11 Back-To-School Skincare Rules To Follow Now

Ulla Johnson Spring/Summer 2023

Even if your school days are long behind you, it’s the perfect time of year for a refresher course on all things beauty.

Forget New Year’s Day, the best time to make resolutions is actually the start of a new season—and especially in September, as fall arrives. As a drop in temperatures signals the close of the carefree summer months, a period of reflection and readjustment inevitably follows. It’s the ideal time to reacquaint yourself with the simple rules to follow to achieve healthy, luminous-looking skin. Below, Vogue hears from facialists, dermatologists and aesthetic doctors, for a refresher course on the back-to-school skin rules worth following now.

1. Take time to reassess your skin

“September is a great time to reassess your skin,” says facialist Jasmina Vico. “DNA within the skin cells can be damaged by prolonged sun exposure, pollution and a lack of sleep. Examine your skin, identify any changes (like dehydration, congestion or pigmentation), and focus on finding the cause of the issue, whether external or internal, or see a professional who can do it for you. Once you’ve established the cause, use corrective products—such as vitamin C or exfoliators—to repair, heal and strengthen the skin.”

2. Look after your skin barrier

“Nurture your skin barrier, because through autumn and winter, skin is more likely to be dry and dehydrated,” explains aesthetic doctor, Dr Sophie Shotter. “Constant transitions from cold to warm (and vice versa), which happen a lot in winter, mean that the skin barrier gets weaker. In a worst case scenario, conditions like rosacea may flare up, while in the best case, skin may be drier, slightly flaky, or mildly more sensitive. Now is a good time to focus on barrier health—think about including a moisturizer rich in ceramides into your routine. For drier skin, this can be paired with fatty acids to create a richer formulation, whereas oilier skins should stick to lightweight, non-comedogenic creams.”

3. Keep your SPF to hand

“Don’t pack away your SPF! Broad spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and in the winter time UVA rays (which are responsible for the formation of lines and wrinkles), can penetrate cloud as well as glass. Hence you need to wear it throughout the winter to future-proof your skin,” says Fiona McCarthy, aesthetic doctor at The Bronte Clinic. “Remember that the SPF in your moisturizer and make-up isn’t enough to give adequate protection. You need a dedicated SPF and should apply it as the last step in your morning skincare regime, after moisturizer.”

4. Address pigmentation

“Shift your focus to repairing the damage from the summer sun,” advises plastic surgery registrar, Dr Jo Mennie. “Despite good SPF use, for many there is often an inevitable resurgence of pigmentation. I like to use autumn as the season in which to begin breaking down some of this pigmentation—I switch up my regular vitamin C serum to one that also contains hydroquinone, such as the Obagi Rx C-Clarifying Serum. This medical-grade product provides high concentration of both ingredients, and allows them to work in synergy to kickstart the pigmentation reversal process.”

5. Get water temperature right

According to dermatologist Dr Alexis Granite, “When you wash your face, you should ideally use lukewarm water because it will activate your cleanser to properly remove product build-up, dirt and grime on the skin, while also protecting the skin’s natural oils. Washing with water that’s too hot can be an irritant to the skin, leaving it sensitized, tight and dry, and it can also impact the skin barrier. Although there are benefits to using cold water on the skin, including reducing puffiness, cleansing with cold water should be avoided. It does not clean the skin as effectively as water at warmer temperatures.”

6. Don’t forget your lips

“Don’t forget to protect your lips. They need optimal skincare too, especially in the autumn and winter, when transepidermal water loss is higher due to change in humidity and harsh winds,” says medical doctor Dr Tijion Esho. “This can leave lips dry and cracked if not treated. Use a squalene-based lip balm, like Esho Coat, to hydrate and protect—and also be sure to use SPF on lips too.”

7.Embrace inside-out beauty

“A change of season is the perfect time to adjust your daily routine and introduce a new habit to look after skin health,” says medical and cosmetic doctor, Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe. “I’m an avid consumer of supplements and it’s all part of my wider belief that beauty, and overall health needs to be addressed from the inside, out. This autumn/winter I would recommend introducing a collagen supplement, like Vida Glow’s Natural Marine Collagen, into your routine to help smooth fine lines and wrinkles, promote and maintain healthy hair and help nails grow longer, quicker, and stronger.”

8. Moisturize

“Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!” says consultant dermatologist, Dr Mary Sommerlad. “Face, hands, body and feet, especially after showering when the skin is slightly damp—it will help lock water in. The cold, dry air and central heating in winter increase water loss, meaning that skin can start to feel dry and itchy. I recommend using multitasking moisturizers that work to draw moisture in, soften and prevent water loss. Ingredients like ceramides help repair the skin barrier while humectants, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, draw water into the skin. Shea butter is the only plant oil I recommend as it is low irritation and great at reducing dryness, plus squalane is a great addition to any formula. There are so many great formulations to suit every budget—just make sure those key ingredients are in there.”

9. Cleanse correctly

“Get cleansing wrong and it’s hard to get skincare right,” says dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. “I recommend sticking to non-foaming, gentle cleansers that are functional, then rely on your serums to deliver active ingredients in a much more precise way. My ideal cleansing wardrobe contains a gel-based cleanser, with a skin-friendly pH of around 4-5, that won’t clog pores. I also like to use a micellar water for on-the-go cleansing and eye make-up removal. My new Flawless Cleansing Water contains just nine ingredients, combining gentle surfactants with excellent cleansing power and skin-soothers like glycerin and licorice extract, to support the skin barrier.”

10. Incorporate chemical exfoliators

Heed consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto’s advice: “Now is a good time of year to start re-introducing gentle chemical exfoliators, like lactic, mandelic, kojic, gluconolactone, and lactobionic acids, into your routine. These acids can traditionally make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so using them at this time of year is less likely to cause problems, such as sun sensitivity. They are also very good at removing the upper, dead layer of skin cells and targeting pigmentation, freckling or uneven skin tone, which occurs due to sun exposure.”

11. Restart with retinol

Retinol is the perfect ingredient to incorporate into your skincare routine in autumn and winter,” points out aesthetic doctor Dr Maryam Zamani. “I recommend introducing it to help boost collagen production, decrease pigmentation and improve skin tone. It works to gently speed skin exfoliation and diminish lasting signs of summer sun damage. Try the MZ Skin Retinol Skin Booster.

This article originally appeared on Vogue UK

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