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These Are The Skincare Switches To Make Now, According To An Expert

Vogue Arabia, January 2021. Photo: Carlos Teixeira

As we transition from late summer into winter, skin can experience changes in line with the seasonal shift. Whether it’s an increase in dryness, more congestion or a lack of vitality, it’s normal for skin to feel out of kilter as it adjusts to cooler temperatures, central heating and wind chill. To rebalance skin and ease it comfortably into the new season, here are some of the best skincare switches to make now.

Take an intuitive approach

Observation is one of the best tools you have in your skincare arsenal, and knowing what your skin instinctively needs can make a huge difference at this time of year. “Listen to your skin when you apply your skincare and see how it responds,” advises skin expert Fiona Brackenbury. “Your skin is your largest organ, and it’s the only one that will tell you when it’s not happy.” At this time of year, skin can often feel confused, with different areas requiring different treatments. If your skin is more oily than usual, use a gel or foaming cleanser and an SPF with moisturising properties instead of adding in a separate moisturizer. If you have any uneven pigmentation, address it with a targeted dark spot corrector. And if your cheeks feel drier than usual? Apply a ceramide-rich moisturizer to them.

Be intelligent with your ingredients

It can be tempting to counteract any dullness, pigmentation or breakouts with a host of high-strength actives. Although now is a time of change, it pays to exercise caution, especially when it comes to new exfoliating agents, which are often the first things we reach for in an attempt to restore some order. “It is tempting to go for the strongest and most active peels,” says Brackenbury. “But be careful about how you jump back into or increase your exfoliation [or] you may be facing more pigmentation and an increase in uneven skin texture.”

Instead of opting for acids that might inadvertently cause distress to the skin by stripping it of essential lubrication or destabilizing its delicate microbiome, look for exfoliating acids that bring plenty of hydration and moisture to the skin while simultaneously banishing dead skin cells. “Lactic acid, enzymes and polyhydroxy acids are all brilliant ingredients to look out for and will help your skin build back up without causing any stress,” adds Brackenbury.

Think about hydration

As we move into colder weather, the lack of moisture in the air means a lack of moisture in our skin too, which can quickly lead to a compromised skin barrier. In order to prevent the tell-tale signs of vulnerability like crepiness, roughness or more pronounced fine lines and wrinkles, it’s important to ensure skin is adequately hydrated. The best way to know what that means for your skin is to take an intuitive approach. “Listen to your skin,” advises Brackenbury. “The transition from summer to autumn is all about textures, layering and including ingredients that are hardworking. The strategy that worked for you over the summer may not be enough for your skin in the autumn.”

Don’t forget the essentials

Whatever you do, don’t let your quest for balanced skin get in the way of the non-negotiables, ie ingredients and products that should be part of your routine regardless of season, particularly antioxidants and SPF. The best way to tackle finding sun protection to use every day is trial and error; aside from providing broad spectrum protection, the best SPF is the one that you will actually want to use. If you try one but don’t love how tacky it feels or that it leaves a white cast, move on. Compliance is the biggest barrier when it comes to regular SPF usage so it’s important to find one that ticks your boxes, whether that means sitting well under make-up or mattifying the skin.

Meanwhile, think of antioxidants “as skin insurance, shielding the skin cells from environmental aggressors that can [cause] damage”, says Brackenbury. Vitamin C is one of the most researched antioxidants out there and is ideal if you’re looking to fade any UV-induced pigmentation and boost collagen production, while niacinamide is great during this transitional phase as it helps quell inflammation and improves skin texture and tone. On the other hand, resveratrol is known as the longevity molecule and has significant reparative qualities, while vitamin E is renowned for its ability to soothe and heal excessive dryness that may be exacerbated by the change in seasons.

Carve out time

Getting your skin back on track when it’s feeling out of sync does require a little effort. “Now is the time for some serious TLC,” advises Brackenbury. “Make your time count. When you’re having a bath, apply your hyaluronic acid to your face; the humidity in the bathroom boosts the power of this hero ingredient and draws more hydration into the skin.” If all you can manage is a rudimentary routine at the end of the night, that’s fine, but give the products you do use a helping hand. “Apply your skincare at least 30 minutes before hitting the bed – that way, none of it will rub off on your pillow.”

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