Perfect Fall Skin in 5 Easy Steps

Just like you have to transition your warm weather wardrobe once fall strikes, changing up your skincare essentials is a must to maintain a gorgeous glow, too. Here, the top products, ingredients and habits to reverse sun damage, keep skin hydrated, protected—and healthy. Right. Now.

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“First, every day — or every other day — exfoliate gently,” says Neal Schultz, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and creator of Beauty Rx Skincare, who suggests looking for 8 to 10 percent glycolic acid on the label. “This will help to restore skin’s luster by breaking down clogging dead skin cells as well as plumping up any fine lines by adding subtle, natural volume.” Other acid-based exfoliants that will also slough away dulling debris: alpha hydroxyl acid or lactic acid.
Best Bets: Beauty RX Skincare By Dr. Schultz Advanced Exfoliating Therapy Pads, $70; Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Face Peel, $78 (for 30); Chanel Le Weekend De Chanel, $115


Antioxidants are year-round skincare staple because they prevent and reverse free radical damage — the out-of-control molecules that can wreak havoc in skin and cause DNA damage over time (they also as lead to premature aging!). Look for stable forms of vitamin C (so it keeps its potency) as well as other antioxidant powerhouses such as green or black tea, CoQ10, niacinamide or idebenone. Schultz says that while applying antioxidants in the morning post cleansing is effective, slathering these skin protectors on at night help them thoroughly penetrate and enhance their beauty benefit when you need them most.
Best Bets: Juara Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Mattefying Moisturizer, $48; Joanna Vargas Daily Hydrating Cream, $75; Tammy Fender Antioxidant Crème Orange & Neroli, $95


“Summer can be extremely harsh on skin — especially because of constant exposure to stronger UV rays that increase melanin production and lead to uneven skin tone,” says Schultz. While consistent exfoliation will help buff away any superficial hyperpigmentation, using a brightening treatment can target — and rid skin of — excess melanin. Plus, using this glow-getter once the damage is done (and UV exposure drops) is the best way to reverse and prevent future spots, says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC.
Best Bets: Lancome DreamTone Ultimate Dark Spot Corrector, $98; La Prairie White Caviar Spot Treatment, $150; Osmotics Cosmeceuticals Lighten FX 3D Dark Spot Remover, $58


Not only did a few months of sun exposure spur dryness, the lack of humidity when colder weather arrives can leave skin feeling — and looking — dehydrated. “Consider switching to a richer face, eye and lip treatment,” says Schultz. Look for moisturizers that contain shea butter, ceramides or hyaluronic acid, as these not only add hydration, they also help skin absorb and retain water, too, says Tanzi, who also suggests using a humidifier at night while sleeping to infuse moisture into the air.
Best Bets: Nuance Salma Hayek Intense Overnight Rejuvenator, $19.99; Kiehl’s Since 1851 Super Multi-Corrective Cream, $62; Orlane Super-Moisturizing Light Cream, $165


“It’s the cumulative effect of ultraviolet rays that will age the skin and increase the risk of skin cancer exponentially,” says Tanzi. “The easiest way to incorporate sun protection into your winter skincare routine is to use a moisturizer with a broad spectrum SPF so that it shields both UVA and UVB rays, which are both present year round.” Susan Stuart, MD, a dermatologist in La Jolla, California agrees: “When the season changes it is important to switch to a sunscreen that is not too sheer and also high in moisturizers.”
Best Bets: Avon Anew Clinical Skinvincible Multi-Shield Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $36; Dr. Brandt BB Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $39; Yes To Blueberries Daily Repairing Moisturizer SPF 30, $19.99