9 Smart Skin Habits Dermatologists Start Every Spring
Update your skin-care routine to start the spring season glowing and rejuvenated.
They spring clean their cosmetics
When in doubt, toss it out. There are no FDA regulations for skin-care product expiration dates, but it is important to be vigilant about swapping out products regularly (because they do have a shelf life). “Go through your cosmetics, products, and sunscreens, and toss the things that have been around a little too long,” says Whitney Bowe, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Remember this rule of thumb: Anything you apply near the lips or eyes should be tossed after a year. Also, throw your dingy makeup bag in the washer. If it can’t be laundered, clean with antibacterial cleanser.
They exfoliate more
“Just like you clean up your winter wardrobe, clean up your winter skin,” says Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City and clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Bring out its brightness by exfoliating a little more in the spring.” In the winter, when your skin is drier and more sensitive (thanks, whipping winter winds and dry indoor heat), it’s best to exfoliate just once a week. But in the spring, exfoliation removes old layers of skin and helps topical treatments absorb into the skin better. Most skin types can increase exfoliation to twice a week. If you notice dryness, redness, or sensitivity, decrease how often you exfoliate or ask your dermatologist which exfoliation method might work best for you.
They trade in cream for lotion
Moisturizer is crucial to any skin-care routine, but using heavy creams in the spring can actually cause annoying breakouts. “In the spring, I switch from very heavy, hydrating moisturizer and oil-based products to lighter formulations, like a hydrating serum,” says Dr. Bowe. Heavy creams have lipids that stick to the skin and repair your dry winter skin barrier. When that skin barrier is already healthy, however, the extra lipids to the skin can cause clogged pores and pimples. Look for serum, lotions, or hydrating gels rather than creams.
They swap cleansers
As you bid farewell to cold weather, introduce stronger cleansers into your skin routine. “During the winter, I tend to use creamy or hydrating cleansers, but I switch to a normal cleanser in the spring,” says Dr. Bowe. “Like heavy moisturizer, creamy cleansers leave a residue of fats and lips on the skin. That’s good in the winter because you have a compromised skin barrier, but you don’t need it in the spring.” Keep the three categories of cleansers in mind: creamy, foaming, and normal (non-soap, pH-balanced cleanser). Opt for normal cleanser once the weather warms up, unless your skin is especially oily, in which case a foaming cleanser can help remove extra oils.
They stay ahead of their allergies
Suddenly have puffy bags under your eyes? You didn’t age overnight. “When people have allergies to pollen or any other environmental allergen, it can create redness and inflammation underneath the eye,” says Dr. Bowe. “When that happens, it makes under-eye bags larger and wrinkles around the eye more pronounced.” It can also cause stinging or burning around the eyes. Talk to a dermatologist about prescription ingredients that can heal the skin and calm down the inflammation. If you’re prone to allergies, your doctor may recommend preventative practices. Taking an over-the-counter, non-sedating antihistamine each morning, for example, could help avoid flare-ups. Or try one of these tips for natural allergy relief.
They use sunflower seed oil to soothe eczema
Up to 10 percent of adults have eczema, an inflammation of the skin that results in scaly red patches. The condition may be more prevalent in the spring. “People tend to flare up if they have eczema, especially if they’re outside,” says Dr. Bowe. “Sunflower seed oil is an amazing remedy for that.” For a mild flare-up, apply sunflower seed oil before bed. If skin continues to be red or irritated, apply a thin coat every night after showering. The oil is an anti-inflammatory and helps stimulate the body’s natural production of ceramides, fats that help bolster the skin barrier. Also consider these other natural remedies for eczema.
They go to a pro for a peel
For deeper renewal of the skin, see a dermatologist for a seasonal chemical peel. In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the skin, eventually causing the outer layer to peel off. The new layer of skin underneath is typically smoother and less wrinkled. “Spring is a time when you want to remove dead skin cells so you can have rejuvenated skin at the surface,” says Binh Ngo, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Keck Medicine of USC. “Chemical peels can also combine different brightening agents that lighten brown spots and age spots.” Talk to your dermatologist to see what type of peel is best for your skin type.
They are even more vigilant about sunscreen
Most dermatologists apply sunscreen every morning, all year long. However, in the springtime, it’s especially important to be vigilant about protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. “When spring arrives, we all have cabin fever and spend more time outside than we did in the winter,” says Dr. Day. “The most important thing is to make sure you use sunscreen, even if it’s cloudy.” Apply every morning, and reapply every two hours. If you get wet, apply every hour. Use makeup that has SPF protection? It may not be enough. “A lot of makeup foundation has SPF 15 in it, which is not very efficient,” says Dr. Ngo. “I would recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.” If you’re taking a spring break vacation, make sure you lather up with sunscreen when you’re on the beach or even if you’re just sitting next to a window—say, in a car during a road trip.
They go hat shopping
A fun way to protect your skin: Hit the mall. “Try to find some nice, fun hats,” says Dr. Day. “Get in the habit of wearing one outside. I also like finding fashionable sun protective clothing.” Look for a broad-rimmed hat, which protects the face and scalp from sun damage better than, say, a baseball cap. If you know you’ll be exercising outside and sweating, look for UV-protected clothing. Sun protection on clothing is measured by UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor)—the higher, the better. A fabric with UPF of 50 will allow only 1/50, or 2 percent, of the sun’s UV rays to pass through. To compare, a white T-shirt has an average UPF of 7.