Original Illustration by Haobin Ye
We all view New Year's as a time to set new goals and intentions for our well-being, but why wait all the way until then? In many ways, the beginning of fall is a better time to overhaul your beauty and wellness routines. "As we shift from sunny beach days into the colder, crisper months ahead, this transitional period is the perfect time to restore and recharge your body and skin, après–summertime fun," says Juana Diez, a holistic skincare expert and clean beauty buyer at ShopGood.
Andrea S. Barone, a Reiki master and founder of Crystal Hills skincare, agrees: "It seems like the summer-to-fall period is the ideal time to adopt self-care habits, as we are not as busy rushing out the door with all our favorite summertime activities. Autumn allows us to pull our energy inward and think about the wellness rituals that we can incorporate into our daily lives to support our well-being as we prepare for the cold winter nights ahead." Not to mention less sunlight and drier weather physically change your skin and body's needs, requiring different habits and ingredients.
In the spirit of rejuvenating our beauty routines with the seasons, we asked a few trusted skin and health experts for the rituals and treatments they recommend for things like boosting cellular turnover, hydrating our skin and hair, and re-centering our bodies after an intense summer. They kindly offered options at multiple price points as well. We're calling it our Project Fall Overhaul. Keep scrolling for 13 fall beauty habits to cultivate now.
1. Replace Your Vitamin C With Retinol
Since summer is all about high-key sun protection, if you're going to use a serum, make it an antioxidant one like vitamin C. But for fall, swap that out for a retinol to increase cell turnover and remove the dead layer of skin leftover from summer. "Retinols do make skin more sensitive to the sun so they are well suited for the cooler months as we begin to spend more time indoors," says celebrity esthetician Joshua Ross of SkinLab, a Med Spa in Beverly Hills.
That said, you should continue your summer habit of applying sunscreen every day. "Even though it may be cloudy and the sun doesn't seem as strong, it's a good habit to avoid being in the sun unnecessarily," says Ross.
Spend: Sonya Dakar Retinu ($135)
Save: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion ($10)
2. Take Advantage of Seasonal Fall Foods
Eating seasonally is cheaper, better for the environment, and better for your body, especially considering all the nutrition that comes with autumnal foods. Skip the out-of-season strawberries and instead "load up your plate with antioxidant-rich foods like sweet potatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, and broccoli to allow your body to rejuvenate after a long, hot summer," says Diez. "And don't forget to get your digestive juices flowing for optimal energy and digestion. Snack on fermented foods, take a daily probiotic, and incorporate healing spices into your food like ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon."
3. Focus on Adding Moisture Back Into Your Skin
Depending on where you live, cooler weather means a decrease in humidity, which can leave the skin drier and potentially more irritated in the fall. "To keep skin hydrated, add a boost of moisture to your routine such as an oil or serum paired with a more emollient night cream," Ross suggests. "For a monthly mask, shift from a clay mask, which is drying, to a hydrating, cream-based formula (i.e. a mask that stays moist throughout the entire application). My favorite ingredients to look for are hyaluronic acid, peptides, and colloidal oatmeal."
Save: EO Facial Moisturizer ($9)
4. Start Taking Energy-Boosting Showers
"There's nothing like a steamy hot shower on a cold day, but it can wreak havoc on your skin by stripping away oils and increasing inflammation," says Diez. It's also bad for your energy levels because when you get out of a hot shower, your body cools down, signaling that it's time for sleep.
It might not feel as cozy, but do yourself a favor this fall and try alternating between warm and cold water in the shower to stimulate your lymphatic system—an Ayurvedic technique proven to increase energy levels while being healthier for your skin.
5. Step Up Your Exfoliation Routine
"In the summer, we need to refrain from over-exfoliating because it can make the skin more sensitive to sun damage," says Ross. "With the transition to fall, it's time to reintroduce the exfoliation products you were avoiding in the summer." This can include gentle daily physical exfoliation with a scrub or Konjac sponge, or a biweekly chemical exfoliating peel you can do at home.
Spend: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel ($88)
6. Flush Your Lymphatic System
"Lymphatic fatigue can easily show up on your skin in the form of dark eye circles, dullness, increased visibility of fine lines, and even acne," says Diez. "Aside from boosting your glow and eliminating puffiness, a lymphatic drainage treatment can act as a skin workout by strengthening facial muscles, boosting oxygen circulation, and releasing endorphins."
