From hydrating hyaluronic acid to skin-smoothing retinol, leading skin experts share their top picks for the ingredients you should add to your skincare routine this fall.
Change of season, change of skincare.So goes our motto here at Kona Skin Care, and, with the hot and humid days of summer behind us, there is no better time to reevaluate what products we’re making room for on our vanities.
Fall’s sweater weather ushers in cooler temps and drier air, which means the lightweight serums and moisturizers you were using to combat summer’s tropical climate may not provide the level of nourishment your skin now needs. Oh, and if you took a break from some of your more sensitizing products (think: retinols, acids, and the like) because you had upped your time in the sun, now could be the time to reach for them again — and atone for those summer skin sins.
So, when it comes to fall skincare, what are the non-negotiables? We went straight to the experts — in this case, the aestheticians and skin specialists that treat some of Hollywood’s most famous faces — to find out their must-have ingredients of the season, why they love them, and how to use them.
The Pro: Shani Darden, aesthetician and founder of Shani Darden Skin Care The Ingredient: Hyaluronic Acid
The Superpower: "As the weather gets cooler and the air becomes drier, I love to add hyaluronic acid to my routine," says the Beverly Hills aesthetician, whose clients include Jessica Alba, Chrissy Teigen, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. "It’s a great way to attract more hydration to the skin without needing to rely on a heavy moisturizer. It will really plump up the skin — helping it to look more glowing and hydrated."
How To Use It: Because the naturally occurring sugar molecule can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, you don't need a rich cream to enjoy a serious moisture boost. Darden recommends Dr. Nigma Serum No. 1 because the added peptides and plant stem cells "provide deep hydration and minimize the appearance of fine lines," while her own Daily Oil-Free Moisturizer is "a lightweight, fast-absorbing moisturizer with hyaluronic acid to hydrate without causing congestion ... for normal to oily skin types."
The Pro: Renée Rouleau, aesthetician and founder of Renée Rouleau Skincare The Ingredient: Retinol
The Superpower: "The purest form of vitamin A, retinol is a cell-communicating ingredient and antioxidant that stimulates collagen, activates cellular metabolism to encourage faster cell turnover, fades brown spots and discoloration, and improves skin firmness," says the Austin-based skin expert, who treats stars like Demi Lovato and Lili Reinhart. "Simply put, it’s an anti-aging powerhouse that can be tolerated by even the most sensitive skin types. It is one of the most studied and proven ingredients on the market and truly has the ability to create permanent change for the look of the skin."
How To Use It: If you took a break from your go-to vitamin A product over the summer, Rouleau says now is the time to start reaching for it again. Her pick? The Advanced Resurfacing Serum from her Renée Rouleau Skincare line that she describes as "a retinol cream treatment to repair sun damage, lift brown spots, smooth the skin, and reduce the look of lines, wrinkles and large pores over time." Oh, and it's specifically formulated for "sensitive skin types" and "those whose skin has been unable to tolerate prescription forms of vitamin A retinoids.
The Pro: Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skincare
The Ingredient: Avocado Oil
The Superpower: "It contains so many amazing vitamins for the skin and lymphatic system, so it will de-puff, hydrate and soothe the skin," says the bicoastal facialist, who works with the likes of Rachel Brosnahan, Debra Messing, and Tessa Thompson. "Avocado oil is essential because it's loaded with B vitamins and omega 3 fatty acid. Omega 3 helps keep the skin hydrated from the inside out. It plumps the lipid layer of the skin making the skin look lifted and baby soft."
How To Use It: Because of fall's drier (read: not humid) air and cooler temps, Vargas says the skin needs some extra TLC. She suggests adding nourishing ingredients in as many ways as possible. For starters, her cleansing Ritual Bar contains green tea to "soothe and improve sun damaged skin," coffee extract to "increase circulation and serve as an anti-inflammatory," and avocado oil to "hydrate and nourish." To ensure the complexion stays "persistently hydrated," she recommends her Daily Hydrating Cream, which calms inflammation and is great for sensitive skin types thanks to — you guessed it! — avocado oil.
The Pro: Kristina Holey, holistic skincare specialist
The Ingredient: Vitamin C
The Superpower: "Vitamin C is a multitasker. It is required to build collagen; it inhibits tyrosinase to brighten skin and fade hyperpigmentation; it is a potent antioxidant and sun protector. It is great for fall to recover from summer's increased sun exposure," says the San Francisco-based facialist, who co-created a line of skincare products with Marie Nadeau of Marie Veronique. "Vitamin C is not only essential for collagen production, but it also has many other benefits ... internally and externally it is a very crucial ingredient for body function."
How To Use It: Holey is quick to note that not all vitamin C is created equal. Because of its potency, the antioxidant can cause sensitivity if not formulated properly. She recommends the Marie Veronique Vitamins C + E + Ferulic Serum for "healthy, balanced skin" because it features both stabilized ascorbic acid and two vitamin C derivatives. "It increases the overall potency for skin that can tolerate ascorbic acid with a delivery system designed to get vitamin C where it needs to go in forms the skin can utilize to regenerate, heal, and repair itself," she shares.
