We ask the experts how to adapt your skincare routine for the new season to help keep skin looking healthy & its best

You wouldn’t wear a puffer jacket during a midsummer heatwave or don a bikini when it’s frosty. But just as you switch up your clothing, your dermatological wardrobe needs a reboot every season to ensure your skincare products are appropriate for the climate and your skin’s changing needs. Here, the experts reveal how changing your skincare routine on a seasonal basis could be the key to keeping your skin in its optimum condition.

How often should you switch up your skincare routine?

"At the very least, your skincare routine should change with the seasons for healthy skin," explains Dr Derrick Phillips, a consultant dermatologist. "Just as we change our clothing to be more appropriate for the prevailing weather conditions, our skincare should also adapt to address the changes in humidity, temperature and UV exposure that occur with the change in seasons."

While there are "no miracle skincare products, the right combination used at the right time may help them work most effectively." says Dr Surbhi Virmani, a cosmetic dermatologist. "Each skin cycle, which is the time taken for the skin to shed dead skin cells and bring new cells to the surface, lasts between 28 to 35 days. For a visible change, we need the product to work its magic for three or four skin cycles.

"Patience is key. Also, it’s best to change one product at a time and let your skin get used to it. This helps test your skin for any potential allergy or reaction." 

The best year-round baseline skincare routine

"A bare bones skincare routine should contain a cleanser, a moisturiser and a sunscreen," explains Dr Derrick.

"Your choice of cleanser should be largely dictated by your skin type. Those with oily skin types should avoid oil-based cleansers where possible and opt for water-based or micellar water cleansers – and vice versa.

"Moisturisers rich in humectants, such as glycerin or hyaluronic acid, are suitable for most skin types and a high-factor sunscreen (SPF 30+ with 5-star UVA protection) should be used throughout the year.

"Retinol is a staple skincare product and should be incorporated into your evening routine where possible. Those with sensitive skin will need to start off at a low strength and with once or twice weekly application. 

"Additional active ingredients can be added to address particular goals, such as vitamin C to help brighten skin."

How to switch-up your skincare routine for autumn

"If you’re moving from summer to autumn, dryness can start," says Dr Surbhi. "This means one thing: your moisturiser needs to be thicker. Ceramide-based moisturisers work like mortar to help keep the bricks or cells of our skin together and provide a tight armour. This translates to potentially less irritation of the skin and increased hydration.

Dr Surbhi also recommends starting your retinol treatment in the autumn. "It is advisable to start using your retinol-based product for two nights a week, building it up to seven nights a week with weekly increments. This lets your skin adjust to the product without irritating the skin," she says.

"And avoid alcohol-based toners and migrate back towards oil-based cleansers (unless you have oily skin)  which in addition to cleaning the skin, help lock in moisture," adds Dr Derrick. 

Also, address any pigmentation that develops over the summer months during the autumn and winter months as the days get shorter and the intensity of UV sun exposure falls. "During the winter months, heavier sunscreens or those in nourishing moisturisers may be preferred," says Dr Derrick.

Check out our feature on achieving the perfect autumn skincare routine for even more useful beauty nuggets.

The best skincare products for autumn

Try: CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser

• 236ml

This oil-based wash is formulated with three essential ceramides, glycerin and hyaluronic acid to help cleanse and hydrate.

Try: Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum

• 30pc

• Suitable for all skin types

• Clinically and dermatologist tested

These single-dose capsules work to help visibly diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles, while improving skin texture and tone. 

Try: Botanics All Bright Bi-Phase Glow Facial Oil

• 25ml

• Cruelty-free

• Responsible packaging

A few drops pressed into skin helps reveal brighter-looking, glowing skin, improving the look of uneven skin tone and nourishing dried-out skin.

How to switch-up your skincare for winter

"Over winter, you will definitely need more moisture. Richer night creams – think creams and ointments over fluids and gels – are a winter must-have, as skin can dehydrate in both the cold outside air, the dry central heating and steamy showers," says Dr Sophie Shotter, an aesthetic and skin doctor. 

