We all have those Instagram accounts we check daily, turn post notifications on for, and refer to in conversation like they’re our actual friends. If you’ve ever scrolled onto one of these photos and wondered “how does she do it?” you’re in luck. Welcome to our series, Insta Stalking, where we talk to the women behind the accounts we’re obsessing over about their beauty secrets. First up, five women reveal how they transition their skin care routines from summer to fall.
Like clockwork, at the change of every season, I get hit with a cold, and my skin freaks out. Out of seemingly nowhere, I’ll be dealing with both major breakouts and dry, flaky patches, no matter what season we’re entering. While it’s never fun, during the fall the dryness is particularly bad, since it serves as a reminder of the extreme dryness to come in the colder months.
What’s at least slightly reassuring is that everyone I’ve mention this to has a similar story about their skin freaking out recently too. Rachel Liverman, esthetician and co-founder of Glowbar, confirms it’s not crazy to blame your skin on the shifting seasons. “Seasonal changes affect nearly everyone; this is due to the level of humidity in the air,” she says. “As the weather changes and the air gets drier, so does your skin. You then turn up the heat in your house and car, which dries out your skin even more.”
Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City, adds that this dryness can contribute to acne, and it’s important to hydrate your skin even if you’re acne-prone. “As the weather gets colder, it’s important to adjust your skin care routine,” says Zeichner. “Look for hydrating cleansers and rich moisturizers to maintain healthy skin barrier function.” Both Zeichner and Liverman recommend adding a more emollient moisturizer, as well as an extra-hydrating serum when the temperature drops. Don’t get too excited and switch out your whole routine, Liverman recommends only adding two new products at a time instead of doing a complete overhaul.
With that in mind, we spoke to women with some of the best skin on the Internet to see how they transition their skin care routines into the fall. From K-beauty steals to $300 creams, read on for their must-have products.
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Lissie Chappel, 28, freelance brand consultant in New York City
I had somewhat sensitive skin growing up. I went through an oily phase as a teen and had breakouts through my early 20s. When I hit 24, I started getting less breakouts, but my skin got more reactive and I developed rosacea. My redness was at its worst in the winter of 2017, so I cut out all products except for Caudalie Grape Water, Bragg Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, jojoba oil, and castor oil from Whole Foods. Skin is definitely a reflection of holistic internal and external factors, and during that time I was also getting a couple hives on my face, neck, and arms daily. I wasn’t able to make immediate changes to my diet, stress levels, work hours, or environment, so I eliminated skin care products. In the past two years, I built up my skin’s resilience and introduced products back in.
Being physically unable to try new things or repurchase old products for a while changed my habits and the way I look at beauty. Since finding a handful of skin care mainstays in the last two years, I’ve pretty much stopped all exploratory skincare purchases. I stick to simple, low ingredient count, mostly natural products.
Now that my rosacea and hives have lessened, my skin does not change too drastically with the seasons—it’s just drier and more prone to redness in winter. I layer more moisture and try to physically protect my cheeks from cold wind, which can flare up my rosacea.
My morning and night routines are the same. I start with Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes for Sensitive Skin if I’m wearing makeup, then cleanse with either Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser or Klur Gentle Matter Cleanser—a non-foaming gel with a soothing blend of botanicals. Occasionally, I simply cleanse with Bragg Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Caudalie Grape Water is my longest standing skin care essential. I’ve used it immediately after cleansing for 10 years. My other most important step in my routine is Lesse Ritual Serum. The lovely Neada Deters developed her serum for years to create a perfect balance of organic ingredients like turmeric, algae extract, calendula flower extract, and jojoba oil. I go through one bottle a month—it’s what my skin craves, and in the summer it’s all I need. In winter, for additional moisture on top of the serum, I layer Honey Girl Organics Face & Eye Creme Extra Sensitive. The sensitive version without essential oils is an emollient cream made with only six ingredients. My aunt and cousin make Anjolie Sea Rescue Repair Serum, another oil-based serum I layer.
