There are two times during the year when my skin typically freaks out. One is in between winter and spring, and the other—the most challenging for my skin (and probably yours, too)—is between summer and fall. It feels like a long, moisture-sucking flight that leaves my skin dehydrated by the time I land in November. At that point, my skincare efforts shift towards repairing any post-summer sun damage, boosting my skin’s natural regenerating process, and sealing in as much hydration as possible to protect it from the elements. Good nutrition and plenty of quality sleep are very important to accomplish these goals, but I also rely on a skincare regimen that includes simple treatments with key active ingredients.
Whenever I notice new sunspots, or I have a new scar left by a pimple, or even when my skin looks dull and lifeless, I use face masks that contain fruit enzymes. Fruit enzymes are an effective, but gentler alternative to AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids), which tend to irritate delicate skin like mine, and become slightly less effective over time. Fruit enzymes help to dissolve dead skin cells and impurities and reveal fresher skin. I typically look for papaya, pineapple, pumpkin, or kiwi, which are all great sources of enzymes.
Exfoliation is a great tool to improve the texture of your skin all year long. Whenever I skip on my weekly/bi-weekly exfoliating face masks, my skin’s texture looks more uneven, my pores look larger, and face makeup seems to not go on as smooth. You know that feeling when you apply concealer on a red, dry patch and it looks worse than before you tried to cover it?! Or when you apply foundation, and it looks like your skin is peeling off? So annoying—and challenging to fix once it’s on your skin. A good enzyme-based mask, prior to makeup application, can definitely make a difference.
One of my favorite face masks containing fruit enzymes is the Odacité Synergie Immediate Skin Perfecting Masque. This powder formula contains papain (papaya enzyme) along with other decongesting, brightening ingredients, and it helps to treat several skin problems. It is also great if your skin is well, and you just want to improve its texture and prevent breakouts.
Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator has been my go-to face mask recently. It is quite gentle, so I can wear it for up to an hour without developing any irritation or redness. Unlike clay-based masks, it does not dry on the skin, but remains comfortable thanks to the humectant and emollient ingredients (honey, glycerin, avocado, jojoba). I do make sure to remove it gently to prevent physical scrubbing (it contains finely-milled walnut shell particles), but once it is rinsed off the skin it makes my skin feel and look like brand new.
Another old favorite product of mine that contains fruit enzymes is the One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil. It exfoliates with papaya enzymes, but it’s gentle enough to remove makeup every day.
Topical application of Vitamin A is well known for its skin benefits: it stimulates collagen synthesis and repairs UV damage. However, after learning about the downside of using the supremely-effective Retinoic Acid (the synthetic version of Vitamin A that can cause severe reactions and toxicity—already banned in Europe but still prescribed in North America), I decided to stick to its natural counterpart. Some plant seeds provide natural retinoids, which are significantly more gentle to the skin and do not cause toxicity, while still being beneficial.
Rosehip Oil is one of the plant oils that provides the highest levels of Vitamin A. It is emollient, but non-greasy, has regenerating and antioxidant properties, and contains essential fatty acids as well. A long time favorite of mine is the Pai BioRegenerate Rosehip Oil, which is extracted from both the seed and fruit of the plant, delivering an even higher level of caretonoids than other rosehip oils.
The RMS Beauty Beauty Oil is a face serum that contains Rosehip Oil and additional plant oils that also have great benefits for the skin, such as Tamanu, Jojoba and Buriti. The formulation also includes plant extracts that are soothing and anti-inflammatory, like Calendula and Turmeric. This product is free of essential oils, which makes it a great option for people like me who have more delicate “sensitive” skin.
Vitamin C is a bit like the genie of skincare—it makes your skin wishes come true. Dull skin? It makes your skin glow. Dark spots? It may brighten them. Scars? It can fade them. Dehydrated skin? It helps to reduce transepidermal water loss. The benefits of Vitamin C for the skin are backed up by fairly solid research, so I make sure to always include a Vitamin C-based product in my fall/winter skincare routine.
My favorite way to take advantage of Vitamin C’s antioxidants benefits is to use it in the morning underneath my face sunscreen. It helps to boost the sun-protective properties of the sunscreen, preventing photo-damage caused by UV rays more effectively.
However, since the stability of Vitamin C in skincare products is a concern (light, air, and heat tend to cause oxidation) it is super important to choose the right product. It is also known that topical application of Vitamin C works better when it is combined with another amazing antioxidant: Vitamin E, which protects the skin from collagen damage. So products that contain both vitamins are a better choice.
My current go-to Vitamin C product is the Agent Nateur Holi (C) Refining Face Vitamins. It is brilliant because it comes in an easy-to-mix powder form. I like to mix it with a simple face oil like Argan (a good source of Vitamin E), because Vitamin C works best when mixed with very few ingredients. It’s not your typical, easy to play with, DIY ingredient.
One of the most beautiful, Vitamin C-based face serums I have tried is the Odacité An Autumn On The World. I like to evenly press only 2 drops onto moist skin, starting from cheeks, cheekbones, and around my mouth, moving to the outwards areas of my face. This serum contains a whopping 15% Vitamin C from Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, a fat soluble form of Vitamin C that is more stable and effective compared to other types. It also contains Red Raspberry Seed Oil, which has some UV-shielding properties.
Suffering from persistent lip dryness during fall and winter is not uncommon. Cracked lips can be extremely uncomfortable (sometimes even painful), and do not wear well with any lipstick, which is a pain for someone like me who enjoys wearing lipstick.
The reason is that our lips do not produce oil (sebum) like the rest of our face, so when the weather is harsh (cold, dry, windy) we need to supply the protective layer that our lips are lacking, or physically cover them, which is definitely unpractical.
My absolute favorite lip care products are all from Henné Organics. When my lips are rough and flaky, I use one of the Lip Exfoliators to remove the dead skin and then I apply their Lip Balm. It’s effective and free of unnecessary fragrant oils.
UV rays do not take winter vacations, so if you want to keep your skin even and prevent sun damage of any type (collagen breakdown, brown spots, etc.), sunscreen is non-negotiable. Why put all this effort into repairing damage if we are not going to prevent it from happening again, right?—that’s my daily motivation. Trust me, I have tried a ton of face sunscreens that broke me out and/or left a ghostly, white cast on my face. Not a cute look, if I say so myself.
A few that have worked better for me are the W3LL People Tinted Bio-Tint Multi Action Moisturizer with SPF 30, and the Josh Rosebrook Tinted Nutrient Day Cream with SPF 30. Both of them work best for skin that is not too oily and not too dry. They are both zinc-based, so I still need to add a tiny amount of concealer or foundation to make them blend in with my complexion, but they are easier to work with than anything else I have tried because of their lightweight texture and tinted formula.
Another two face sunscreens that I like to use on the go are the Coola Mineral Sport SPF 50 Tinted Sunscreen Stick and the ILIA Beauty Moondance Radiant Translucent Powder with SPF 20. The first one is perfect for when I go out bare faced and suddenly remember that I didn’t apply sunscreen in the middle of a walk outside. It glides over the skin smoothly, leaves a nice glow, and can be applied straight from the stick—no fingers involved. The second one works best for when I am already wearing product on my face and I just want to reapply sunscreen without disturbing my makeup. It comes in a powder form with a brush applicator wand, so again, it does not require using fingers on the skin.
I am not going to lie—healthy, glowing skin during autumn and winter really feels like sailing against the wind—cold and dry air can make our skin feel tight, and look dull and lifeless. A good skincare regimen that includes certain key-active ingredients, however— together with a good ol’ moisturizer or face oil—can make a huge difference and are well worth the effort.