So it’s here. Summer has arrived and I am again caught off guard by the weather shift. I’m not sure why because you think I’d be used to living in a desert climate after a decade. Maybe I just can’t let go of waking up to rainy days as a kid, but it’s getting hot. Like over 100F/37C type of hot. I adjust a ton of things in my life to work around this, and skincare is no exception.
A lot of us are probably looking to update our summer skincare. The conditions change and we need to shift with them, even if we hate the heat. However, I feel it’s important to not drastically overhaul everything for the season. In fact, maintaining my routine and making small adjustments for climates and seasons has benefitted me much more than when I used to revamp my entire routine a couple of times a year.
3 Potential Summer Skincare Upgrades
1. Step Up Your Cleansing
As an oily skinned person, warmer weather means a serious uptick in oil production. It’s not something I can blot or powder away—it’s just part of life at this point. Personally, any mattifying primers, sunscreens, or foundations make things even more oily. It’s like my skin can sense I’m trying to fight the oil and pumps out even more. I used to completely change all of my skincare to lighter, more watery textures, but I find that my skin does just as well with an updated cleansing routine.
The increased layers of sunscreen and extra oil on my face definitely call for more thorough cleansing. Whether it’s increasing my frequency of double cleansing or switching over to a foaming cleanser, or both, my skin seems to be happy with the extra effort. I’m not saying you should strip your skin—regardless of the season, that’s never a good idea. Keeping cleansing gentle is always a key principle. I just find that with a more thorough cleanse, my skin stays happy with certain products throughout the entire year.
2. Increase Hydration
Drinking more water during hotter months is pretty sensible, especially when you’re out and about. No one feels good when they’re dehydrated. Chances are your skin could use the extra dose of hydration too. Factors like the air conditioning you go in and out of or fans blowing on you in the car can really dehydrate your skin. If you don’t have a dedicated hydrating product in the form of a serum or toner, this may be the season to try one out. The extra dose of hydration will keep you looking dewy (not oily) and help your skin feel more comfortable.
If you’ve already got some hydrators you like, adding an extra layer of toner or pump of serum could be the trick. Some of my drier skinned friends make spring and summer the time when they carry a face mist in their bag. Some days you may need more hydration than others, depending on your plans. The extra shot of hydration on-the-go means you can hydrate as your skin needs it throughout whatever conditions you’re in that day.
3. Sunscreen, Sunscreen, and More Sunscreen
Now I know y’all are wearing sunscreen all year (it’s not a summer only thing), but this is not the season to slack on your sun protection. UV indexes are up, time spent outdoors is also likely increasing and so should your stock of sunscreen. I love the smaller bottles of Asian sunscreens that fit easily into a bag or purse and have favored them in general for their cosmetic elegance. It’s almost a cliche at this point, but it’s true; the best sunscreen is the one you will regularly use.
Reapplication is also not something I super stress about during the colder months, but that is not the case during the summer. On the last trip I took in 2019 to an amusement park, I was super on top of reapplying my sunscreen every two hours. I also did not get any sunburn, redness, or irritation. You can bet that I won’t ever deviate from my reapplication schedule during extended periods of time outside. This is especially important if you use actives like AHAs or retinoids in your routine.
2 Summer Skincare Updates to Approach With Caution
On the flip side, there are some things that I see people try to update in their skincare routine in the middle of the summer season that make me a little nervous. I’m not saying any of these things are impossible, but there are a few skincare switch-ups I would consider hitting pause on until it cools off.
4. Retinoid Upgrades
Summer isn’t the ideal time to increase your retinoid strength or try a new form of retinoid. I’m sure many of us have gone through the sensitization and peeling that retinoids can bring. Imagine going through that in the heat. Discomfort aside, retinoids do increase your sensitivity in the sun. I’d advise that you stick with what you’ve got and reevaluate your retinoid situation in the cooler months.
5. Scaling Back on AHAs
This is a bit of a tricky one. Some people get into an extremely cautious mindset and throw out their AHA’s and retinoids when summer hits. I feel it’s totally possible to keep a consistent exfoliating routine throughout the summer. However, if you’re going to be traveling a ton and/or outdoors very often, it may be reasonable to swap out exfoliants. Sure, diligent sunscreen application should have you covered, but none of us are perfect. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in new and/or sunny environments, swapping out your AHA for a BHA could be something to consider as it doesn’t spike your sun sensitivity like AHAs do.
What summer skincare updates do you do every year? Let’s talk about it in the comments!