Put your lotion into motion"

The primary goal of lotions is to lock in moisture. Using a thicker emollient or skin cream will help create a natural barrier so that the skin traps in the excess moisture. Certain compounds can also penetrate and eventually be absorbed through our skin depending on solubility and chemical size as well, so keep your moisturizer simple. As a general rule for my patients, I have them switch over to products that come in a tub or a tube. Anything in a pump form typically is too thin or may be alcohol based which may dry out the skin even more. Switching to a cream based cleanser may also help.

5."Ain't no sunshine..."

Just because we have a few gloomy days, it doesn't give us a reason to ditch the SPF. According to the American academy of dermatologists, up to 80% of the sun's UV rays can pass through the clouds. Sun exposed skin can cause a slow loss of moisture and oils in the skin making it appear dry and flakey, causing wrinkling, even in younger skin. An SPF of at least 30 with a broad spectrum sun screen should be part of your daily routine.

6. "Vitamin A to keep the dermatologist away"

As a physician that spends most of my time learning about, teaching and treating damaged aging skin, I always recommend a vitamin A based product such as a Retin-A or tazorac in my non pregnant, non-lactating patients. While these can dry out the skin, it is one of the best wrinkle AND acne fighter we have in our arsenal. However, if you experience excessive dryness, switch to every other or every third day, and use a thick moisturizer as a chaser.

Although our regimens may need a few adjustments with the seasons, overall skin care is a process like flossing and exercise, you need to be consistent to see results!