Dermatologists and aestheticians live under the same intense summer sun as we do, but somehow they manage to escape any signs of sun damage and breakouts during the entire season. Even the pros need to tweak their routines and take a different approach to skincare during those summer months. “With increased heat and humidity, the body produces more sweat, contributing to increased oil formation,” says Dr. Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist. In addition, with more time spent outdoors during the summer, it’s imperative to be aware of the skin challenges that come with the season, which can make the skin prone to burning, hyperpigmentation, and breakouts, says a facialist and facial massage expert, Yoliglo.
Ahead, we asked dermatologists and skincare pros for their best-kept summer skincare tips. Of course, step one is to load up on sunscreen, and without further ado, we’ll begin with that.
Meet the Experts
Dr. Dendy Engelman a board-certified dermatologist
Dr. Brendan Camp a board-certified dermatologist
Yoliglo facialist and facial massage expert
Load up on sunscreen.
Daily use of sunscreen is non-negotiable, and during the summer, it’s imperative to wear plenty of it, head to toe. “Sunnier weather can put the skin at greater risk of sun damage and exacerbate skin conditions worsened by ultraviolet radiation,” says Dr. Camp. “It’s best to increase the amount of SPF in your daily moisturizer, too” — especially if you’re particularly prone to summer skin issues like breakouts or hyperpigmentation. Breathable sunscreen formulas, like Sunday Riley Light Hearted Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen, are safe since they won’t clog the skin and can be layered under makeup.
Swap out your foundation.
Speaking of makeup, excess oil production is one of the most significant issues the skin faces during the summer. To minimize heavy layers of makeup on your face that could clog pores, Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist, recommends multitasking your routine by swapping foundation for a lightweight tinted sunscreen. “This will help protect the skin from sun damage while minimizing pore clogging and acne breakouts,” she says.
Pair sunscreen with vitamin C.
Vitamin C isn’t a replacement for your SPF. Still, applying an antioxidant-rich serum, like Sunday Riley 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum, underneath sunscreen adds an extra layer of protection against free radical damage. “This step provides additional protection and works as a barrier to prevent the sunscreen from clogging the pores and causing breakouts,” says Dr. Engelman. Plus, your sunscreen also prevents your vitamin C from oxidizing, making your skincare more effective.
Get crafty with sun protection.
In addition to using Light Hearted as your base, if you’re wearing makeup, it may feel tricky to reapply every two hours, as recommended by Vance Soto, the owner of the OleHenriksen Face/Body Spa. Look for invisible sunscreen sprays and mists that you don’t have to rub in, keeping your makeup intact.
Keep using moisturizer.
You might be thinking if you need a moisturizer in the middle of summer when your skin might feel oily and already, well, moist from sweat. However, the harsh summer temperatures and sun exposure make skin thirsty. “The environment draws moisture out of the skin barrier, so if you’re spending a lot of time in dry or hot environments, you’ll need to supplement your skin’s hydration,” says Dr. Engelman. Of course, drinking plenty of water is always a good starting point, but you’ll also need to load up on moisturizers with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalene, and ceramides.
Hyaluronic acid makes for a great summer (and year-round) hydrator. “It’s like a big glass of hydrating water for the skin,” says Soto, who recommends storing your hyaluronic acid-based products in the fridge for instant cooling relief on hot summer days. The natural humectant binds to water in the skin for a light layer of moisture with a natural plumping effect.
Ceramides, a key ingredient in Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream, are also beneficial. They protect the skin’s natural barrier, which can become compromised due to sun and environmental exposure.
Don’t skip the retinol.
“Retinoids can increase photosensitivity, so limit use when on a particularly sunny vacation,” says Dr. Camp. Though for some people, retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, it doesn’t mean you need to forgo the potent and glow-inducing vitamin A derivative. Use it in tandem with sunscreen during the day, and for extra precaution, reserve your retinol for your p.m. routine with Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil.
Get rid of excess oil.
“With increased heat and humidity, the body produces more sweat, contributing to increased oil formation,” says Dr. Brendan Camp, a board-certified dermatologist. “Sebum is essential for protecting the skin from drying environmental triggers, but too much of it will leave excess oil on the skin,” says Dr. Engelman. Climate also dictates how your skin will behave, too — the drier heat, the less oily you may be, but the thirstier the skin becomes. When there’s a lot of humidity in the air, Soto says sebum levels increase, which for some people, leads to oily skin and even blemishes and breakouts.
To combat oiliness during the summer, you’ll want to regularly apply oil-absorbing clay masks to the skin. “They can help clean out pores that become clogged due to increased oil formation,” Dr. Camp explains. In addition to oil-controlling masks, he says some moisturizers also offer a mattifying effect by absorbing oil molecules from the skin.
Transition to new products slowly.
As with any skincare routine, consistency is critical to keep the skin happy, healthy, and under control regardless of the weather. “Swapping out products too frequently, like daily or weekly, can lead to inflammation or acne flares,” says Dr. Camp.
Make sure to double cleanse.
You’ll want to cleanse the skin thoroughly at the end of every day to remove all the products applied to the skin earlier and throughout the day. Instead of washing more often, which can dry out the skin, wash smarter. One of the best ways to fully erase the lingering effects of sunscreen, oil, and anything else on the skin is the double cleanse (a two-step cleansing technique consisting of an oil or balm cleanser, like Sunday Riley Blue Moon Clean Rinse Cleansing Balm, followed by a regular cleanser). Foaming cleansers are a great option to follow up your cleansing balm as they work well to gently yet effectively loosen and release the grime, dirt, and oil from the day without stripping the skin.
If you’re breakout-prone, Soto says to be considerate of what you’re putting in your body and what you’re putting on your skin. “If you can, limit dairy intake if you’re having a pimple battle because, for some people, there is a direct correlation to dairy intake and blemishes,” says Yoliglo.
Exfoliation is also key to preventing the pores from getting bogged down with dirt, oil, dead skin, and potential product buildup. Dr. Engelman prefers gentle chemical exfoliators and calls them “a great way to remove this deb is without compromising the skin barrier instead of scrubbing on physical exfoliants, which can cause micro-tears in the skin that can get infected.”
Plan treatments accordingly.
Regular facials are always fair game, and the right aesthetician will cater your facial to your needs and lifestyle. But when it comes to pigment-reducing treatments, talk to your dermatologist about the best time of year to get a treatment done, as some people can be more prone to hyperpigmentation in the summer. Generally, “anything that can affect the melanin pigment in the skin should be avoided in the summer months. So, no IPL (Intense Pulsed Light therapy), laser hair removal, tattoo removal, fractionated CO2 treatments, or resurfacing lasers,” says Dr. Engelman. Treatments that address skin texture and tighten the skin, like radiofrequency devices, are okay to do year-round since they don’t focus on pigment or use laser or heat. “Treatments like NuEra Tight, which tightens the skin on the face and body and helps reduce the appearance of cellulite, are safe to perform during the summer,” adds Dr. Engelman.
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