You can either get a professional dry-brushing treatment in a spa or, for something more affordable, purchase facial and body dry brushes to use at home all the time. "Dry brushing at home is incredibly easy to incorporate into your routine," says Diez. "All you need is three to five minutes before your shower. Start at your feet and brush upward towards the heart using firm, small strokes."
Spend: In-spa dry-brushing treatment ($50+)
7. Reboot Your Skin With a Facial
"For those that don't get monthly facials, the fall is a great time to splurge on one to repair summer sun damage," says Ross. Plus, having a professional reset your skin will make your other efforts at home more effective. If you're L.A.-based and want to splurge, here are our favorite facial spots, though there are also plenty of amazing affordable places all over the country (in L.A., Face Haus, which offers $65 facials, is a favorite).
8. Spend Weekends Deeply Hydrating Your Hair
We can't forget the summer-to-fall hair health transition. After all that sun exposure, chlorine, and seawater, your hair likely needs some TLC. "Swap out your sea salt spray for a hydrating hair treatment," Diez suggests. Look for a nourishing oil or mask containing ingredients like shea butter, coconut, quinoa, and jojoba oil.
Spend: Leonor Greyl L'Huile ($59)
Save: Desert Essence Jojoba Oil ($11)
9. Load Up on Leafy Greens
"For an immune boost and overall body detox after indulging on too many adult bevvies and summer BBQs," Diez suggests incorporating a superfood greens supplement into your wellness routine. That way, you can get a huge dose of vitamins and minerals to support digestion and skin health without needing to eat a kale salad for every meal.
Spend: The Beauty Chef Cleanse ($65)
Save: Sunfood Chlorella tablets ($14)
10. Get a Skin Checkup
"A change in season is a good reminder to assess if you need to make any alternations in your skincare routine to address your current skin concerns," says Ross. Realistically, we should be switching up our products on a rolling basis based on what our skin is telling us. But a change in season offers a great opportunity to see your esthetician or dermatologist for a checkup so they can help you reassess your skin health and advise you on any adjustments or treatments that need to be added to your regimen for the coming months.
11. Try Micro-Needling
In-office micro-needling uses a pen covered in teen-tiny needles to create small micro-injuries that stimulate natural healing mechanisms, increasing collagen production, minimizing dark circles, reducing pigmentation, and boosting radiance. "It's perfect post-summer, when (even though I'm a sunscreen fanatic) my skin has some hyperpigmentation and is generally a little more compromised than usual," says Nicci Levy, founder and CEO of Alchemy 43, a chain of "aesthetics bars" based out of Los Angeles. To replicate the results of an in-office treatment, try micro-needling at home with a derma-roller. Learn everything you need to know about how to use a derma-roller here.
Spend: Professional treatment ($500+)
Save: Stacked Skincare Micro-Roller ($30)
12. Develop a Spa Habit
Spas and saunas do incredible things for your skin, immune system, and mental health. There's a reason Swedish women almost never get sick. As you ease out of summer, it's especially important to keep dry skin and seasonal blues at bay with self-care practices like an afternoon at the sauna.
However, if you can't physically get to or make room in your budget for a spa day, you can make one yourself. "Try a DIY spa hour in the comfort of your own home," advises Ava Shamban, Beverly Hills dermatologist and founder of Skin Five. "Begin with a short guided meditation. This will reduce cortisol levels. Light a candle for some aromatherapy; make a DIY scrub with oatmeal, strawberries, and coarsely ground almonds; run a bath and put some Epsom salt in (magnesium is a good muscle relaxant), and while you're sitting in the bath, apply a DIY mask. After the bath, take off the mask, moisturize head to toe, and you're back."
13. Take This Time to Re-Evaluate Your Beauty Consumption
With elections and an intensified news cycle, fall is an especially political time, offering you the chance to re-evaluate how you want to vote with your dollar every time you shop for beauty products. Summer is often a time of excess, but this fall, try asking yourself questions like these: Do you want to support more women-owned beauty businesses or companies that give back to causes you believe in? Do you want to start buying only cruelty-free products or products made with sustainable packaging? Now is the perfect time to use your spending habits as a form of political power.
Next up: 21 summer beauty products we'll continue using into fall.