By Chrisanthi Kaliviotis

We know how to summer skin. We know how to winter skin. But what about skin in those seasons in between? Our approach to skincare in these middle seasons is often more mystifying than the former, with the path to skincare greatness far less formulaic in spring and particularly, autumn.

A typically tricky period as it’s not searing hot, or freezing cold — but somewhere in between — autumn is the time . Navigating this trans-seasonal skin space is somewhat challenging and not as straightforward as the summer/winter narrative, but it’s just as important.

Much like summer and winter, autumn still heralds a change in weather — and that means changes to our skin. Remember, even the slightest seasonal change can affect the skin barrier and therefore a shift in our approach to skincare is necessary. 

In fact, these middle months act as a lovely leeway period to rebuild and prepare; a time to bridge the gap between two extreme climates and reconcile any skin concerns. Basically autumn is a great time to do the groundwork: laying the foundations for what lies ahead (cold, brittle conditions). But it’s also a wonderful time to heal and make valuable skin reparations: because no season quite leaves its mark like summer (very, very literally).  So from healing post-summer to the top treatments to try, and of course, the best products to arm yourself with, behold a comprehensive guide to traversing tricky but totally achievable trans-seasonal skin this autumn (and beyond).

Clare McColl and Nicole Manning, two of Australia’s leading skin therapists and founders of FENN, a skin haven in Sydney’s Paddington, believe autumn is the season to strip back and start from scratch.  “It’s the perfect time to do a deep cleanse post-summer; after heavy usage of sunscreens, party makeup, sun and perhaps indulgences such as sugary treats, cocktails, etc — all of which can aggravate the skin.”  The skin barrier is often impaired after a long, hot summer — subject to things like sun damage and pigmentation, inflammation and dehydration — so deep exfoliation and the introduction of emollient products is imperative.  “We recommend paying a little extra attention to nourishing the skin with nutrient-rich serums and masks, plus focusing on more hydrating moisturisers to bolster skin barrier function and prep skin for winter,” McColl and Manning advise. “Continue to cleanse over the basin with warm water rather than in a hot shower where you tend to strip the skin a little.”


Out, Damned Spot!

Part of the healing process post-summer is an assault on pigmentation and sun damage. Even with rigorous (and mandatory!) application of SPF, the sun can still leave its mark, with photoaging caused by ultraviolet radiation a prime concern in the aftermath of summer.

Autumn proves a wonderful time to remedy this, with an approach that includes a mix of in-store treatments and targeted ingredients.

“Our approach to treating pigmentation includes regular LED light therapy sessions and a consistent home routine that includes niacinamide (B3), which is an anti-inflammatory and helps to suppress melanocytes (pigmentation is an over-production of melanin aka skin pigment),” say McColl and Manning. “Also introducing or increasing your retinol (Vitamin A) — we love the Medik8 Crystal Retinal System, as it makes it easy to gauge dosage and adjust as needed.”

In addition, Vitamin C is a must, helping to even and brighten skin tone which in turn can help with the appearance of pigment. But according to McColl and Manning, timing is everything.

“At FENN, we love Josh Rosebrook’s C Bright Complex and Medik8 C Tetra Luxe, but make sure to use at the opposite time of day to your retinol — generally we recommend a Vitamin C serum in the morning and Vitamin A in the evening. And keep up your SPF — even though it might not be a warm sunny day, UV rays can still cause skin damage and irritate pigment.”


Image – Medik8 Crystal Retinal System, Supplied by FENN



Much like the timelessness of trans-seasonal fashion pieces (a trench, classic white shirt, or exceptional pair of  THE UPSIDE  black leggings!), beauty too sees a plethora of timeless classics that transcend seasons and should always make up your skincare arsenal. But making small adjustments when it comes to your routine and ingredients is fruitful when transitioning from summer to autumn.

“Slight tweaks such as oil, cream or clay cleansers instead of gels or foams,” suggest McColl and Manning. “We love the Emma Lewisham Illuminating Oil Cleanser or Sans Cuticles Goji Face + Body Cleanser for the cooler months.”

Lack of sun and lower temperatures also mean it’s a good time to incorporate actives like Retinol (which makes the skin more sensitive to the sun).

“The cooler months are a good time to include stronger active ingredients in your skincare, such as retinols and chemical exfoliators (just be cautious around areas with sensitivities so as not to aggravate further).”

And of course, hoist your hydration game to new levels. “We suggest focusing on amping up hydration and repairing the skin barrier with Medik8 B5 Hydr8 Intense, and a creamier moisturiser such as Emma Lewisham Supernatural 72-Hour Crème, plus including a mask such as the Josh Rosebrook Advanced Hydration Mask one to two times a week.”




Image – Emma Lewisham Illuminating Oil Cleanser, Supplied by FENN


One of the biggest beauty myths is that oily skin means saying no to rich, oil-based moisturisers. But, it’s not the case.

“We often see those with oilier, acne-prone skin feel wary of richer moisturisers or oils in their skincare regime. But it’s important for these skin types to focus on hydration, too, as it aids in improving skin barrier health and regulating sebum (our body’s natural oil) production.”

But, for those still cautious, start slow. “We recommend starting with a lightweight oil such as Lesse Ritual Serum and blend into your regular moisturiser.”Of course, as the temperature drops outside, the temperature increases inside, as we turn to heating and hot showers that while keep us warm, wreak havoc on hydration.

“Be mindful of hot showers, heaters and cooler weather impacting skin by creating dry cheeks, lips and around the nose. Maryse Treatment Balm is a great companion for protecting and touching up sensitive, dry patches.”