The Pro: Tammy Fender, skin therapist and creator of Tammy Fender Holistic Skin Care
The Ingredient: Elder Flower
The Superpower: "Elder Flower, which is celebrated in traditional herbalism for its immune-boosting properties, is also wonderful for the complexion," says the Palm Beach holistic practitioner, who has worked with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Julianne Moore. "What I love about this legendary skin protector is the way that it soothes the skin — diminishing irritation but also, surprisingly, encouraging circulation and lymphatic drainage. In my experience, that’s how this remedy works on the energetic level, too — breaking up stagnation."
How To Use It: Calling it "a favorite ingredient" that she turns to again and again in both the treatment room and her apothecary, Fender says the botanical is "essential" to her "firming and cooling" Awakening Eye Gel and Spontaneous Recovery Crème, which she describes as her "most protective and rich moisturizer."
The Pro: Leila Aalam, aesthetician and founder of Beuti Skincare
The Ingredient: Fermented Pomegranate Seed Oil
The Superpower: "I love our fermented pomegranate seed oil for fall when the skin tends to get dry," says the London-based aesthetician, whose natural skincare line is rumored to be a favorite of the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex (a.k.a. Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle). "It is the holy grail of oils as it contains a rare omega 5 known as punic acid and has three times as many antioxidants as green tea. It promotes pro-collagen synthesis and ... with its high punic acid content, pomegranate seed oil has strong anti-inflammatory powers, which is the number one cause of skin aging."
How To Use It: The fruit extract can be found throughout Aalam's Beuti Skincare line, but her latest launch, the Pomegranate Glow Enzyme Cleanser, doubles as a face mask and contains fermented pomegranate seed oil that she says "acts as a gentle glycolic acid to exfoliate the skin — removing dirt, debris, and dead skin cells.” The result? "Healthy, glowing, and radiant skin."
The Pro: Kát Rudu, aesthetician and creator of Kát Rudu Skincare
The Ingredient: Retinol + Peptides
The Superpower: "Coming off of summer sun, excessive heat, sweating, and sunscreen, we can all use a little clean up, skin smoothing, and pore refining. Cellular turnover is key here, and every woman should incorporate a gentle retinol serum into her daily routine — especially one that has peptides," says the Venice, California-based skin expert. "Peptides signal the skin to produce more collagen and are small molecules, so they are able to penetrate and get down to business. For me, the 'must have' is actually the pairing."
How To Use It: To get the skin-smoothing and collagen-boosting benefits of retinol and the elasticizing effects of peptides, Rudu created her Iconic Liquid Lift Peptides Serum. "This is an ultra-light regenerative serum-based product that delivers a botanical boost to plump, tone, and refine," she shares, adding that it also contains plant extracts like mulberry to "brighten," gotu kola to "lift and firm," niacinamide for "moisture," cabbage rose for "antioxidants," and cucumber and aloe "to soothe and eliminate any possible irritation or inflammation."
The Pro: Marius Morariu, holistic nutritionist and product formulator/CEO at Tracie Martyn
The Ingredient: Antioxidants
The Superpower: "After summer, it’s important to start replenishing and restoring your skin to counteract the effects of sun exposure. We’re all about the antioxidants because they can really help both protect and revitalize your skin," says the multi-hyphenate, who works alongside celebrity aesthetician Tracie Martyn. "Every antioxidant works in a slightly different way, but the main thing they do is protect our skin from free radicals — unstable molecules that cause damage to skin cells."
How To Use It: As Morariu explains, there is an array of antioxidants to choose from, and he recommends the Tracie Martyn Firming Serum because it is "packed with powerful antioxidants that help revitalize your skin in different ways." Tetrahexylde ascorbate, for example, is a stable form of brightening vitamin C, while resveratrol, a compound found in wine, "helps promote cell longevity." Glutathione (which he calls the “mother of all antioxidants”), Indian gooseberry extract, and green tea also help to lift, firm, and moisturize.
The Pro: Angela Caglia, facialist and founder of Angela Caglia Skincare
The Ingredient: Hyaluronic Acid
The Superpower: "Hyaluronic acid for fall is my favorite ingredient. It holds its weight 1,000 times in water and hydrates the skin without being too heavy," says the facialist, who works with clients like Helena Christensen and Minnie Driver in New York and L.A. "It’s perfect for most skin types — even sensitive. Keeping the skin soft and supple with hydration is one of the keys to looking younger."
How To Use It: In addition to "drinking lots of water," Caglia suggests using a hyaluronic acid-based serum daily. Her Detox Serum, which she says is ideal for "hormonal breakout-prone skin" or "normal to oily skin with large pores," contains chlorophyll to "oxygenate the cells," sage extract to "purify," meadowfoam seed oil to "protect the barrier," and tea tree to "eliminate bacteria" — in addition to the moisture-boosting HA. "It has a light, cooling sensation that people love," she says of the product.