Skin-Care Tips

Dermatologists Name the Best—And Worst—Ingredients To Use on Your Skin From Now Through January

Kara Jillian Brown

Photo: W+G Creative
Fall brings a much-needed reprieve from the blistering-hot summer days before we dive into a harsh, dry winter. As temperatures and humidity levels drop, however, it's time to take a peek into your medicine cabinet and reassess what's going on. Because, by using products that contain the best fall skin-care ingredients, you can undo the damage left behind from the days spent in the sun and prep your skin for winter.

Use: Dark spot correctors

"Fall is a good time to replenish all the things that got depleted in the summer and to kick your routine into high gear for de-pigmentation and collagen stimulation," says Shirley Chi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in California. Because sun exposure can cause uneven melanin production, summer may leave you with dark spots and hyperpigmentation. "I'm big into clearing up dark spots in the fall, whether you're doing IPL or laser treatments, or if you're using topicals like hydroquinone, tranexamic acid, or azelaic acid. You could even pair it with chemical peels because you just went through a summer where you were probably amping up your pigment production and the fall is a good time to do these treatments before it gets really, really dry and your skin gets irritated."

Differin Dark Spot Corrector
Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum — $13.00

The Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum contains 2 percent hydroquinone, the strongest concentration you can get over the counter.

The INKEY List Tranexamic Acid, fall skin care ingredients
The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid — $15.00

The Inkey List Tranexamic Acid is a lightweight gel that you can apply before bed so it works on dark spots as you sleep.

Use: Retinoids

If you haven't yet introduced a retinoid to your routine, Dr. Chi says is a great time to start. "It's a good time to start retinoids if you haven't been using them because you were worried that it was too irritating in the summer because you were going to the beach," says Dr. Chi. "January, February is not a great time to start retinoids because it gets too cold and dry."

RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Retinol Serum
RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Retinol Serum — $16.00

You’ll know your retinol is always fresh when you use the RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Retinol Serum. You’ll get 30 individual capsules to use nightly.

Dr. Different Vitalift-A
Dr. Different Vitalift-A — $42.00

The Dr. Different Vitalift-A contains 0.05 percent retinal (a super gentle vitamin A derivative) to smooth fine lines, stimulate collagen production, and exfoliate. It also includes hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin.

Get a deeper understanding of retinol:

It's okay to continue using these ingredients through the winter, but only if your skin can tolerate it, adds Caren Campbell, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in California.

Stop using: Drying ingredients

"As we enter the colder months, our skin becomes increasingly dry as there is less humidity or water in the air. We get more evaporation of water from the skin due to indoor heaters as well. The decreased humidity and evaporation causes the dryness most of us experience," says Dr. Campbell. "Using less drying ingredients is important if you are experiencing dryness. These include AHA and BHAs and possibly retinoids. If you are using retinoids for acne or anti-aging you should continue, you might just need a thicker moisturizer on top."

Use: Creams instead of lotions

Dr. Campbell says to use creams instead of lotions when managing dryness. "When our skin is oilier or more moisturized, lotions and lightweight hyaluronic acid serums might make more sense," says Dr. Campbell, "but in the colder months, moisturizers with more oil than water like creams make more sense."

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream — $17.00

Suitable for the face and body, the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is packed with essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid to keep your skin moisturized and hydrated.

CCMD Enriched Cream, fall skin care ingredients
CCMD Enriched Cream — $90.00

Dr. Campbell recommends the Enriched Cream from her skin-care line, CCMD. It contains hyaluronic, peptides, and antioxidants to boost collagen production, reduce inflammation, and reduce the signs of aging.

skincueticals triple lipid restore, fall skin care ingredients
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore — $130.00

Dr. Campbell also recommends using the SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore to keep your skin moisturized. It’s rich and full of nurturing lipids like natural cholesterol, pure ceramides, and fatty acids to restore skin elasticity and hydration retention.

Learn more about managing dry skin:

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