After those long, cold winter days, there’s something refreshing (and exciting!) about the first glimpses of spring. Flowers are blooming, birds returning to their nests, warmer temperatures and fresh air all invite us into a new season. As the weather transforms, so should your skincare routine to prep those pores for sunshine. Due to winter’s harsh and low-humidity conditions, many people suffer from dry, flaky skin and a dull complexion, says Dr. Papri Sarkar, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist. This means you may need to swap out your products and give your winter skin a little TLC before it hits the sun. Here, a guide from skincare experts on how to prep your skin:
Set up your sunscreen game
Dr. Sarkar says an old wive’s tale is that a tan is the best base for your skin. However, the opposite is true: you need sun protection year-round, but particularly in the summer. That’s why Dr. Sarkar suggests stepping up your sunscreen game early because the ultraviolet rays’ strength starts to jump up in the early spring. “That’s the time that a lot of people notice that their melasma or pigmentation problems are returning because the sun is making its comeback,” she shares. “So slather on that sunscreen and protect your skin.”
Switch up your face cleanser
With warm weather and moisture in the air, your skin may need a little more cleaning power than the gentle, creamy, moisturizing face wash you might have been using all winter, says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD. As you head into the months where sunscreen, sweat and even dirt may clog up your pores, she says a clay-based wash will clean your face but not leave it dry or stripped of its natural oils.
Use a cream to shed dead skin cells
Unfortunately, the conditions of winter tend to leave our skin flaky because it’s drier than usual. And this isn’t only an issue on our face, but all over our body. Those dead skin cells don’t exactly look cute in shorts, flip-flops or short-sleeved tops, but you want to be mindful about removing them. Dr. Sarkar suggests a treatment that’s formulated with glycolic acid, salicylic acid, urea or ammonium lactate. These will gently scrub away winter to reveal bright skin underneath.
Prioritize a hydrating moisturizer
Board-certified nurse practitioner and aesthetic specialist Vanessa Coppola, FNP-BC, says that while the winter months call for an emollient-based moisturizer that will form a protective barrier and help to lock in moisture, that’s not what our pores crave in the summer. Instead, she says choosing a lighter, more hydrating option would be a better choice. “Look for gel or lotion-based products that are water-based and oil-free, but will still help to replenish and repair the stratum corneum,” she continues.
Give your whole body a scrub
Though most people develop a skincare routine for their face, many forget about their bodies. Skin is everywhere, and it all needs your attention and care. That’s why leading up to the summer months, a full-body scrub is super beneficial, according to Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, the assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale New Haven Hospital and the president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology. To begin, she says to adopt a dry brushing routine to exfoliate and stimulate blood flow before hopping in the shower. Once you’re under the water, she suggests a gentle physical exfoliant with gloves to polish your skin and prepare for the waxing and shaving season.
Don’t exfoliate daily, though, since Coppola says the rule of thumb here is moderation. Choose a good exfoliant and start slowly. “Often starting a chemical exfoliant such as a lactic acid or glycolic acid serum, or those containing fruit enzymes can start in the evening hours and slowly work into your daytime routine as tolerated,” she explains. “AHAs and BHAs are wonderful protective powerhouses that, in addition to helping increase cellular turnover, which helps to improve the quality and clarity of the skin, also have antioxidant properties that help protect against summertime damage and free radicals.”
Add a vitamin C serum into your routine
The summer season is definitely the time that you want to work a brightening agent into your skincare regimen, and this is where vitamin C serums really shine, Coppola says. “You can increase the brightening power of Vitamin C by looking for a brightening serum that also contains vitamin B and vitamin E, which can also help to lighten dark spots triggered by UV rays,” she shares. “Scientifically, in clinical studies, vitamin C has shown to play a vital role in photoprotection, skin-strengthening, and the removal of hyperpigmented spots. It is a very powerful antioxidant.”
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