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Now that Labor Day is behind us, it’s time to gear up for the new season. That means boots, sweaters, and... retinol? It’s a good time to tweak your skincare and even take a look at some in-office procedures you may have been considering. A lot of dermatologists won’t perform certain procedures in the summer because you need to stay out of the sun after you get them done, but it’s safe to explore them now.
Here, five dermatologists weigh in about ingredients you can apply and procedures you can safely do now that fall is here.
Change Your Moisturizer
It’s not an old wives’ tale: If you live in a climate with distinct seasons, you should probably change up your skincare products in the fall when it gets cooler. The most obvious one is your moisturizer. “I generally recommend adding in richer, more hydrating products because there is less humidity in the air. Also, all that summer exposure to sun and water can dry the skin out a bit,” says Dr. Sejal Shah, a New York-based dermatologist surgeon and RealSelf contributor. Dr. Harold Lancer, a Beverly Hills-based celebrity dermatologist, recommends, “Pamper the skin with creams and masks rich in hyaluronic acid to improve skin hydration and with oils to seal in moisture and prevent transepidermal water loss.”
Consider a Retinol
It’s maybe not the sexiest and buzziest ingredient on the market, but it’s arguably the most effective. (To clarify some confusing terminology, retinoids are found in prescription formulations, and retinols are in over-the-counter products; see more information here.) “Invest in retinol. Many people hold off on retinol in the summer because it can make you sensitive to sunburn,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a New York City-based dermatologist and RealSelf contributor. “Once the summer and hot weather come to a close, it’s time to repair the damage that you experienced from summer sun. Retinol stimulates collagen to strengthen the skin's foundation and enhances cell turnover to brighten dark spots and improve skin radiance.”
If you do dabble in retinol, make sure you hydrate, because some people experience dry skin and flaking. “[Retinols] may become irritating as humidity decreases,” says Beverly Hills-based dermatologist Dr. Lisa Chipps.
Lasers and Lights
Laser and light treatments can resurface skin and help get rid of sun damage. “In the office, the fall is the perfect season for Fraxel,” says Dr. Zeichner. “This laser creates microscopic damage to the skin and allows it to heal itself in a more cosmetically appealing manner. It can improve skin tone, texture, and pigmentation. It is even FDA approved to treat sun-damaged pre-cancerous spots known as actinic keratoses, so it may be able to reduce your risk of developing skin cancers in the future.”
Beverly Hills-based dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Hermann explains why it’s best to leave laser treatments for cooler weather: “Correcting pigmentation problems like brown spots is best done after summer. If skin is continually exposed to sun after certain laser and light treatments, pigmentation can return very quickly. Recovery is also more comfortable when the weather is slightly cooler.” (Laser and light treatments aren’t always appropriate for darker skin tones, so be sure to see a dermatologist experienced and accredited in these procedures to see if it’s safe for your skin type.)
Laser Hair Removal
It’s a different kind of laser than Fraxel, but similar rules apply. “Laser hair removal is great to do when we spend less time at the beach and outdoors,” says Dr. Chipps. “Any tan on the skin can compete with lasers targeting hair, increasing the risk of skin burn. It’s safest to complete a series of laser hair removal treatments during the bikini off-season.”
DON’T Stop Using Sunscreen
One thing that most of the doctors here mentioned: Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you should stop using sunscreen. You’re still exposed to UV rays on a daily basis.