Southern California may not have the same change-of-season drama as other locales in the fall and winter, but it's not all a weather wonderland either. Santa Ana winds, indoor heating and cooler temperatures can strip skin, leaving it cracked and parched. Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Michael Lin shares tips for updating your skin care routine to put your best face forward now, through the holidays and into the new year.
Repair summer sun damage
"During summer in L.A. we accumulate a lot of sun damage that results in sun spots and blotchy skin," Lin says. "I recommend in-office intense pulsed light treatments and chemical peels to even out skin tone."
He suggests following these treatments by using alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic or lactic acid, or vitamin C products every morning to gently exfoliate the skin. "I really like lactic acid. It's much more moisturizing than the other acids," says Lin.
For many skin types, Lin also recommends using a facial scrub once a week and occasionally using an exfoliating cleansing brush, such as Clarisonic. "But don't overdo it [exfoliation], particularly if you have sensitive skin or acne, or you'll make your skin worse," he says. You might consider exfoliating oilier facial areas, like the forehead, but not drier areas, such as cheeks. "Go to a dermatologist to learn the best treatment regime for your individual needs," Lin advises.
He suggests using an anti-aging retinoid cream at night to stimulate collagen production and skin cell turnover.
Keep using sunscreen
In fall and winter, Angelenos still need broad spectrum, UVA-UVB sunscreen, SPF 30 or above. "The sun causes 90% of premature aging," Lin says. "We're so active in California, hiking, gardening. [But] we don't reapply sunscreen often enough, so also wear sun-protective clothing. And protect your lips. I have a lot of patients who develop skin cancer on the lips, one of the most dangerous places to get skin cancer."
Lay it on thick
Using moisturizer is more important than ever this season.
"Santa Ana winds and indoor heating work together to remove skin's protective oils and moisture," says Lin, who adds that skiers need to use extra care and really thick moisturizer.
"In extreme conditions, the thicker the moisturizer, the better. Vaseline is the ultimate moisturizer because nothing gets through it, but it clogs your pores," Lin says. He recommends Aquaphor Healing Skin Ointment as a less "goopy" alternative.
"I also like moisturizers with lactic acid in them or hyaluronic acid," he says. He says a good moisturizer has ingredients such as mineral oil or beeswax that are occlusive, meaning they serve as a physical barrier to prevent water loss from evaporation; lanolin or natural plant oil emollients that smooth and soften; and aloe vera, glycerine or another humectant to attract and retain moisture. If you can't find one moisturizer to do it all, it's OK to layer two or three.
Switch to a hydrating, low-sulfate or sulfate-free cleanser that still removes dirt and oil. "Over-washing and hot water are drying. Use warm water instead," says Lin. And if you've got extremely dry skin or live in extremely dry conditions, "Humidifiers are good."
Some products to try for fall-winter skin care:
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, $12.99, ulta.com
Mila Moursi Cleansing Milk, $75, milamoursiskincare.com
Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Moisturizer, $45, shop.nordstrom.com
DHC Renewing AHA Cream. $31.50, dhccare.com
Clinique CX Antioxidant Rescue Serum, $135, neimanmarcus.com
Dr. Dennis Gross Clinical Concentrate Hydration Booster, $36, sephora.com
Kiehl's Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate, $58, neimanmarcus.com
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $15.99, ulta.com
Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $4.99, target.com
Caudalie Premier Cru La Crème Riche, $158, us.caudalie.com
Estée Lauder Nutritious Radiant Vitality Essence Oil, $68, macys.com
Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate, $65, sephora.com
Radical Skincare Extreme Repair Crème, $150, and Skin Perfecting Screen SPF 30, $55, radicalskincare.com
Dr. Lin Daily Hydrating Gel, $7.49, ulta.com