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Summer Skincare Routine: Tips to Keep Skin Fresh

Summer is on its way and the prospect of longer, warmer days in on the horizon. As you prepare to have some fun in the sun, here are easy summer skincare tips for healthy and glowing skin this season.

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How to Change Skincare Routine for the Summer

We asked  board-certified dermatologist and founder of Curology, Dr. David Lortscher for his professional insights on how to effectively navigate summer skincare. Here's his tips:

Change Your Summer Skincare to Avoid Acne Flare Ups

Acne can flare up when seasons change because as these environmental changes affect the state of your skin, the products you use may no longer work the same way.

Your skin might benefit from an adjusted skincare routine. For example, sebaceous (oil-producing) glands secrete more sebum (oil) in the summer. So, your skin may get oilier (leading to increased acne breakout), requiring lighter moisturizer.

Sometimes, the sun can induce acne-like eruptions. Acne aestivalis is a type of acne that was reported to occur in Europeans after a beach holiday (also termed acne Mallorca).

This may be triggered when UV radiation combines with certain ingredients found in sunscreen and other topical products , such as emulsifiers, causing irritation and inflammation of the sebaceous follicle.

Swap Cream-Based Products for Gel-Based Cleansers and Moisturizers

With more humidity in the air as we transition into summer, products with a gel base tend to be lighter Summer is the season with the highest oil production, so rich hydrating creams and cleansers can be traded in for lighter gel and water-based products.


You could swap out the creamier cleansers for a gel-based one, like Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel.

If you have oily skin in the summer, opt for a foaming cleanser such as CeraVe Foaming Cleanser or No 7 Beautiful Skin Foaming Cleanser. As men tend to be oilier and tend to sweat more, they may need to cleanse more often.


For moisturizers, would recommend a lighter, gel-based moisturizer that will provide hydration without leaving skin feeling greasy. A good option commonly found in drugstores is Clean & Clear Morning Burst Hydrating Gel Moisturizer.

Sunscreen is a must (all year round)

While wearing sunscreen year round is important, it is especially crucial during the summer with increased sun exposure. It is also important to use sunscreen on the body as well.

Good choices include Solbar Zinc SPF 38,  MDSolarSciences Mineral Sunscreen Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 40 and Kiss My Face SPF 50 Sun Spray Lotion. Be sure to reapply every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating even if the sunscreen is labeled as water resistant.

Use a Hydrating Mask for Hotter Temperatures (Optional!)

Hotter temperatures in summer can mean more sweat, an oily T-zone, and more redness. In areas with dry heat, a hydrating mask may provide some much needed relief from summer temperatures. Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Cotton Sheet Mask with witch hazel and Avene Soothing Moisture Mask with safflower oil can be hydrating and soothing masks to try.

For those with oily skin that can be exasperated in the summer heat, clay or mud masks may be a good option. Clay masks usually contain bentonite and kaolin clay; these draw out water and oil from your skin. Some masks you can easily find on Amazon: Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay and Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque.

Do’s & Don'ts of Summer Skincare

As the days get sunnier, those with fair or sensitive skin might reduce or stop usage of products that have the potential to make skin more sensitive to the sun, such as AHA (alpha hydroxy acids), retinol, and prescription retinoids.

Lighten your skincare as the days get longer and lighter. Think of creams as heaviest, lotions as intermediate, and serums as lightest.

A Vitamin C serum such as Paula's Choice Resist C15 Super Booster can be a great addition to your routine either in the morning before sunscreen, or at night.  

Tanning will not even out dark spots. Typically, the dark spots get darker along with your normal skin, so the contrast is still there, and the spots don't look less noticeable.

Step 1: Clean Your Skin

Summer Skincare Routine

Dermalogica Sebum Clearing Masque

I love to start off my skincare routine by using this clay-based masque to unclog pores, refresh skin and absorb excess oil. The masque is ideal for anyone who suffers from blackheads and breakouts, or in my case, redness and inflammation caused by heat in the summer.

It does wonders in clearing up the skin without any irritation and keeping my T-zone oil-free, which used to be a problem caused by summer sweat. I prefer to use it 2-3 times a week.

Step 2: Exfoliate Your Face (and Hands)

Summer Skincare Routine

Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub

Next, I apply this gentle exfoliant. The small granules exfoliate the skin and removes dead cells, for a more comprehensive cleanse. It feels like a at-home microdermabrasion with a warming sensation on the skin that is activated by water. 

If you have sensitive skin like mine, an alternative is to leave it on the skin as a mask and let the vitamins (C and E) do the work for you. Because it delivers resultants instantly and powerfully, I only use it once a week.  

Tip: Great for hands too!

Step 3: Hydrate Your Summer Skin

Summer Skincare Routine

Dermalogica Calm Water Gel

Now it's time to hydrate the skin with this soothing and very refreshing water-based gel. Because of my combination skin-type, I always try to use a very light-weight moisturizer and this does the trick.

While it dispenses as gel, it takes on a very weightless texture once it is applied and has a medicinal scent with hints of lavender. Skin is super hydrated without any grease and perfectly prepared for a few drops of other oil-based hydration.

Step 4: Protect Your Skin with SPF

Summer Skincare Routine

La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX Antioxidant Serum with Sunscreen

If you are planning to spend the day under the sun, I like to combine steps 3 and 4 with this two-in-one product to add that extra layer of protection. It is a 50 SPF with a combination of antioxidant serum which is a match made in heaven.

Although the texture is similar to that of a white-base sunscreen, I appreciate the lightweight serum formula, which is quickly absorbing and does not leave any white residue. It has helped significantly in maintaining my skin looking more even-toned and works effectively to fight sun spots.   


Julian Palma works in international development, with a passion for all things style-related.