The 30 Best Skincare Tips for Summer
Sure, summer is the season to kick back, relax, and just enjoy being outside, but it's not the time to slack on your skincare routine. UVA/UVB rays are harmful all year long, but are especially damaging during the summer months when our exposure levels are higher thanks to spending free days at the beach or in the park.
That's why it's important to focus on sun and heat protection, in addition to maintaining your regular skincare routine. But it can be tough to know where to start when switching over your products for a new season, so we turned to a handful of top dermatologists to find out their tips for keeping skin healthy during the summer.
Keep scrolling for 30 skincare tips that will get you through the summer, no matter your skin type.
Use a Foundation With SPF
For those days and events when you need a little more coverage but still want to be protected, Dr. Jennifer MacGregor from Union Square Laser Dermatology in NYC recommends investing in a foundation with SPF. This oil free Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint Foundation has SPF 40 so your skin is covered from UV rays without the heaviness of thick foundation or greasy sunscreen.
Carry a Sunscreen Stick
Dr. MacGregor recommends carrying a sunscreen stick with you when you're on the go to easily reapply throughout the day. She suggests applying it around your eye area for coverage around sensitive skin. Try this Supergoop! Glow Stick SPF 50 for light and invisible coverage.
Protect Your Scalp
Long hair does offer some shade from the sun, but the sensitive skin along your hairline can still get burned. "Use a sunscreen spray along your part. It's harder for creams to be absorbed there, and you can still burn," says New York dermatologist Dr. Neil Sadick. Try Supergoop! 100% Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30, a zinc-based sunscreen that dries clear on all skin tones.
Don't Forget Your Lips
Yes, your lips need sunscreen, too. Since the sun can be extremely drying, keep them soft and smooth by using a rich lip balm with SPF 15 or higher like EltaMD SPF 36. Don't forget to reapply it when you're outside.
Avoid Peak Hours
We all want to soak up the sun when it's at it's peak, but that's also when it's most harmful. If you can, avoid direct exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., says Dr. MacGregor. But if you will be exposed during those times she advises being fully prepared. "Carry multiple forms of sunscreen, including powder to layer on if you are sweating on the go."
Carry Mineral Powder Sunscreen On the Go
Listen, no one wants to go through the hassle of washing your face and redoing your makeup each time you need to reapply sunscreen. To streamline the process, New York-based dermatologist Pat Wexler suggests touching up with mineral makeup that contains SPF 50, like the Avene High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50 ($36; ulta.com). Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen SPF 30 ($69; dermstore.com) also provides sheer coverage and protection in a convenient, dust-on wand. An added bonus? If you have oily-combination skin powder your face throughout the day to cut shine while protecting your skin from harmful UV rays — it's a win win.
Treat Sunburn With Hydrocortisone Cream
Although Dr. MacGregor highly stresses the importance of avoiding sunburn ("Don't get sunburned!! If you do then get out of the sun somewhere cool and dark!) But if it does happen, there are some ways you can treat it. Hydrocortisone 1% cream or ointment can help soothe the irritation and redness.
Use Oatmeal Treatments to Soothe
Another great sunburn treating property that Dr. MacGregor suggests is oatmeal because it relieves irritation and redness. The First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration contains Colloidal Oatmeal to soothe and treat sunburn.
Use a Retinoid At Night
Believe it or not, retinoids can actually help prevent and repair sun damage when you use them properly. Dr. MacGregor says to apply a retinoid at night — like The Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane — and if you experience redness or irritation try applying every other or every third night.
Use a Gentle Exfoliant If You Have Acne-Prone Skin
Since the summer months can already be harsh on your skin, you should ditch any real strong exfoliants. But if you get tend to get stubborn breakouts in the heat (like many of us do), MacGregor suggests using a more gentle exfoliant like a salicylic acid. Skin Ceuticals Silymarin serum contains both vitamin C and salicylic acid to fight breakouts while brightening.
Take a Cool Shower
Hot showers after sun exposure further dry out skin. Turn down the temperature and you’ll pick up a few added benefits. “A cool shower after excess sweating helps to keep skin clear, decreasing acne breakouts,” Dr. Sadick says.
Wear a Wide-Brim Hat
A baseball cap won't protect your face from sun coming at an angle. “Opt for a hat with a brim for full protection,” says Dr. Wexler.
Drink Lots of Water
Since water is practically the solution to everything, staying hydrated will have many benefits, like clearer, more supple skin. But it can also help the recovery of a burn, along with electrolytes and rest, according to Dr. MacGregor. But it won't replace professional help. "If the skin blisters, you have a fever, or feel unwell, seek medical attention right away," says Dr. MacGregor. "And get full body skin exams because sunburn increases your risk for melanoma!"
Slough Away Dry Skin
"One of the most effective ways to exfoliate during the summer is to use a scrub on dry skin before you shower," says dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf. "Pay special attention to knees and elbows. Finish with a rich body cream or oil within three minutes of toweling off." Try Susanne Kaufmann's Body Scrub ($76; dermstore.com) and Honest Company Organic Body Oil ($10; amazon.com).
