It’s taken me well into my adult years to realize a few things that should be common sense. Most recently, I’ve come to understand that much like my wardrobe changes every season, so too should my makeup and skin routine. Think about it: You would never walk around in a bikini in the dead of winter—so why should your face be doing the equivalent?
As the temps rise, your skin changes. It starts to work much harder to protect you while regulating your body temperature, protecting you from oxidative stress and sunburns, and all the while releasing lots of sweat. It’s important to be mindful of these changes and modify how we take care of our skin during the sweaty summer months.
Last winter I sat down with skin expert and esthetician extraordinaire, Hayley Roy, owner of the Therapeutic Skin Coach blog, to talk winter skin tips and tricks. Six months later I’m excited to be sharing her wisdom on summer skin. She covers the good, the bad, and the badass. Here’s what I learned:
Hayley says to think of every season as an opportunity to reset. Your body is going to purge toxins you’ve been holding onto, so you might as well help the process along.
While “detox” can sound a little extreme, there are lots of gentle ways to go about it. And it’s a necessary step in transitioning your skin into summer. The detoxification process starts from the inside out. A gentle, tried and true way to do this is by starting each morning with a cup of warm lemon water. “This will help alkaline your gut and rebalance your outer pH level,” says Hayley, which will gently work to help eliminate what is no longer needed. Take it up a notch by integrating chilled teas with lemongrass, ginger, dandelion root, and/or milk thistle. Your skin will quickly start to feel fresh and cleared of any lingering toxins.
She also suggests avoiding harsh cleansers during this time of year. Naturally, you may turn to these first, thinking you’re doing what’s best for your sweat-clogged pores. But actually, a gentle cream cleanser—such as Pai’s Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser or Odacite’s Gentle Rejuvenating Cleanser—with cool water is the best way to face the day. This gentle approach will allow your skin to detoxify more naturally without stressing it out.
To aid the detox and keep your body happy in the sauna-like temps, Hayley says the second secret to summer skin is to hydrate.
Just like you get thirsty, so too does your skin. In fact, in the summer months, you are more than likely waking up already slightly dehydrated before the day has even started. This is because your skin simply sweats more in the summer, releasing toxins overnight. So it’s important to replenish and hydrate your bod first thing in the morning. Hayley says to drink at least 16 ounces of water right when you wake up, before you do anything else.
Once you’ve guzzled a few glasses, wash your face with a refreshing toner. And basically keep repeating those steps all day. Literally. Drink water all day long. And throw some toner in your bag, desk drawer, glove compartment—anywhere you can—and swipe it on a few times a day to maintain moisture and reduce heat. Some of my favorites are Eco Organic Inventives Elemental Mineral Mist and Benshen Rose and Aloe Hydrosol.
In addition to good ol' H20, snacking on water-rich foods, like melons, strawberries, cucumbers, and carrots are also great for the skin. Bonus tip: Drinking carrot juice or eating a few servings will give you a natural, sun-kissed glow.
And finally, the crown jewel of summer skin maintenance: antioxidants.
We all know how important sunscreen is. Your mom told you to wear it. Her mom told her. And the Internet beats you over the head with it. But what you may not know is that antioxidants are just as important to your skin as a physical sunblock SPF, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Antioxidants help restore your skin cells from excess damage and can help restore any oxidative stress. This can be especially critical if you’ve already broken the cardinal skin rules and toasted a little too long in the sun.
Before heading out: Start with a clean, bare face and first apply a nice layer of sunscreen—ideally SPF 30 or higher. Take your time blending it in really well. Thin layers are key to avoid build-up.
After-sun care: After a day out-and-about in the sun, there are two things you should do. First, make yourself an antioxidant-rich meal. The best options are anything berry-rich with spinach or kale and a coconut water smoothie. Second, apply a topical serum. Some great topical options include Earth Tu Face's Chamomile and Carrot Seed face serum, Laurel’s Antioxidant Facial Serum, and Kypris’ Antioxidant Dew. All of these have lots of vitamins that protect from the sun so they increase your SPF while creating a summer-worthy glow!
No matter what you do, just try and protect your birthday suit as much as possible—you only get one!
Special thanks to Hayley Roy for sharing her wealth of skin care wisdom.