With fall approaching, it’s time to talk skin. Autumn brings a cooler climate (sweater weather!) and a drop in humidity, which makes for dry, stale air and even drier skin. “Mix this with dry heat from radiators, and it’s a setup for [conditions] like eczema and dry, itchy skin,” according to Shari Marchbein, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.
That said, fall is the perfect time to reassess your go-to skin-care routine. In general, it’s always good to approach skin care seasonally, just like you do your wardrobe. “As the seasons change, so should your skin care,” explains Connecticut-based board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D. “It’s minor tweaks that can make a major difference.”
To avoid the itch fest, here are four top tips from dermatologists to adapt a cold-weather skin-care routine.
1. Try a thicker moisturizer.
Say goodbye to the lightweight, oil-free moisturizer you’ve probably been slathering on all summer. It’s time to bulk up with a heftier hydrator, says Dr. Marchbein. She recommends a heavy cream made with ceramides, which are the “essential and healthy fatty acids that occur naturally in the skin but need to be replenished during the colder months.”
Those ceramides, as fellow New York City board-certified dermatologist Sejal Shah, M.D., once told us, are especially crucial because they serve as a support system for your skin barrier. “When the skin lacks ceramides, the barrier becomes compromised, resulting in dryness and irritation,” she previously explained. In this way, depleted ceramides can lead to issues such as eczema.
Adding an extra layer of hydration to your routine is another great way to prevent skin dehydration, Dr. Gohara says. “As chill settles in, water heads out for a host of reasons,” she explains. “You layer clothes as it gets colder; you should layer on hydration too.” Her recommendation is to add a hyaluronic-acid-based serum or sheet mask to your skin-care routine alongside a heftier moisturizer. (The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a perfect and affordable starting point for HA newbies.)
2. Add a body lotion to the mix if you don’t normally use one.
When summer humidity ends, your skin may start to feel dry and itchy, as there is much less moisture in the air to help hydrate, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
The easiest way to stop the itch? By loading up on hydration from head to toe. “Moisturizers provide a protective barrier over the skin, allowing it to retain hydration and draw in hydration to the outer skin layer,” he says. We like H2O+ Beauty Milk Body Butter and La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+ Body Cream, which is packed with the same type of ceramides mentioned earlier.
3. Consider cutting back on exfoliating.
As the weather gets colder, it’s best to cut back on strong ingredients, like retinoids and glycolic acid, says Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D., associate clinical professor of the department of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Exfoliation, in general, is a tricky subject because it’s very easy to overdo it, chilly weather or not. “[Overexfoliation can] create tiny cracks in the skin barrier that lead to more loss of hydration and inflammation,” Dr. Zeichner previously explained.
You’ll know if you’re going too hard on your skin if it’s perpetually inflamed, irritated, itchy, or even straight up in pain. To avoid that, Dr. Tanzi recommends using glycolic treatment pads (like the alpha hydroxy acid-packed Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel) or a mask (like Biossance’s Squalane and Glycolic Renewal Mask) no more than once a week.
4. Also think about investing in a humidifier.
The dry heat from your home, apartment, or office serves another threat to your skin barrier. “Low humidity levels degrade the skin’s natural moisture barrier, which can lead to flaking, cracking, and peeling,” New York City board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D., previously explained.
Thankfully, you can boost the hydration in your home by adding your own moisturizer to the mix with the help of a humidifier, says Dr. Tanzi. A couple of our favorite skin-friendly humidifiers are the Dyson Humidifer and Hey Dewy’s Portable Humidifier (great for desks, travel, and tiny apartments). Turn it on as soon as you put the heat on for best results.
This article originally appeared on Allure.