Load Up On Melon
Cantaloupe is the melon of choice for beautiful summer skin, according to New York-based dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone. “The sweet fruit is rich in antioxidants and delivers a unique hydration to the skin, resulting in a radiant complexion.” Facialist Kate Somerville likes watermelon in the summer months. “It can actually boost your SPF by several factors,” she says.
Treat Your Legs
“The trick to great summer legs is to alter the way light reflects off the skin's surface,” dermatologist Hilary Reich explains. Start by exfoliating with Ahava DeadSea Skin Softening Butter Salt Scrub ($26; amazon.com). Then apply Caudalie Vine Butter ($34; amazon.com). For a final touch, rub on Charlotte Tilbury Supermodel Body Slimmer Shimmer, Shape, Hydrate & Glow ($65; nordstrom.com).
Treat Sun Spots
Melasma — a common skin discoloration consisting of dark spots, which can develop on the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip — is a summertime skin risk. “Apply a fade cream nightly like Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector or ask your dermatologist for a prescription-strength version,” Dr. Reich suggests.
Fight Acne All Over
Body acne can happen any time of the year, but it's more common during sweatier months. Dr. Reich recommends washing in the morning with an acne-fighting body wash like Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash ($8; target.com) and wiping skin with Noxzema Ultimate Clear Anti-Blemish Pads ($6; target.com) at night.
Don't Itch Bug Bites
Bug bites can itch and linger for weeks after they become inflamed. If you happen to get stuck with a sting, Dr. Reich suggests using Aveeno Hydrocortisone 1% Anti-Itch Cream ($6; target.com) twice daily until itching resolves. To fade any residual marks, try Avene Ciclafate Restorative Cream ($35; ulta.com) twice a day and concealer as needed.
Go Easy On The Eyes
The summer weather can be especially harsh on the fragile skin around the eyes. Nashville, TN-based dermatologist Dr. Michael Gold recommends using Neocutis Lumiere eye cream from June through August. It contains a patented PSP complex of human growth factors and antioxidants to "help prevent and even reverse wrinkles,” he says. “Plus, the texture is light, and it’s very fast absorbing, which is important during the hot and humid days of summer.”
Amp Up Your Antioxidants
Antioxidants are key in the summer, and there are tons of ways to work them into your routine. Layer on a serum like SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF Gel ($166; skinceuticals.com) to boost the potency of your coverage. If you do get a burn, iS Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus ($155; dermstore.com) helps reduce the appearance of sun spots. “It’s not ideal, but it will still help minimize the effects,” says Dr. Rebecca Giles
Don't Forget Your Hands
"The thin skin on your hands wrinkles and pigments easily, so be sure to use sunblock daily," Dr. Giles says. Eucerin Daily Hydration Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Body Creme shields hands from UVA/UVB rays while fully absorbing into skin for a non-greasy finish.
Try Tinted Lotion
According to Dr. Giles, a bit of sheen in your body lotion can make bare skin look even smoother. She likes Prtty Peaushun Skin Tight Body Lotion because, "its formulations are based on skin color, and the shimmer is subtle.”
Bounce Back from a Sunburn
The lactic acid found in plain yogurt has soothing and calming benefits. Use Korres After Sun Greek Yoghurt Cooling Gel for Face and Body as a mask by leaving it on for 30 minutes before taking a cool shower and patting skin dry. In addition to this treatment, slather skin with aloe vera gel three to four times a day to help burns heal more quickly.
Eat Your SPF (Really!)
“There's some evidence that oral intake of vitamins C and E together can limit potential for sunburn,” Dr. Giles notes. A salad with vitamin C-rich citrus, berries, tomato, and vitamin E-rich nuts is an ideal SPF meal.
Use A Lightweight Sunscreen
A lot of sunscreens can be heavy and oily, which can contribute to breakouts and shine. Swap your current SPF for a lightweight serum that will soak into skin without leaving a white cast. Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Hydrating Shield shields skin from UVA/UVB damage while protecting it from the effects of pollution.
“Reduce bumps caused by summer heat and humidity with an at-home glycolic mask once a week,” suggests dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi. “These masks can also soothe skin that's irritated by sun and saltwater or chlorine from the pool.” Ren Clean Skincare's Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask gently exfoliates while nourishing and repairing skin.
Fake A Sun-Kissed Glow
By now you have to know how bad sitting out in the sun is for your skin, so fake a glow with a self tanner. This St. Tropez Self Tan Purity Bronzing Water Mousse is a rinse-free, clear formula that's made from natural and vegan-friendly tanning agents.
Soothe Razor Bumps
Whether or not you choose to groom your body hair is entirely up to you, but if you do decide to wax or shave your bikini line this summer, beware of razor bumps and ingrown hair. Along with gently exfoliating the area regularly to keep it smooth, treat any red bumps with an ingrown hair cream like this one from Malin+Goetz. It's packed chamomile to calm irritation along with glycolic and salicylic acid to exfoliate.
Cool Off With A Mist
Stash a bottle of face mist in your cooler so you can mist your face and body when you're at the beach. Olehenricksen's Pure Nurture Facial Water is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that will soothe and hydrate skin on top of cooling you down.