As warmer weather arrives bringing with it more humidity, there are some key considerations you might want to incorporate to ensure consistent continuation of your actives regime and to ensure adequate protection of your skin from extra UV.
Keeping Skin Hydrated in Summer
Your hydration step is probably the obvious step to think about making adjustments to in summer. Heat, sun-shine and humidity can make skin just a teensy bit more dewy than we want to be. Our winter moisturiser may not cut it. So what are your options?
Firstly, I think it's worth considering whether or not you need moisturiser in the daytime at all - if your sunscreen is correctly chosen, you may be one of the lucky ones as you may be able to wear just that and get enough hydration from your sunscreen step to make it an unnecessary extra layer for the daytime.
Now, this will require that your sunscreen is a nice primer, it doesn't dry out and go patchy over the course of the day. But I think that is eminently achievable with modern formulations.
The next thing to think about that might enable you to cut back on your hydration needs - maybe you can get away with using a richer moisturiser at night, to help manage any dryness that you might get from your active routine at nighttime. And this can sometimes create extra space in the daytime, because your barrier is very well looked-after from the nighttime application of moisturiser. Thus you may not need to apply your moisturising step all over; just do a little bit around the eyes and mouth area where the skin moves quite a lot may be sufficient.
If that doesn't work for you, then it may just be a simple matter of changing hydration formulation. If you’ve been using a cream balm with a nourishing type format, consider trying one of the many lightweight gel textures.
Treating Hyperpigmentation in Summer
Consideration number two is for those who are treating hyperpigmentation. Now, it may surprise you, but summertime is often the time where I actually put my foot on the pedal and accelerate treatment. And the reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, there's considerably more UV and visible light around as than there would be in winter time and we’re spending more time outdoors. And secondly, we want skin that needs as little coverage as possible, because of longer daylight hours and the desire for natural looking make-up becomes even more sought-after.
So I think it's a natural thing to want the skin in it’s best possible condition. For many of my melasma patients, one of the commonest and perhaps hardest to treat forms of hyperpigmentation, I will consciously plan peak performance for summer. That will often mean switching up from maintenance treatment for pigmentation to a more advanced multi-tasking prescription regime based around 4% hydroquinone, for an eight to 12 week period in conjunction with retinoids and vitamin C. I also advise diligent sunscreen use and reapplication, a proper hat, and seeking shade - the essential habits needed to keep UV away from the skin.
The next thing I think about is our sunscreen choices. Do we need to think about changing the properties of our everyday sunscreen for summer specifically? I think there are a few instances where you might be need to consider additional factors. Clearly, where you live and how strong the UV levels are is of importance, but if you're going to be out and about during the day for meaningful periods of time and you can't avoid shade, then I think the best thing to do is to seek out a tinted sunscreen. Where you might normally wear a non-tinted one underneath your makeup, I would consider using a tinted one instead and try to use that as your base. This means that a proper sunscreen reapplication becomes possible - we know that that first morning application of SPF will not give you proper coverage four to six hours later if you're outdoors for anything more than a few moments. So I think it’s best to set yourself up to be able to reapply sunscreen properly, so you know you're using the right dose at all times of the day. Then, consider the need for water-resistance. I think this is of specific relevance to those who are pigmentation-prone, and in particular, for melasma patients. Melasma commonly affects areas on our top lip, cheek bone and the forehead that are often sites where we sweat. So I think a water-resistant product that is designed to stay on and really adhere to the skin in a way that gives you meaningful, long lasting protection is worth your consideration.
The last thing to think about is iron oxide. In darker skin-types who are pigmentation-prone, we knew that visible high energy blue light contributes to melanocytes releasing more pigment. So seeking out sunscreen, or high coverage cosmetics that contain iron oxide will be a useful adjunct.
What You Don’t Need to Change In your Skincare Routine In Summer
It’s worth mentioning a couple of things that I don't think have to change when it comes to summer skincare. The first is cleansing. I think that everyone pretty much should be using a simple gentle, unfragranced, non-clogging cleanser. And I don't think that the skin's cleansing needs change, particularly, from summer to winter, other than perhaps to address the more conscious reapplication of sunscreen. I think that if you’re using the right cleanser, and you take your time, there’s no need to make changes. So many people rush cleansing, and that’s why they fail to get every last bit of their cosmetics and sunscreen off their skin. Be methodical, don't miss bits around the hairlines and temples and use plenty of product - you’ll be fine to stick with the same cleanser all through the year.
The final thing that I think you should stick with in summer is your retinoid. Retinoids are actually helpful in preventing the impact of UV from harming your skin, when used correctly in context of proper sun protection. They reduce the upregulation of matrix metalloproteinases in the skin, which is one of the main mechanisms whereby UV chomps up our collagen and elastin. I think it's important to see that, particularly if you've got acne, the benefits of using retinoids all year round will far outweigh any downsides, if you're careful and implement smart sun behavior. The exception to that is when you're outdoors for long periods of time in intense UV and you cannot adequately protect your skin. So in those instances, park the retinoids for the duration of that period. But for the average individual, myself included, when going on holidays or enjoying sunny days in London over summer, I make no change to my use of retinoid. Why would I want to lose all those lovely benefits?
So whether you're staycation-ing or you've managed to get away, I hope that gives you some ideas and, importantly, some confidence in building a summer-compatible skincare plan.