"A moisturiser rich in ceramides will help lock in moisture and decrease how much water evaporates from your skin. 

"You will also find skin could be a little flakier during winter, so using a good acid-based exfoliant regularly can help keep skin looking smooth and radiant."

Dr Derrick also advises exercising caution if using chemical peels, to "avoid aggravating the dryness caused by extreme cold temperatures and low humidity". 

And SPF is still essential as "UVA is present all year round, penetrates clouds and window glass, and is responsible for 80% of the signs of ageing*", adds Dr Derrick.

The best skincare products for winter

Try: ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF30

• 50ml

Firms, smooths and hydrates – this 3-in-1 anti-ageing day cream is the perfect thirsty skin quencher. The addition of SPF30 delivers the sun protection you need to get you through the winter months.

Try: IT Cosmetics Confidence In a Cream

• 60ml

This contains hyaluronic acid and naturally occurring lipids to help skin retain moisture, great for when central heating and dry, cold weather dries out your skin.

Try: Dr.Jart+ Pore Remedy PHA Exfoliating Serum

• 30ml

• Dermatologist tested

• For sensitive skin

With 7% PHA, a chemical exfoliator with a large molecular size that tends to be gentler than AHAs and BHAs on skin, and panthenol, this non-drying exfoliator helps smooth sensitised, flaky skin.

How to switch-up your skincare for spring

"With UK weather being so unpredictable, spring skincare should be considered on a day-by-day basis, depending on the weather," advises Dr Shotter.

"As a general rule, start thinking about transitioning back to lightweight moisturisers and SPFs that won’t clog pores, or maybe using richer ones slightly less frequently. 

"Lightweight hydration through hyaluronic acid serums will help the skin stay soft through the transitional season, especially in colder-than-expected weather."

The best skincare products for spring

Try: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Filler 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid Serum

• 30ml

• For all skin types

This lightweight formula contains macro and micro molecular weight hyaluronic acid to help attract water to both the skin’s surface and deeper layers – and keep it locked in.

Try: Simple 10% Vitamin C+E+F Booster Serum

• 30ml

• Vegan

Enriched with vitamins C, E and F, this serum is great at helping to protect the skin from environmental and lifestyle aggressors including pollution. It leaves skin looking visibly brighter and hydrated.

How to switch-up your skincare for summer

"In the spring and summer months, we are exposed to increased heat, humidity and UV levels to which our skin responds by producing more oils, giving us a greater shine," explains Dr Surbhi. 

"Increased sweat and oil production, combined with increased environmental temperatures, can make the skin more prone to breakouts. The skin can look clogged and the pores appear bigger."

"It is, therefore, important to change to lighter products that will not occlude your skin," says Dr Derrick. "This means changing from oil-based cleansers to water-based, micellar water or acid-based cleansers and opting for lotions or light creams instead of occlusive emollients. 

"You should also opt  for oil-free, light, non-comedogenic sunscreens. It should be applied diligently and frequently, particularly if you are using retinol, alpha or beta hydroxy acids, which exfoliate the skin and reduce the threshold for sunburn."

On the subject of AHAs, Dr Shotter adds: "Consider cutting back on AHAs, which can sun-sensitise you and substitute for peptides to help relax the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as these can become deeper when we squint more in the sun."

The best skincare products for summer

Try: Boots Ingredients Salicylic Acid Cleanser

• 50ml

• Non-drying

• Vegan

• Not tested on animals

This deeply cleanses and lifts dirt, oil and sweat that warm weather can leave behind, helping to remove excess oil from pores without drying skin.

Try: La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMUNE 400 Invisible Fluid SPF50

• 50ml

• Tested on contact lens wearers.

• Allergy tested

Invisible, lightweight and non-greasy, this high-level UV protection is just the thing for hot, sticky days in the sun.

Not sure on the right product for you? Try our skincare tool & find a personalised solution