One thing the weather and our skin have in common—they’re everchanging. Our skin is constantly reacting to the elements, which means our skin’s needs are constantly adapting. Especially as the seasons change and temperatures plunge or rise, our skin’s complexion, hydration levels, texture and pigmentation are doing just the same.
To provide your skin with the TLC it needs, you need to adjust your skincare routine to accommodate seasonal changes. What works for your skin in the winter, won’t quite meet your skin’s needs in the summer.
Though most of your skincare products need to be modified for the summer, sun protection remains a constant. Especially in the summer, when the days are longer and the sun’s UV rays are intense, you want to keep your skin hydrated, bright, and protected.
No matter what season it is, you’ll want to include these skincare basics in your routine: cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen. The ingredients in your products should vary as the temperature changes.
The goal is to nourish the skin and protect it from UV rays, without clogging the pores and exacerbating its naturally oily film.
Here are the top skincare tips for every step of your summer skin care routine:
1.Cleanser Tips for Summer Skincare
Wherever you are in the world, summer probably means lots of sweating. And lots of sweating means an increased chance of clogged pores. When the skin is moist from sweat, it’s a magnet for dirt and debris. As dirt, pollutants and random particles stick to your face, they can clog your pores, which creates acne breakouts.
Cleanser Tip: Using a gentle cleanser is key in the summer.
Gentle foaming cleansers and cleansing creams that go below the surface of the skin to remove dirt, debris and residual sunscreen from the pores, without stripping the skin of its natural oils, are prime. Maintaining the skin’s natural barrier during the heat of the summer is essential for protecting the skin from the sun’s longlasting UV rays.
Harsh cleansers that strip the skin barrier should be avoided entirely. Don’t deprive your skin of its natural defense mechanism. Your gentle cleanser should be kind to your skin, but proactive in cleansing the impurities from your skin.
Cleanser Tip: Reserve your chemical and physical exfoliants for your nighttime routine—only.
Exfoliating during the summer months is necessary. The heat and humidity trigger sebum production in the skin, which means increased oil production. Increased oil production means increased risk of clogged pores, and we all know what clogged pores lead to... unsightly acne breakouts.
When it comes to exfoliation, we’ll recommend chemical exfoliants over physical exfoliants in any season. Chemical exfoliants, like BHAs (salicylic acid) and AHAs (glycolic acid), exfoliate the skin on a cellular level. These exfoliants work by breaking down the sugars in the skin to loosen the dead skin cells on the surface. This forces the dead skin cells to shed and new skin cells to generate.
Physical exfoliants, on the other hand, use sheer force and friction to exfoliate the skin. Rubbing grains against your face during physical exfoliation can damage the skin barrier and damage the fresh new skin cells that we want to protect at all costs.
Especially during the summer, we want to strengthen our skin barrier so it can keep our skin hydrated and protected from the sun’s UV rays. Over-exfoliating and exfoliating before basking in the sun leaves our skin defenseless, vulnerable and susceptible to sun damage.
Use exfoliants only at night—and use them sparingly. In fact, be calculated about your exfoliation routine. Use them a few nights a week (give or take a night depending on your skin’s sensitivity) and plan to use them a few days before you’ll be in the sun for an extended period of time. Don’t exfoliate the night before you head to the beach.
(The same goes for retinol. Similar to chemical exfoliants, retinol prompts cellular turnover, which leaves new skin cells vulnerable to sun damage. Use retinol only at night, and consider only using it once or twice a week.)
2.Toner Tips for Summer Skincare
Toner is always a must. The right toner will work alongside your skin’s natural composition to balance your skin’s pH levels. Skin pH levels have everything to do with oily skin, dry skin, and every skin type in between.
A quick lesson in skin pH: Skin has a natural pH level of about 5.5. On the pH scale of 0 to 14, 5.5 is rather acidic. (This is why our skin has an acid mantle, also known as the skin barrier.) This pH scale is responsible for the oil-to-water ratio in our skin.
The lower our skin is on the pH scale, the more acidic it is. Acidity = oiliness.
The higher our skin is on the pH scale, the more alkaline it is. Alkalinity = dryness.
This is what makes toner such a valuable part of our summer skin care routine. Toning the skin helps to regulate sebum production. During the summer, sebum production is at its highest, which can be a nightmare for our fellow oily skin folk. Toners support our skin in maintaining ideal oil and hydration levels, and they remove any leftover product or grime left on the skin after cleansing.
Toner Tip: Use toners with aloe vera, witch hazel, and/or tea tree oil.
Aloe vera is natural, antibacterial, and antimicrobial. Using a toner with aloe vera is basically a double-cleanse for your face. Especially in the summer, antibacterial properties in your skincare ingredients are essential for maintaining a fresh, gunk-free complexion. Aloe is also anti-inflammatory, so it can effectively dull any sun-induced redness or irritation on your face.
