Your Healthy Summer Skin Checklist
Warmer days call for tweaks to your routine — follow these six expert strategies.
Just like you swap out your snow boots for sandals and sweaters for sundresses when the temperature rises, you need to switch up your skincare regimen. Here, experts weigh in on the most important changes to make as you transition to a sunnier season.
Find an SPF product you’re willingly wear every day
In the summer, no single skincare product is more important than sunscreen (to ward off both skin cancer and premature aging). Technically, you should be wearing SPF all year round, but from June to August the UV index is at its highest — plus, you’re spending more time outdoors in less clothing. (Generally, a shot-glass-size dose will cover your body — and a quarter-size dollop is enough for your face, neck and ears.)
Not a fan of SPF? Reframe it in your mind as a non-negotiable. “You brush your teeth every day because it’s necessary for your dental health. Sunscreen is the same,” reasons Rachel Maiman, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist.
Besides, there’s now a ton of different options to pick from. “In the last few years, there have been so many innovations to sun protection, and there are elegant formulas for all different skin tones and types,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., a dermatologist in Connecticut.
Below, a few that address any reasons for resistance:
Sunscreen feels cakey.
Look for a formula with active ingredients that are so finely blended, the product is imperceptible on the skin. Try Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30 ($45) or Salt & Stone SPF 30 Sunscreen ($18).
It exacerbates my acne or rosacea.
Opt for a lightweight physical/mineral formula. Mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin, deflecting UV rays, and because they’re not absorbed, they’re less apt to irritate or clog pores. Try Babo Botanicals Daily Sheer Facial Sunscreen SPF 40 ($17) or Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Liquid Face Sunscreen SPF 50 ($13).
I don’t have time for another step in my routine.
Go for a multi-tasker laced with SPF — and other benefits — to consolidate your morning routine. Some one-and-done options: Supergoop Superscreen Daily Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 40 ($38), which hydrates, fights free radicals and shields skin from UV rays; or Coola Sun Silk Moisturizer SPF 30 ($42), which moisturizes, fights free radicals, protects against blue light and blocks UV rays. And when you do apply, be sure your skin is dry, says Dr. Maiman. “Damp skin can dilute sunscreen — or cause it to slide right off,” she says.
Carry a backup sunblock
“If you’re outdoors for more than two hours — or you swim or sweat, you really should reapply your sunscreen,” says Dr. Maiman. Putting another layer of lotion sunblock all over your face — especially if you’re wearing makeup — can be messy and impractical. So don’t do that. Instead, dust on a mineral powder sunscreen, such as Colorscience Sunforgettable Sunscreen Brush SPF 30 ($45), or spritz on an SPF mist like Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Face Mist SPF 50 ($15).
Lighten up your moisturizer
“The heat and humidity of summer means most skin is considerably less dry than it is the rest of the year,” says Dr. Maiman. Consider switching your daily moisturizer to a lighter formulation (lotion or serum, rather than cream) so your skin doesn’t get tacky — especially under a mask.
If applying both a moisturizer and a sunscreen is just too much, use a multi-tasking product that enables you to apply just one layer each morning. Try CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Face Lotion with Sunscreen SPF 30 ($15) — or one of the multi-tasking sun protection products mentioned above.
Stick to nourishing spa and in-office treatments
From June to August, getting a protective or soothing facial treatment gets the green light. And any of the Biologique Recherche Hyper Customized Facials offered at THE WELL can be tailored to nourish your skin during the summer months. What to avoid? Anything that resurfaces. “I tell my patients to save treatments like lasering or peels for the fall,” says Dr. Gohara. “That way, you’re getting more bang for your buck by helping to get rid of any sun damage you may have accrued over the summer.”
Step up exfoliation
“Summer is a great time to increase exfoliation,” says Dr. Maiman. “Your skin is naturally oilier, so you can tolerate deeper sloughing.” She recommends that oily skin be exfoliated almost daily, while normal to dry should start with two to three times a week — then slowly increase to five to seven days, as long as you’re not experiencing irritation. For oilier skin, Dr. Maiman suggests using either a physical scrub or a chemical exfoliant with salicylic acid. Try Acure Brightening Facial Scrub ($10) or La Roche Posay Effaclar Toner for Oily Skin ($25). For normal to dry, Dr. Maiman suggests an alpha-hydroxy (AHA) formula. Try Biologique P50 Lotion which contains a blend of AHA acids.
Double up on antioxidants
“Because we spend more time outdoors in the summer, I tell my patients to apply an antioxidant product twice a day, rather than just once,” says Dr. Gohara. The second application ups free-radical protection and tempers any extra environmental damage we incur during the summer. “This is especially important for my darker-skinned patients who are more apt to get hyper-pigmentation as a result of the additional UV exposure.” Try Vintner’s Daughter Active Treatment Essence ($225) — or, during the day, use sunscreen with antioxidant ingredients, such as the Coola or Supergoop options, above.
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