Skin care can sometimes feel like an exact science that’s impossible to crack. There are overwhelming mountains of oils, serums, and moisturizers stacked across every shelf — IRL and virtual — and that’s not even mentioning all the different ingredients and technical jargon thinly veiled by a promise of a slew of different results. As the seasons ebb and flow, your skin often also reacts to weather and climate changes in unexpected ways, complicated your routine even further. Before the hot, humid weather hits you like a ton of bricks, try out this dermatologist-approved summer skin-care routine. With their tips, tricks, and some of their favorite products, these dermatologists and their advice will take your summer skin to dolphin-levels of shine.
The first thing you should be aware of when facing a new season are the skin irritants that come with it — and summer has a lot of them. There’s the potential for melasma (or dark-colored, uneven patches on the skin that can be exacerbated by sun exposure), UV exposure, mosquito bites, and humidity, which can lead to increased breakouts. But, you don’t have to take all of that sitting down.
During the summer, your skin generally produces more oil, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it might mean that you can simplify your skin-care routine a bit. If you have drier skin, Dr. Samatha Ellis, a board-certified dermatologist, recommends forgoing cleansing in the mornings, since that can lead to unnecessary irritation and tightness. But, for those whose skin airs on the oily side, Dr. Naissan O. Wesley, a surgical dermatologist based in L.A., tells Elite Daily that after cleansing, either a light oil, serum, or moisturizer, like Arbonne’s Bio-Hydria Serum ($32, Arbonne), is all you need.
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According to all three dermatologists I spoke to, the most important step of a summer skin-care routine is, unsurprisingly, sunscreen. After applying all your lighter, thinner products, it’s imperative you finish your skin-care routine with some sun protection. Dr. Janiene Luke, an expert in medical and cosmetic dermatology, says your sunscreen should have an SPF of 30 or higher and should be reapplied every two hours for maximum defense against sun damage. One of her favorite UV protectors is CeraVe’s Facial Moisturizer ($19, Ulta Beauty).
One unexpected must-have summer skin-care ingredient is vitamin C. “Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, as well as other environmental insults,” Dr. Luke says. “The way antioxidants work is they help reduce the free radicals that are produced when we are exposed to UV light and pollution.” Free radicals refer to things that can breakdown your skin’s DNA and affect the collagen in your skin. You can find vitamin C in myriad post-cleanser products, but Dr. Ellis suggests Maelove’s Glow Maker serum ($28, Maelove).
If you’ve been living and breathing on this Earth for the last couple years, you’ve probably heard about retinol, the true skin-care darling. It’s heralded for its acne-busting, anti-aging, texture-transforming powers, but it can be a bit harsh on your skin. Not to mention, it could make your skin a little more susceptible to sun damage. That’s why Dr. Luke recommends you save it for nighttime use or only using it a few times a week. She likes the Ordinary’s Retinoid ($10, the Ordinary) for this treatment.
As for the rest of your nightly routine, it’s a great time to give your skin a little extra TLC that it can soak up over night — in the summer and beyond. Extra treatments like products that target hyper-specific concerns, exfoliation, and masks are great to do before bed, according to Dr. Wesley. For those struggling with blackheads or acne, Dr. Ellis recommends a gentle exfoliate like Paula’s Choice Liquid Exfoliant ($30, Paula’s Choice) a few times a week, especially if you find retinol to be too harsh on your skin.