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Ditch Creams for Serums? How to Best Transition Your Skin Care Routine from Winter to Spring


Creams for Serums

can apply to both your home and your routine.

The transition from cold winter months to warmer spring weather changes what products your skin needs and how effectively certain products will work. Consider the following ways to rejuvenate your routine and put your freshest face forward.

Exfoliating: Winter Skin Care vs. Summer Skin Care

Winter: Cold weather often leads to drier skin which can mean a greater buildup of dead skin. In the winter it’s best to exfoliate weekly with a scrub or chemical acid treatment to help unblock pores and safely remove the outer layer of dead skin cells, bringing new skin to the surface.

Summer: Since dryness is less of a problem in the summer, exfoliating can be reduces to about once every two weeks, according to dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla.

Notes on Choosing the Best Exfoliator:

Consider a more natural, microbead-free exfoliator which is fast-acting, gentle on skin and won’t harm the environment. Even better, search for a cleanser that also contains the hydrating ingredient jojoba seed oil which aids in hydration absorption for skin post-exfoliation. Dead skin cells block maximum absorption of products, so once skin is properly exfoliated, it is primed to absorb more of the hydrating and brightening nutrients offered in the serums and moisturizing products that follow in your skin care routine.

For those opting for chemical exfoliation, consider consulting a dermatologist or looking for an over-the-counter option that is no greater than 10 percent glycolic acid or 2 percent salicylic acid (anything greater can possibly irritate or burn skin).[2] There are effective over-the-counter options to consider. Look for a natural exfoliator that uses a blend of different alpha hydroxy acids. Each of these acids help regenerate and nourish surface layers of the skin and come from natural acids found in foods.[3]

Beware that many mainstream facial scrubs and exfoliators contain microbeads, tiny plastic beads that cause microscopic tears in your skin which can worsen acne and increase . (Side Note: Microbeads are also extremely detrimental to the environment: they end up in waterways where they absorb toxic pollutants, wildlife eat the poisonous beads, and these animals in turn get hunted or fished as food, potentially poisoning people. The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 requires that companies stop using microbeads in their products by July 2017.[1])

Exfoliation doesn’t need to be limited to just the face—exfoliate your entire body to help revive winter skin, especially on areas prone to dryness such as elbows and knees.

Products: Your Winter Skin Care Routine vs. Your Summer Care Routine

In the winter your skin is thirsty for the type of moisture that not only restores hydration but can lock it in and protect your skin from card, harsh winds. This often requires a much more intense moisturizing system. But your skin’s needs are very different in the spring and summer months when the air contains more moisture.

As humidity increases, your skin naturally produces more oil, so this is the time to swap out those heavy creams and moisturizers for lighter serums, oils and moisturizers that allow your skin to breathe while still keeping it hydrated.

But there’s another reason to opt for a lighter serum or oil in the spring and summer: It has been found when applying skin care products in the warmer months, more friction and skin-pulling occurs, suggesting thinner/lighter products may be more appropriate and will more easily glide onto and absorb into skin.[4]

Since increased oil production is in the spring and summer months, think about transitioning to gentler, pH balancing foaming cleansers. Heavier cleansers may strip your skin of oil, but this will actually make your skin more oil to compensate. And while it may sound excessive, consider double to help further avoid breakouts. First to remove makeup, such as with makeup removing wipes. Then wash with the aforementioned foaming cleanser to ensure that all oil-based debris has been removed.[5]

You may also want to exercise more caution if you use certain medications that can make your skin more sensitive to the . Certain acne medications, such as doxycycline and tetracycline, and heart medications, such as nifedipine and diltiazem, are among those that can increase sensitivity. (WebMD has a helpful list of medications that may increase photosensitivity.) Make sure to either up your SPF use or talk to your doctor about taking these medications at night.[6]

Topical retinoids can also have a similar effect and switching to nighttime-only use may be a good option.

Reevaluate SPF Use

Spring is a great time to reevaluate how consistently you implement SPF into your skin care routine and whether your current products provide enough coverage to prevent sun damage. A common misconception is that makeup products or moisturizers containing SPF are sufficient on their own, however these must be used in conjunction with regular sunscreen—in some cases you would need to apply seven times the amount of makeup/moisturizing product in order to achieve the sun protection factor on the label.[7]

You likely will spend more time outside in the warmer months, so first make sure you are using a broad-spectrum sunscreen beneath your makeup with at least SPF 30, per recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology, and that you reapply at least once during the day.[8]

Of course, it’s important to note that SPF does block the production of , a critical for several processes in the body. When SPF use goes up in the summer months, be sure to supplement with 1,000 – 5,000 IU of 2.

Cosmetic Cleanup: Out with the Old and in with the New

Just as you should swap out your heavier winter skin care creams and cleansers, so too should you swap out your makeup products. Heavy foundations should take a backseat to lighter tinted moisturizers, for example, which are less likely to clog your pores. You should also toss out any expired products which can harbor bacteria buildup leading to dull skin and clogged pores. Contaminated makeup and other skin care products can cause irritation and even infections.[9] The following represents general guidelines for makeup that should be replaced with each change of season[10]:

  • Every three months—mascara and eyeliner
  • Every six months—liquid foundation, liquid concealer, and cream eye shadow
  • Six months after opening or by the expiration date—sunscreen

Makeup brushes should also be thoroughly cleaned, ideally every week. This can be done with a quick-dry brush cleanser or a more thorough wet wash using mild soap or shampoo.[11]

Ultimately, all these simple tweaks to your routine require little additional work and may translate to brighter, fresher, more protected skin.


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