As the weather gets cooler and we come into autumn, many of us will be making changes to our wardrobes – putting away our summer clothes and getting out our snuggliest jumpers.
These kinds of shifts are second nature, but so many of us forget to switch up our skincare routines to suit the new season.
Consultant dermatologist at skindoc Dr Sreedhar Krishna says: "Put simply, the main role of our skin is to keep the good stuff inside and the bad stuff outside – think of solid windows on a wintry night. However, our skin needs some help to get this done."
He sees many of the same mistakes being made during this time of year. "At best, they are innocently harmless, but at worst could actually open your skin up to irritation and damage,"
If you want to keep your skin healthy throughout autumn and winter, try to avoid these mistakes…
1. Not wearing sunscreen every day
It’s easy to remember to slather on sunscreen during summer when you want to protect your skin from sun damage. While it might not be as obvious when the days are darker and the sun looks weaker, it’s just as crucial to finish off your morning routine with SPF.
"There is less ambient sunlight in these months than at the peak of summer, but winter months can have intense UVB radiation," explains Krishna. "Sun protection is important every day, not just on sunny days."
2. Using the same lightweight moisturiser as you did in summer
Unfortunately, the light, barely-there moisturiser you loved during summer won’t quite cut it. Krishna says: "Colder air and bitter winds can join forces to strip your skin of moisture and essential oils. You can protect yourself by switching to more nourishing, richer moisturisers."
3. Sticking to a light cleanser
When the weather’s warm, a light foaming cleanser will often do the trick. However, Krishna suggests this could make your skin "more vulnerable to the elements" in autumn, so recommends "swapping that foam cleanser for a hydrating cleanser" for a bit more protection.
By a hydrating cleanser, Krishna means one that "locks moisture into the skin, rather than solely focusing on cleansing the skin surface of ‘crud’ acquired during the day".
He recommends looking for face washes including ceramides (they act "as a barrier to lock in moisture") and hyaluronic acid ("a naturally occurring substance which attracts moisture into skin cells, leading to skin feeling plump and hydrated").
4. Taking scalding hot showers
When the weather’s cold and miserable, nothing is better than sinking into a steaming bath or having a long, hot shower. However, Krishna says: "Repeated exposure to hot water will strip your skin of valuable moisture" – and this applies to skin all over your body, not just your face.
If you do want to have a hot shower, Krishna adds, "I’d recommend ensuring you moisturise liberally as soon as you dry off" to avoid the dreaded winter dry skin.
Dr Toni Phillips, clinical director at DestinationSkin, says: "Showers should be as lukewarm or cold as you can handle. You will see an improvement in the glow of all your skin if the water temperature is low or cool."
5. Forgetting to exfoliate
Remembering to exfoliate during summer is easy, particularly as you want to slough off all the sunscreen and sweat your skin has accumulated over the day.
It’s not quite as intuitive in winter, when all you really want to do is slather on thick moisturisers to keep yourself hydrated. However, Phillips says: "If the natural cycle of skin exfoliation is not optimal, layers of dead skin cells remain on the surface and can build up."
This can "congest the skin", potentially leading to breakouts. "The skin can also look dull, with an uneven texture and in more mature people, the lines and wrinkles will appear deeper," she adds.
For Krishna, exfoliation becomes "even more" important in winter, because we’re likely to have a drier complexion – and you want moisturiser to absorb into your face, "rather than sitting on dry flakes of skin". First, he recommends washing your face with a hydrating cleanser.
"Then gently pat the skin dry," he says, "massage the exfoliating scrub into the skin in purposeful small circles with your fingers and rinse away. Don’t forget to moisturise straight after."