What To Do When Climate Change Affects Your Skin


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Endless stories in fashion magazines lead you to believe that different seasons automatically require different skin-care products, but it isn't universally true because not everyone's skin responds to weather changes the same way. Simply put, weather is not a skin type. Buying skin-care products based purely on the season is not only a waste of money, but also can make your skin concerns worse.
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As is always the case, you have to pay attention to what your skin is telling you, no matter what time of year it is. If going from summer to fall and then winter changes your skin, then you do need to tweak your skin-care routine; if it doesn't change your skin, then there is absolutely no reason to do anything different.

Ultimately, you should always protect your skin and supply it with beneficial ingredients to keep it healthy year-round. However, it's also imperative to assess your skin on a regular basis to determine what effect (if any) the change of weather brings, and then adapt your skin-care routine as needed. Here is our guide to keeping your skin beautiful and healthy when weather takes a toll.

Preventing Fall and Winter Dryness

If your skin starts feeling drier, flaky, or itchy during the cold months, or if you find yourself in an arid environment, such as traveling from Seattle to Phoenix (which can definitely be climate change for your skin), the dry air, both inside and out, are probably to blame. Here's what you can do to make your skin feel smooth and comfortable again:

  • Consider changing your cleanser (both facial and body) from a gel or foaming water-soluble cleanser to one that has a lotion or creamy texture. This simple change may completely take care of the problem.
  • You also can consider a richer, lotion-type toner. After cleansing, a soothing, moisturizing toner can immediately calm your skin and establish a base for making your skin healthy after cleansing, as well as removing the last traces of makeup.
  • Depending on how dry your skin becomes, you may need a more emollient moisturizer. Any moisturizer should be loaded with ingredients that help keep moisture in your skin (glycerin, ceramides, fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid are just a few examples). Your moisturizer also should contain anti-inflammatory ingredients to reduce irritation, cell-communicating ingredients to help skin produce normal skin cells, and antioxidants to fight off free-radical damage. All Paula's Choice moisturizers are formulated with these types of beneficial ingredients, so you can rest assured your skin is getting what it needs.
  • Adding a serum loaded with these ingredients also can help at night, providing another layer of protecting ingredients while you sleep.
  • For some people, the change to cold, dry weather can result in dry, cracked skin. If that's the case, apply a cream or lotion containing 2% salicylic acid (BHA, beta hydroxy acid) to exfoliate built-up skin cells that lead to dull skin, clogged pores, and breakouts.
  • Flaky, chapped lips are more common at this time of year and may require some extra TLC. Remove dry, dead skin cells with a gentle lip exfoliant and follow up with a rich, emollient lip balm for super smooth lips.
  • Don't forget sunscreen! Even if you don't see much sun where you live, and even when the hours of daylight are reduced, sun protection is essential—year-round! Your skin can withstand any climate change better when it isn't being damaged day in and day out by the sun.

Warm Weather Issues

When moving to a warmer climate or going from spring to summer, the increased heat can make oil (sebum) melt inside the pore. This causes liquefied oil to flood the skin's surface, resulting in a shiny appearance. In addition, the increase in sweat mixed with oil feels uncomfortable, and leaves you looking greasy. Following are things you can do to address these changes:

  • During warmer months you may need to use a more thorough gel or foaming cleanser to be sure you are cleaning all the oil off your skin without adding more.
  • Reduce the amount of creamy or rich lotion moisturizer you use, or stop altogether. If you don't have dry skin, you really don't need moisturizer in the traditional sense of the word; that is, thick lotions and creams. Instead, consider a well-formulated toner, gel, or serum to give your skin the essential substances it needs (antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-identical ingredients) to stay young without adding oil or emollients.
  • For extra shine control when the heat or humidity is intense, use an oil-absorbing product, which also minimizes the appearance of pores. Oil-blotting papers also can help absorb excess oil and sweat, plus they're great for touchups on-the-go.
  • If you aren't already using a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) exfoliant, now is a good time to start. BHA (salicylic acid) can penetrate into the pore to exfoliate built-up skin cells that clog pores and lead to breakouts. A well-formulated BHA exfoliant also can help fade discolorations that result from sun damage and get rid of blackheads. What's not to love about that?
  • When your skin is already feeling oily, we know how hard it can be to follow up with sun protection, but it is the most important part of any skin-care routine, regardless of the weather. Try a mattifying sunscreen or use a foundation and pressed powder with sunscreen instead. These can work beautifully to provide the sun protection that skin needs without making it feel greasy.

If your skin reacts to seasonal and climate changes, this guide will help you maintain perfect skin year-round, without having to replace all your skin-care products every time the cold blows in or the mercury rises. With minor adjustments as needed, you can have beautiful skin that's ready for whatever Mother Nature sends your way!

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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