Witch hazel is another naturally-occurring, skin-perfecting agent, derived from the leaves and bark of the American witch-hazel plant. Witch hazel has natural astringent properties, meaning it triggers skin cells to contract. When the skin cells contract, so do the pores, and acne blemishes. (Hello shrunken pores and reduced acne.) Our pores visibly expand when we sweat or encounter humidity, so a natural astringent in our summer skin care routine is absolutely mandatory.
Tea tree oil, like our other two toner ingredient must-haves, is a natural ingredient with powerful skincare benefits. This agent is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, and has tons of different uses for the body. Tea tree oil is used to clean wounds, to treat psoriasis and eczema, to treat oily skin, itchy skin, dry skin—the list goes on. Toners with tea tree oil will penetrate deep into the pores to kill bacteria at the source.
Toner Tip: If you love your skin, avoid toners with alcohol.
No matter your skincare concern, toners with alcohol will only make the problem worse. Alcohol dries out the skin, which leads to premature aging in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin—everything we’re trying to counteract.
It may be especially tempting to use an alcohol-based toner during the summer months, when our skin hits record high oiliness, but alcohol can actually make an oily skin condition worse. Alcohol will dry out the skin temporarily, but this triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more oil to compensate for a lack of hydration.
Alcohol also strips the skin of its natural, protective oils. Just like over-exfoliating, toning the skin with alcohol can make your skin more susceptible to sun damage.
3.Serum Tips for Summer Skincare
We love serums. Serums with antioxidants are one of the best ways to nourish and revitalize the skin year-round. Serums are potent, brightening, hydrating, and refreshing. Providing your skin with antioxidants is like giving your skin the gift of vitality—especially during the long days of relentless UV rays.
Serum Tip: Vitamin C is the one you need.
Vitamin C can do wonders for your skin complexion. Dermatologists and skincare professionals rave about the benefits of adding vitamin C to your skincare routine, and rightfully so.
Vitamin C is not only anti-aging, skin-tone-evening, wrinkle-reducing, and pore-shrinking, but it’s a powerful sun protectant too. Studies show that a combination of vitamin C and sunscreen can be incredibly beneficial for protecting the skin from UV rays and treating sun damage.
All forms of sun damage and over exposure to the sun (like hyperpigmentation, dark circles, dull skin, dark spots, wrinkles, and enlarged pores) can be treated with a vitamin C serum. That’s because vitamin C is a miraculous antioxidant. Antioxidants transform the skin on a cellular level, by neutralizing free radicals.
There are a number of factors that contribute to the formation of free radicals (the terrible, unstable molecules that progress skin-aging) and sun exposure is one of them. Applying a vitamin C booster in the morning and at night can provide your skin with an additional, much-needed barrier from the sun.
Vitamin C should be at the top of your summer skincare list—right beside sunscreen.
4.Moisturizer and Sunscreen Tips for Summer Skincare
We’re lumping moisturizer with sunscreen, because many moisturizers contain SPF and most sunscreens are moisturizing. During the summer especially, it’s a good idea to choose a quality, lightweight moisturizer that contains SPF.
Moisturizer and SPF Tip: Don’t you dare pass up sunscreen.
Moisturizing the skin sufficiently is always in season, but we understand the struggle of perpetually oily skin, acne-prone skin, and combination skin. While a thick moisturizing lotion is optimal for maintaining skin hydration in dry, cold winter weather, thick moisturizers can leave your skin feeling oily, sticky, and acne-inflamed when the humidity and heat are high in the summer.
Choosing moisturizers with hyaluronic acid, specifically, can hydrate your skin throughout the summertime without leaving a film of unabsorbed product on your face. Hyaluronic acid increases the skin’s resilience, increases collagen production, and increases the rate of cellular turnover. Applying a lightweight hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid before applying sunscreen can protect your skin’s moisture barrier and help your skin to retain moisture from your sunscreen.
Sunscreen is paramount in preserving the skin’s youthfulness and protecting skin health. Not only does sun exposure drastically increase your chances of developing skin cancer, but it’s also responsible for 90% of visible skin aging. From a cosmetic standpoint and a critical health standpoint, wear sunscreen with broad spectrum SPF 30 or above everyday.
During the warmer months, it’s all about protecting the skin barrier to maintain healthy skin. Thick moisturizers, chemical exfoliants and active ingredients (like retinol) take a temporary back seat, and the hydrating, sun-protecting ingredients (like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid) lead the way.
Whether you have sensitive skin, oily skin, or combination skin, your skincare routine needs some modifications throughout the seasons if you want your best skin to come