How to Improve Your Summer Skin Care Routine (and Why)

Summer is right around the corner, promising long days of sunshine and blue skies. But while summer weather is great for walks in the park and weekends at the pool, it also brings fresh challenges for your skin. Thanks to higher temperatures, harsher UV rays, and greater humidity, the skin has a lot to cope with when the seasons change. Luckily, a few strategic changes to your summer skin care routine can keep your skin healthy and radiant over the coming months.

Why a Summer Skin Care Routine Is Important

Our skin is very sensitive to environmental changes, even at the cellular level. In the winter, swift drops in temperature and humidity stress the skin, damaging the skin barrier and leading to irritation. Many of us turn to heavy moisturizers to combat the dryness. However, what may be the perfect skin care routine in the winter is not ideal for the summer months, when sweat glands become more active.

Overusing heavy products in the summer can exacerbate clogged pores and prevent the skin from breathing. Worse, winter routines often de-emphasize SPF use. Carrying a routine like this into the summer can cause severe and lasting skin damage as UV exposure increases.

An ideal summer skin care routine accounts for the effects of sunlight and humidity, supporting your skin through natural seasonal changes.

How the Sun Affects Your Skin

The sun emits energy in the form of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Two types of UV rays penetrate Earth’s atmosphere: 

  • UVA rays are between 320 to 400 nm in length and are known to cause premature skin aging.
  • UVB rays are smaller at 280 to 320 nm, meaning they can more easily penetrate skin cells. These rays, to which we receive greater exposure in the summer, are more likely than UVA rays to cause skin cancer.

Both UVA and UVB rays can cause serious harm to the skin, inducing wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and even cancer. UV exposure occurs all year, so realistically, you should wear SPF daily. However, this becomes even more important in the summer when UVB rays are stronger, and you are likely to spend more time outdoors.

How Humidity Affects Your Skin

It is easy to underestimate the effect of humidity on your skin. After all, isn’t moisture good for the skin? However, excess humidity is not necessarily a good thing. When it gets hot and humid, we sweat more to stay cool. This is an important process for regulating body temperature, but it comes with consequences for the skin—such as clogged pores, breakouts, and even rashes. Cleansing and exfoliation are critical to preventing these outcomes.

What to Include in Your Summer Skin Care Routine

Crafting a new summer skin care routine may seem daunting, especially if you’re already dealing with breakouts or burns. Fortunately, with just a few simple shifts, you’ll be able to keep your skin happy all season long.

1) Never Skip SPF

If you change only one thing about your summer skin care routine, let it be this: Wear a product with at least 30 SPF every single day. Yes, even when it’s cloudy or cool, and even when you’re wearing other makeup. Reapply every few hours, especially if you’ve been active or been in the water. For best results, look for a lightweight, daily-use formula like iS CLINICAL’s Eclipse 50+. This cream provides broad-spectrum protection with no white cast, so it looks great with makeup or without.

iS CLINICAL Eclipse SPF 50+ on a sandy background.

2) Lighten Up Your Products

Just as you shed layers for summer, you can also shed a bit of weight from your summer skin care routine. This means opting for lighter formulas when possible—think foaming cleansers rather than thick creams and light tonics rather than heavy moisturizers.

In fact, if you’re using a daily moisturizing SPF (as you should be), you may be able to skip the moisturizer altogether. Using multipurpose products can help you pare down your routine without sacrificing results. The same applies to your makeup. Instead of caking on layers you’ll probably sweat off anyway, look for lighter, noncomedogenic products that won’t clog the pores. You’ll not only feel more comfortable but also be less likely to experience breakouts.

3) Seek Out Some C

Vitamin C is a popular active ingredient known for brightening the skin and soothing irritation, and its effects are especially useful in the summer. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps neutralize free radicals, which can otherwise damage the skin. It also helps inhibit melanin production, reducing the likelihood of hyperpigmentation. Together, these benefits make vitamin C an excellent antidote to summer skin woes.

Just be sure you combine it with an SPF since inhibiting melanin lowers your natural defenses against UV rays.

4) Perform Extra Exfoliation

Exfoliation serves as a key line of defense against clogged pores. Luckily, our skin is typically more resilient to exfoliation in the summer when humidity is higher. Consider adding a chemical exfoliant to your evening routine, such as an alpha or beta hydroxy acid (AHA or BHA, respectively). Just be sure to follow up with SPF in the morning, as many common exfoliants also increase sun sensitivity.

5) Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Hydration should be the foundation of any good summer skin care routine. Dehydration pulls water out of the skin cells, exacerbating dryness and irritation. This is especially common in the summer months, when both temperatures and activity levels tend to rise.

If you aren’t drinking enough water, you’re likely sabotaging your skin care routine before putting on a single product. Drinking water whenever you feel thirsty throughout the day protects your skin and all your other organs. When it’s especially hot, you may need as many as three cups of water per hour, so listen to your body. 

Curly-haired woman laughing while holding a bottle of water in the summer.

What a Good Skin Care Routine Looks Like for Summer

So, what should your summer skin care routine actually look like? 

It may vary depending on your unique skin type and concerns. However, most people benefit from a minimalist approach like the one below.

  • In the morning, cleanse with a lightweight, hydrating cleanser, then apply SPF. 
  • If you choose to wear makeup, it should go on after the SPF dries. 
  • In the evening, cleanse and exfoliate, then follow up with a moisturizing serum, if desired. 
  • If you’d like, you may add a separate vitamin C product in the morning or evening or look for a multi-benefit product that already contains the antioxidant.

Protect Your Skin This Summer

Summer weather may be good for the soul, but it’s not always great for the skin. Fortunately, a few simple changes to your summer skin care routine can keep your skin healthy in the face of harsh weather. So, use the tips above to improve your daily regimen!

If you’re looking for high-quality summer skincare solutions, stop by Ethos MedSpa and browse our selection of iS CLINICAL products. These premium formulations are lightweight, sweat resistant, and highly nourishing for stressed-out skin. Eclipse SPF 50+, in particular, is the ideal daily SPF, blending multiple sunscreens with moisturizing vitamin E for an all-in-one solution. 

Whatever your needs, our team will help you select the optimal products for your skin type and lifestyle. Visit Ethos MedSpa today!

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