I also love the Lesse Bioactive Face Masque. I avoided drying agents for years, but this one blends charcoal with aloe leaf juice, flower extracts, and mango seed butter. The mask has been a perfectly cleansing yet calming weekly treatment. I’m also obsessed with Circumference In-Depth Hydration Face Mask. I use it as a night treatment or light layer during winter days. I have come to terms with my puffy eye bags, since they’re genetic and grow no matter how much I sleep. For facial puffiness and TMJ tension, I use a generic gua sha tool. Sometimes I’ll massage One Love Organics Botanical E Eye Balm all around my eye area.
The only chemical exfoliant I’ve been able to incorporate into my routine as a test is the industry standard Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. I still can’t use it on my cheeks, but I’ve seen results on the rest of my face. As a weekly physical exfoliant, I use Goldfaden MD Doctor’s Scrub with perfectly round ruby crystals, jojoba oil, seaweed extract, and hyaluronic acid. It takes me a year to get through the $75 container.
Lip care and eye drops are massive year-round additions for me, especially in the winter. I got hooked on the cult-favorite Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I also use DedCool Chazstick in Vanilla and Coconut. I use Similasan Complete Eye Relief multiple times a day. With all that in combination, hopefully my redness won’t be too bad this winter.
Minami Gessel, 24, student and model in Los Angeles
My skin type is typically combination/normal, but in the winter my skin leans toward dry. My biggest concerns are my hormonal breakouts on my chin and redness in my cheeks. I try to stay away from dairy—it’s hard AF—but when I’m having a really bad chin breakout, it’s usually because I’m eating a lot of dairy. I also try to be consistent in my routine and find products that actually work for me.
I follow the 10-step Korean skin care routine, but mine is only nine steps. I start by cleansing with Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, it’s super gentle and removes makeup easily. I follow that with Bioderma to double cleanse and get all the makeup and dirt off. Then I exfoliate with Biologique Recherche P50 W; it’s miracle juice. I use Shiseido WrinkleResist 24 as my essence, which I probably don’t need, but it hydrates, makes my skin feel so soft, and helps with brightness. I hydrate with Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Serum, which is a must in winter, my skin just drinks it up. The Drunk Elephant C Firma serum has helped with acne and brightening my skin, so I use that and then the Glossier Bubblewrap Eye Cream, which is so hydrating. I always seal everything in with Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich, and since SPF is still important in the winter, I’ll use Glossier Invisible Shield. It has a serum-y texture that doesn’t make you feel greasy.
My skin stays pretty much the same in winter, but it does get drier around my nose and cheeks. When it gets colder, I tend to learn towards heavier creams, like Weleda Skin Food (it smells amazing), and focus them around my cheeks. When my skin feels really dry I’ll do a hydrating mask, like Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Mask, Bioderma Sensibio Mask, and the Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Skin Clay Mask. They’re the dream team that gets me through to the spring.
Charli Howard, 28, model, body positivity activist, and founder of Squish Beauty in New York City and London
I have real combination skin—one minute it’s dry, one minute it’s oily, or it’s both at the same time. It makes buying products tricky because you’re tackling two complaints at once. When I created Squish, I wanted the products to be suitable for every skin type based on my experience. I think less is more, but make sure you use the best ingredients you can. I don’t use anything with perfumes, sulphates, parabens, or palm oils in it because I react badly to them, either by breaking out or getting a rash.
If I don’t take care of my skin, it definitely changes, and I notice it breaking out as soon as autumn or spring arrives. I try to trick my skin during changing seasons by using facial oils and keeping my skin care consistent.
I have a shower every morning and put my moisturizer on afterwards. I don’t buy into fancy creams, although I do swear by Dr. Barbara Sturm’s MC1 Cream. It’s done wonders for my acne scars, and I’ve truly seen an improvement since using it. Otherwise, I use Simple Light Moisturizer—it keeps me hydrated all day! That’s all I do before my makeup. At night, I keep it simple. I take makeup off with Clinique Take the Day Off Facial Cleanser. It takes everything off, including hard-to-remove eyeliner. Then I spray my face with Avene Facial Spray. If I have a zit, I’ll wear my Squish Flower Power acne patches on top to heal it overnight and stop me from picking them.
