9 Ways Dermatologists Change Up Their Skin Care for Spring and Summer
Along with that chunky, cable knit, oversize sweater, you can toss out or store away these skincare products during the warmer months.
They swap cream moisturizers for lightweight ones
In the winter, we need heavier creams to combat the cold and dry air we face when we step outside, but, thankfully, with the arrival of spring, temperatures rise and so does humidity. “During the warmer seasons, lighter moisturizing lotions will likely provide enough moisture for the skin, while heavier and creamier formulations may lead to clogged pores and breakouts,” explains Melissa Piliang, MD, dermatologist in Cleveland, Ohio. Look for products that contain hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, which will add a natural dewiness to your complexion, or resveratrol, which works to defend against free radical damage and protects against signs of aging. Find out all the skincare tips dermatologists follow themselves.
They add in antioxidants
While antioxidants are helpful year-round, they are particularly important during the summer, when stronger UV rays can damage unprotected skin. “Not only can too much sun lead to direct DNA damage, but it can also break down collagen and elastin, due to UV-induced free radicals,” explains Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, Beverly Hills-based dermatologist. Free radicals, highly destructive molecules in the environment, can also wreak havoc on your skin. Apply an antioxidant serum in the morning, after cleansing your face and underneath your sunscreen, can help strengthen the skin barrier to make it less susceptible to these environmental factors. SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic ($163, skinceuticals.com) is a perennial dermatologist’s fave. Learn the 13 things your dermatologist won’t tell you.
They up their SPF game
Along with warmer weather comes longer days with more frequent, and more intense, sunshine. While every dermatologist will tell you the importance of wearing sunscreen year round, they all agree that it’s even more important during the warmer months. “Not only are you spending more time outside in general, but the UVA/UVB rays can be more intense and the damage accumulates over your lifetime,” explains Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. “Incidental sun exposure, even for only 10 to 15 minutes a day, adds up over time and can cause significant sun damage and accelerated photoaging, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles. “Using a high-SPF sunscreen—30 SPF at minimum, and 50 SPF ideally—can reduce the accumulation of chronic UV damage that’s linked to non-melanoma skin cancer and aging.” Dr. Engelman’s go-to: Elizabeth Arden City Smart Broad Spectrum SPF ($68, elizabetharden.com). “And don’t forget to reapply throughout the day!” Find out even more dermatologist-approved sunscreens.
They cut back on the retinol
The fountain-of-youth potion that promises to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, strengthen the skin barrier, and even out your skin tone is safe to use year round, but can make your skin more sun-sensitive. “This hypersensitivity has to do with the way retinol works on your skin,” explains Joel Schlessinger, MD, board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor. “Retinol boosts cell turnover, which means it eliminates dead skin cells and replaces it with new ones—and these healthy, new cells are more sensitive and prone to burning from the sun’s rays.” You can still use retinol during the spring and summer months, just try to apply at bedtime instead of in the morning. “If you do get irritated by retinol use, reduce the frequency to only one or two times a week,” suggests Dr. Shainhouse. “And be sure to wear enough sunscreen during the day and a wide-brimmed hat to reduce sun exposure on your face.” Check out the worst advice dermatologists have heard.
They use a more acidic or astringent cleanser
As the days warm up, a slightly more acidic cleanser will help to control shine and sweat more efficiently. “This is particularly true as spring days become much warmer in the afternoon than the morning,” says S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, dermatologist and CEO and founder of Miami Skin Institute. “Your cleanser should keep your skin clean and sweat-free throughout the day, which a more acidic cleanser is likely to do.” Her go-to: Neocutis Neo-Cleanse Exfoliating Skin Cleanser ($29, lovelyskin.com).
They steer clear of thick and heavy foundations
Even during the winter months, slathering heavy foundations and concealers on your face can cause buildup and potentially lead to breakouts. But this is even more likely during the spring and summer months, when heat and humidity also lead to sweat and clogged skin. “Too much product can cause build-up on the face and potentially lead to breakouts,” warns Dr. Engelman. “Switching to lighter products, like a CC cream or mineral powder foundation, will balance out the extra oil production in warmer months and leave your skin looking healthier.” (One we like is Peter Thomas Roth CC Crea, $48, peterthomasroth.com) The same goes for your makeup remover—switch in your heavy cream-based ointment for a lighter option like a micellar water. “Lightening up your makeup-removing routine not only makes you feel much more refreshed in warmer months, but it also does a better job of emulsifying sweat mixed with your makeup (yuck),” explains Dr. Jegasothy.” Her drugstore micellar water of choice: Garnier Skinactive Micellar Cleansing Water ($7, walmart.com).
They freshen up from the heat with mists
Throughout the day we collect and spread bacteria all over our face, but even more so in the summer months when sweat traps that bacteria and we’re more prone to wiping it off with unwashed hands. “I like facial mists with hypochlorous acid because it has been known to fight bacteria and help cleanse skin,” says Dr. Engelman. “As an antimicrobial and antiviral, hypochlorous acid also stimulates healing by signaling oxygenation and epithelial knitting, while working to decrease scarring.” Her go-to is LUMIONskin Oxygen Mist + HOCL ($24, lumionlife.com), but she also likes to have wipes handy to remove sweat, dirt and bacteria when mists aren’t enough.
They don’t skip out on exfoliation
While exfoliating the skin can make it temporarily thinner and potentially more prone to sunburn, it is still necessary in summer months. “Mild exfoliation, twice a week at the most, will remove dead, dull skin cells from the skin surface, leaving skin more radiant,” says Dr. Shainhouse. “Also, when dead skin cells are combined with sweat, grease and product, they can clog pores and lead to acne.” Word to the wise: Avoid products with rough pieces like shells, nuts and microbeads and instead look for products with salts and sugars or enzymatic scrubs with fruit acids, such as papaya, pumpkin or pineapple. These will be more gentle on the skin, especially when it’s more frequently exposed to stronger sun. Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($85, katesomerville.com) is a popular option.
They trade stocking caps for broad-brimmed hats
Even though it’s trendy to wear winter beanies year round, they don’t offer any protection when it comes to shielding your face from the sun. “In the winter we need fuzzy hats to keep ourselves warm, but now that spring is here, hats play an even more important role,” says Dr. Piliang. “A broad-brimmed hat provides excellent sun protection for the skin-cancer prone areas such as the face, neck, scalp and ears.” Look for a tightly woven hat that has a two-inch brim at least to provide the best protection.