As the Seasons Change, So Should Your Skincare

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Alexandra Engler, senior beauty editor at, about proper care of your skin as those of us in the northern hemisphere move into the colder, drier seasons of fall and winter.

As temperatures drop, the air generally retains less moisture in a gaseous state (because it’s more likely to precipitate out as rain). Therefore, to protect our skin we need to add moisture (both internally and topically), prevent water loss, and make sure our skin barrier remains supple and strong, rather than dry and brittle. Remember, your skin is your body’s first line of defense. When you’re taking care of your skin, you’re taking care of your body.

The first change to consider is diet. After all, hydration begins with what we eat. To hydrate your skin you must eat your water! In summer, this is relatively easy to do: water-rich fruits and vegetables are in abundant supply and the heat makes us thirsty, so we’re more likely to reach for them. But even if watermelon, tomatoes, and other summer produce are less available now, there are still plenty of water-rich choices you can make: think dark, leafy greens, potatoes, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, carrots, cabbage, apples, oranges, grapefruit, pomegranates, pears, persimmons, and pumpkin and winter squash.

Now that you’re eating your water, you want to keep it in the cells where it belongs. That means eating to support strong cell membranes, as I described in an earlier blog post. (Hint: think fatty-acid-based lipids and proteins.) It’s not enough to add these nutrients topically in a cream; you also need to eat a diet that is full of them or take supplements. You also need to make sure your skincare routine is not stripping moisture from your skin.

In the summer, we’re often concerned about excess oil and sweat clogging our pores. But with the arrival of cooler temperatures, sweat is less of an issue. Now is the time to use a gentle cleanser that lifts away dirt without drying the skin.

Next, add a moisturizer—preferably one with SPF and perhaps other environmental protectants in the day—and a deeper moisturizer at night. As you sleep, your skin is working to repair all the damage that occurred while you were out and about. Being adequately hydrated—internally and externally—as well as properly nourished is critical to your skin’s nighttime repair cycle. I like to give myself a bedtime snack of a few walnuts, which are rich in omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). That way, I’m sure to give my body what it needs for effective cell repair. This is even more important if you’re sleeping with the heat on, which can be very drying to the skin.

Similarly, don’t neglect moisturizer and SPF in the day simply because the sun isn’t as bright for as many hours. Cold air, dry wind, and even reflected sunlight from snow can all take a toll on the skin.

Finally, moisturize your hands and body, not just your face! Especially if you’re using a hand sanitizer—most of which are alcohol based—to guard against winter colds and flu, you’ll need to replace the moisture lost to them, as well as moisture lost through more frequent hand-washing. Indulge yourself with an oatmeal bath (colloidal oatmeal is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, water-binding polysaccharides, which are a form of sugar, as well as compounds called hydrocolloids, which create a protective barrier to keep the skin from losing excess water). Then apply a nourishing body oil, body butter, or moisturizing lotion while your skin is still damp.

Now your skin is poised to stay soft and supple all fall—and winter—long!

To those of you in the Los Angeles area: In honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, I will be speaking at this event in Thousand Oaks on Sunday, Nov. 3. Please click on the link to learn more and to register.


Privacy Preference Center