Sydney Utendahl, 25, beauty blogger in New York City
I have combination skin, but leaning on the dry side. My skin issues, I believe, are due to dryness and oil over-production because I stripped my skin’s natural moisture barrier by using too many acids that I didn’t know anything about. I also, just like most women, suffer from hormonal acne.
I don’t follow anyone’s exact routine because everyone has different skin. It’s important to find out what works best for your skin and stick to that—anytime I have copied a routine it has never worked for me. I also believe, the simpler, the better. Letting your skin breath with the right amount of moisture is key.
My skin tends to break out the most in the winter, which for most people is the opposite, but as I mentioned, when my skin is too dry it will try to produce more oils causing me to break out. During the winter I try to use non-comedogenic oils, such as Squalane, to keep my skin moisturized.
In the morning, I start with La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Gel. I like that it contains zinc which is an anti-fungal that prevents breakouts. Then I use Hado Labo Hyaluronic Acid Serum, it’s amazing. I use it as a base layer to help lock all of the moisture in. Then I mix Etude House Oil-Free Moisturizer and The Ordinary Squalane Oil. This combination is great for acne-prone dry skin because I control the amount of oil that I apply. Sunscreen is the most important step in my routine to prevent dark marks and wrinkles. I use Purito Centella Green Level SPF 50.
At night I start with the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. It helps break down all of my makeup and works better than any cleanser I have used. I do a second cleanse with the same La Roche-Posay I use in the morning. Then I apply the By Wishtrend Polyphenols in Propolis 15% Ampoule, a concentrated propolis ampoule that is a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent that leaves my skin super plump. I go back in with the Etude moisturizer and finish off with my prescription retinol. This has been my true holy grail product that cures all of my skin care problems, from fine lines to texture issues.
Fo Porter, 28, model in Los Angeles
If I had to classify my skin, I’d say I’m oily on my T zone and drier on my cheeks. I also suffer from a bit of adult acne; pesky whiteheads on my forehead (from my bangs) and hormonal cystic acne flare ups, mostly on my cheeks and chin. With work, I’m forever having different products and makeup applied to my face on a daily basis, so I love to let my skin breath whenever humanly possible. A little moisturizer, eye cream, lip balm, and a damn good smile can take you a long way.
Living in L.A. where the weather is consistent year round, my skin doesn’t change too much with the seasons. However, it changes drastically when I travel (especially abroad), when there’s a change in climate or water. I definitely like to keep up on my vitamins while traveling to ensure my body and skin is doing its best from the inside out no matter where I might be.
Each day, my skin routine starts and ends with a big glass of good ol’ H2O. I’m not the best at drinking water constantly during the day, so I like to at least start and end my day off right. My routine is pretty much the same morning and night, overall I like to keep it simple. It took me a while to fine-tune what products are best for my skin, but once I did, I’ve stuck and swore by them for years now.
My cleanser is an antibacterial acne soap from my dermatologist, Bussell Skin Care, along with their toner, which is very basic. Both help keep my skin stay consistent and clear. In the morning I apply Eminence’s Probiotic Moisturizer, it’s oil free and heaven sent! It feels incredibly clean and invigorating after I apply it. In the evenings, I don’t use moisturizer, instead I apply Rugby’s Benzoyl Peroxide Cream 10%, to any pimple or flare up I may have. This cream works wonders and stops whiteheads and pimples in their tracks. My go-to eye cream is Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème; it’s rich, hydrating, and gets the job done morning and night. Throughout the day I like to dampen a cotton round with a little toner and wipe down my face—especially if I feel I have that layer of L.A. gunk that tends to accumulate after a day of running around. I’m hoping if I’m diligent enough it’ll keep my breakouts to a minimum.