Just as seasons come and go, so should certain aspects of your skincare routine. It’s the same idea as rearranging your closet in the summer so that your dresses are more accessible than your sweaters — swapping out your beauty products based on the weather is important for your complexion.
While summer months bring about intensely dry, hot weather in some parts of the country, other areas are hit hard with an influx of humidity. Either way, it can wreak havoc on your skin. And that’s not to mention rashes, bug bites and weird bumps that crop up thanks to exposed skin and warm-weather pests. In addition, we have to be far more diligent about wearing sunscreen in the summertime, when UV rays are at an all-time high (although we should be applying SPF year-round, even on cloudy days!).
So before you set your sights on beach days, backyard BBQs and poolside parties, consider these solutions for setting your skin up for summer success.
Don’t skimp on sunscreen
Yes, you should be wearing SPF all year round, but it’s especially important in warmer months when UVA and UVB rays are more intense. Even just 15 minutes of daily sun exposure can add up over time and lead to significant skin damage in the form of accelerated photoaging, hyperpigmentation and wrinkles. Your best bet is to opt for an oil-free, broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains at least SPF 30. Remember to let it absorb before applying makeup!
The really important thing about summertime sunscreen is remembering to reapply. That’s because SPF is only effective for 1.5 to 2 hours, especially if you’re swimming or sweating. Need to reapply over your makeup? Opt for a powdered sunscreen instead.
Add an antioxidant
Antioxidants are excellent at fighting free radicals — those environmental toxins that cause harm to your skin. Summertime pollution coupled with the sun’s harsh rays only cause those free radicals to be more aggressive. To further protect your skin barrier during the warm-weather season, as well as prevent premature signs of aging and uneven skin tone, add an antioxidant-rich serum to your routine. Look for serums that contain vitamins C and E and can be layered under your moisturizer and sunscreen!
Swap out your moisturizer
If you’re currently using a heavier day cream, consider switching to a lightweight moisturizer. It will offer mostly the same benefits without weighing down your skin. Skip any heavy night creams as well and opt instead for a light moisturizer or serum with hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, that will add dewiness and moisture to your complexion.
Try hydrating instead of moisturizing
Did you know there’s a difference between hydrating and moisturizing? Hydrating adds moisture back into the skin, whereas moisturizing keeps the lipids and waters within your skin, and prevents them from evaporating. Typically moisturizers are oil-based and hydrators are water-based.
While you don’t need a thick, heavy cream in the summertime, you may still find you have dehydrated, irritated skin, and that’s when hydrators or hydro gels come in handy. They add hydration without congesting pores, so they’re especially great for those with oily or sensitive skin. Tip: Toss your hydrator or gel in the fridge for an added cooling effect — it will feel like a spa treatment on a hot summer day!
Reevaluate your exfoliation routine
Most people think they have to exfoliate more in the summer because they’re sweating more, but this actually isn’t true. When we sweat in warm weather our sweat remains liquid and easily escapes our pores. It’s in the winter, when our sweat hardens more quickly and turns to sebum, that we need to exfoliate to clear out our pores.
Skin is also more prone to dryness in the winter, so you may also find yourself exfoliating more frequently in colder months to get rid of dry skin. But to face summertime weather, mild exfoliation once a week is likely all you’ll need. Plus, exfoliating AHAs and BHAs can cause sensitivity to the sun, which is something to be aware of if you’re spending more time outdoors.
Treat your pigmentation
Some people think they should wait until winter to treat their hyperpigmentation, or dark spots. That’s true if you’re using ingredients that react to the sun, such as retinol. But what you can (and should use) is a hyperpigmentation inhibitor — like hydroquinone or alpha-arbutin — to simultaneously prevent sun damage and lighten pigmentation. Try SkinMedica’s Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum.
Freshen up with a mist
Facial mists are all the rage, and for good reason. Who doesn’t love a few spritzes of a refreshing, cleansing mist when it’s extra hot or sticky out? Facial sprays come in many forms and have a multitude of benefits — they can rehydrate the skin, prevent makeup from slipping, protect from pollution, calm irritated skin, deliver antioxidants, and even protect from germs and bacteria.
Hopefully, these pointers are enough to help you shift your summer routine accordingly. Ultimately, how you take care of your skin — and with what ingredients — will depend heavily on the summer weather where you’re living and your skin type. If you have any questions, consult your dermatologist!