Fall is your hair and skincare’s transition time to correct summer’s wear and tear and prepare you for cooler weather
By Adriana Ermter
If the arrival of fall’s crisp, invigorating air has you making lists, longing for organization and pining for a fresh start, you’re not alone. For many people, back-to-school season inspires clean-sweeping your house and detailing the Mazda3. If you’re smart, it also means deep cleansing and updating your skin and haircare routine—because a change in seasons means a change in how your scalp and skin behave.
“The way your skin and hair looks and feels at the close of summer is noticeably different from when the season began,” explains Charmaine Cooper, education manager for Dermalogica Canada. “We’re exposed to so many assaultive climates and polluted environments that dryness, dehydration, pigmentation and sensitivity cause dullness and dryness and, dare we even say, make us a bit haggard looking.”
The culprits: summer sunshine, wind, salt water, chlorine and increased sweat. Just eight weeks ago, the warm, sunny tan you fondly referred to as your healthy glow now appears dull and discoloured—a manifestation of skin damage robbing your face and body of its taut and youthful appearance. The combination of harsh, hot winds and a proliferation of sweat have formed a glue-like film all over your head and body that adhere pollution particles to your hair and skin, leaving it coarse and rough. And the harsh chemicals from the pool and the salt from the ocean have stripped your moisture from head to toe, making your hair and dermis look and feel brittle and parched.
“It is critical for a healthy regimen to commence correctly,” says Cooper. “If the hair and skin is not cleansed properly, every proceeding step after that is hindered and rendered ineffective.”
And that makes this transition time. Here’s your step-by-step guide to correct summer’s wear and tear and prepare you for cooler weather.
The oil flow that takes place in the skin, including the scalp, during the summer months is still occurring, yet the season’s cooler air is creating layers of dead skin cells. This traps oil and bacteria beneath the surface of the skin on your scalp, which leads to an increase in sensitivity and, potentially, dandruff. “The causative factor of dandruff is a fungus called Malassezia globosa,” says Dr. Rolanda J. Wilkerson, principal scientist for hair care for Procter and Gamble. “The fungus feeds off sebum (the scalp’s natural oils), and then releases fatty acids that initiate inflammation of the scalp and itching and induces rapid skin cell turnover, hence flaking.”
The first step is to remove the built-up layers of dead skin cells on your scalp with a scalp-care-specific shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione or selenium sulfide to restore the scalp back to a healthy state (such as Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Shampoo, $9, available at Walmart and drugstores). But you also need to add a little extra hydration immediately afterwards, so use a second shampoo and conditioner. Choose products such as Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner (from $25 each, available at www.moroccanoil.com), replete with ingredients such as avocado, argan and jojoba oils; these help to repair your dry scalp and damaged strands by adding moisture. Antioxidant plant extracts such as lavender, chamomile and rosemary will soothe, refresh, and protect from environmental pollutants. Rubbing an oil-based hair treatment like Moroccanoil Mending Infusion ($37, available at www.moroccanoil.com) into the ends of your hair will also work to nourish, condition and help strengthen damaged locks. But make sure to avoid products containing sulfates, phosphates or parabens, as they can irritate your scalp and create a filmy build-up on your hair. “Be proactive about your hair care,” advises Dr. Wilkerson. “Your scalp will appreciate it.”
Because the skin on your face accumulates both water-based debris (sweat and pollution) and oil-based debris (pollution and sunscreens), one cleanse cannot sufficiently remove it all. “A fresh start for healthy skin means to start with step zero,” says Cooper. A pre-cleansing product, such as Dermalogica PreCleanse Balm ($62, available at spas and www.dermalogica.ca) is needed first to break up and wash away the oils. Follow up with a second wash with a second cleanser suitable to all skin types such as Neutrogena Pore Refining Cleanser (from $9, available at drugstores), to purify and condition your face.
Exfoliation is also a critical step in deep cleansing; this will eradicate excess dirt, dead skin cells and oil while thoroughly cleaning your pores. For sensitive to normal skin, opt for products comprised of finer, softer exfoliants such as rice, bran and oatmeal to gently loosen dead skin cells for a brighter complexion. For thicker, coarser skin, ingredients like hydroxy acid and charcoal, found in products like Dermalogica Daily Superfoliant ($79, available at spas and www.dermalogica.ca), provide deeper purification.
Adding a mask that combines deep cleansing, exfoliation and hydration (such as Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy Boosting Face Mask, $62, available at www.fresh.com) into your weekly routine can also benefit and replenish your skin, including your lips. “An all-in-one, exfoliating treatment mask is an excellent way to address multiple skin concerns such as dullness, dehydration, congestion and lack of lustre,” adds Cooper.
For your body, shower scrubs that include ingredients to target thicker, coarser skin—like salt, sugar and even crushed apricot or walnut shells—will offer optimum exfoliation. Better still if these scrubs are oil based, as they’ll break up deep layers of dirt and debris while simultaneously moisturizing your skin.
Products with enzymes often found in fruit-based ingredients like papaya, pineapple and even pumpkin, as well as in hydroxy acids, “help accelerate skin renewal and minimize ingrown hairs,” says Cooper. But make sure your body scrub of choice also includes hydrating ingredients such as honey, aloe vera, milk and essential oils found in items like Aveda Beautifying Radiance Polish ($69, available at Aveda salons). “The skin on the body is very different than the skin on the face,” says Cooper. “It is coarser and requires formulas with a larger molecular weight to hydrate, smooth and condition it.”
ADRIANA ERMTER is a Toronto-based, lifestyle-magazine pro who has travelled the globe, writing about must-spritz fragrances, child poverty, beauty and grooming.