Ah, summertime. The days get longer, your wardrobe gets lighter (hello, swimsuit season!) and your weekend plans get busier.
But there's another part of daily life that's in for a big change: your skin.
Where cold, dry winter air was previously a daily burden, warmer temps can leave your skin contending with increased sweat and exposure to the sun's damaging rays. That’s why, with the start of the season just around the corner, now's the perfect time to implement some strategic changes to your daily skincare regimen.
Not sure where to start? Take some tips from these experts for radiant (and well-protected) summer skin.
Adjust your sunscreen usage—early and often
The sun's rays are more intense in the summer compared to the winter months, so you want to be extra vigilant about sunscreen, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. This means you should be vigilant about safeguarding your skin each morning—your face and your body—by applying sunscreen with at least an SPF 30.
Remember: UVA/UVB rays not only damage and age the skin, but exposure to them also puts you at risk for developing certain skin cancers. So if you're planning to spend time outdoors, be sure to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and always right after swimming.
Want to avoid that hot-and-sticky feeling that some sunscreens can leave behind? Look for sheer, breathable formulations, such as Neutrogena® Ultra Sheer® Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 70.
“Rather than trapping sweat on the skin, which can lead to overheating, the latest generation of sunscreen technology allows sweat to evaporate from the skin, much like a breathable athletic fabric,” explains Dr. Zeichner.
Consider switching up your face wash
During the warmer months, “we typically make more sweat and oil, which can accumulate on the skin and trap dirt,” Dr. Zeichner explains, adding that while a hydrating cleanser can do a great job in the winter, it may not be strong enough to remove the higher levels of oil during the summer.
So he suggests changing from a creamy to a gel cleanser, such as Aveeno® Ultra-Calming® Hydrating Gel Cleanser. “The newest generation of cleansers are formulated with a hydrating gel base, but they are also designed to maximize removal of dirt, while minimizing irritation of the skin,” he says.
Power up with antioxidants
Summer is the season to stock up on serums, moisturizers and sunscreens that have the added punch of antioxidants—such as vitamin C and certain natural extracts—that can help protect your skin against environmental damage.
“Antioxidants act like Pac-Man in that they work to neutralize inflammation in the skin by ‘eating’ the free radicals that can cause inflammation,” explains, Business Development Manager, NeoStrata. In doing so, antioxidants can not only help repair past damage, but they can also help your skin combat whatever is coming its way next.
Arsenault suggests adding Exuviance® Vitamin C20 Serum Capsules to your nighttime routine. Each capsule contains a potent dose of vitamin C, which can help defuse environmental damage and slow the signs of aging.
During the day, consider smoothing on a layer of Aveeno® Absolutely Ageless® Pre-Tox Leave-on Day Mask Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30 under your makeup. It contains vitamins, as well as such antioxidant-rich ingredients as green tea, moringa seed and blackberry extract to help fight the effects of pollution.
Pare back how often you exfoliate
Given that you may be washing your face more frequently in the summer—all that sweat and swimming!—you may not need to exfoliate as often as you do in the wintertime. “I recommend exfoliating only once or twice per week,” Dr. Zeichner says.
To help remove the surface layer of built-up dead skin cells, an exfoliator that contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or polyhydroxy acids (PHAs)—such as NeoStrata® Skin Active Exfoliating Wash, which has PHAs—can gently but effectively whisk away the dead cells without overdrying or stripping the skin, says Arsenault.
Lighten up your moisturizer
The increased heat, humidity and sweat that comes with the sunny season means you just don’t need (or want) a heavy moisturizer this time of year. Luckily, the latest generation of moisturizers, like Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Water Gel, delivers hydration without weighing the skin down, says Dr. Zeichner. The secret: hyaluronic acid, which draws moisture from the air and delivers it to your skin.
Pick a retinol with moisturizing punch
Retinol can be a powerful anti-ager, says Dr. Zeichner, because it helps stimulate collagen production, which can help strengthen the skin’s foundation and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Since retinol can be associated with skin irritation when combined with sun exposure, opt for a product like RoC® Retinol Correxion® Max Daily Hydration Crème, which contains moisturizing ingredients to help counterbalance any irritation.
Zap oil and shine
Whether your skin is naturally dry or oily, summertime’s warm, humid weather can make almost all skin types look shiny, says Dr. Zeichner, since natural skin oil accumulates on the surface of the skin.
Since it’s not always practical to wash your face midday, especially if you’re wearing makeup, using blotting papers, like Clean & Clear® Oil Absorbing Sheets, is a speedy and effective way to absorb and remove oil.
Take aim at dark spots
This is the time of year that dark spots can go from barely noticeable to front and center because ultraviolet light causes the overproduction of melanin pigment in the skin.
To help diminish dark spots (and keep new ones at bay), look for a skin-brightening product that contains licorice extract or vitamin C, such as NeoStrata® Enlighten Illuminating Serum. These ingredients, explains Arsenault, can help inhibit excess melanin production, reduce skin inflammation and leave skin more radiant.
Opt for a different foundation
Heavier foundations can weigh your skin down in the warmer months, so if you typically use a stick or cream formula in the cooler months, opt instead for a lightweight liquid this time of year, such as Neutrogena Healthy Skin® Liquid Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 20.
And if acne is a problem, look for a foundation that contains salicylic acid, such as Neutrogena SkinClearing® Liquid Makeup, which helps keep pores open and prevent breakouts while you use it, says Dr. Zeichner.
You may also want to consider having two shades on hand in the summer—your normal shade and one that's slightly deeper—to help adjust for any areas that get a bit darker with sun exposure.
Don’t forget your lips
Like the rest of your face, your lips need a little TLC come summer, too.
The skin on the lips is extremely sensitive, Dr. Zeichner explains, thanks to a lower number of oil glands and less protective pigment than the rest of the face, which leaves them prone to dryness and irritation. “They also often go unprotected from the sun, increasing the likelihood of developing skin cancers on the lip—particularly the lower lip, which faces up toward the sun every day,” he adds.
A simple solution: Slather on some daily protection, like Neutrogena® Norwegian Formula® Lip Moisturizer with Sunscreen SPF 15, which hydrates while protecting against UV rays.