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How to Revamp Your Skincare Routine for Summer

various beauty and skin care products on a light pink background

With hotter temps, humid air, and intense sunshine, the summer months can do a number on our skin. Depending on your skin type and where you live, the products and methods you use to protect and nourish your skin in the spring, winter, and fall just might not cut it anymore.

Here’s how to revamp your summer skincare routine at home to maintain a healthy and glowing complexion all season long.

1. Use a foam-based cleanser.

Climbing summer temperatures and ample outdoor activities means more sweating, which means more face washing. Foam-based cleansers are gentler and lighter than oil and cream-based cleansers but still successfully eliminate the dirt and grime your skin collects throughout the day. For your skincare routine for summer, only wash your face once per day and after exercise using a lightweight foam-based cleanser to keep your skin clean and moisturized.

2. Wear sunscreen daily.

Sunscreen is the most important step in any skincare routine, especially during the summer. Each day, you should apply a half teaspoon of sunscreen to your face and neck. For optimal coverage, look for facial sunscreens that offer:

  • Broad spectrum protection (covering a broad range of UVA to UVB rays)
  • High sun protection factor (SPF 30 at a minimum)
  • Lip protection

woman in sunhat applying sunscreen to face on beach

Remember to reapply sunscreen.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of sunscreen decreases over time. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or sooner if you’re swimming or sweating. Also, remember to apply it on the easy-to-miss spots, like the ears, chest, back of the neck, and along the hairline.

Consider wearing sun protection clothing.

In tandem with sunscreen, consider wearing UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing that guards against UV rays. Beyond breathable, long-sleeve tees, you’ll find:

  • Button-up camp shirts
  • Dresses
  • Hoodies
  • Pants
  • Neck gaiters
  • Arm sleeves
  • Shawls

This clothing not only looks great, but it provides superior sun protection.

What does sunscreen SPF mean? Read our article, “Blocking the Blaze: The 4-1-1 on Sunscreen SPFs & UV Protection,” to learn everything about sunscreen, SPF, and UV protection. 

3. Exfoliate in moderation. 

Increased sweating and sunscreen use can wreak havoc on your skin. Incorporating a physical or chemical exfoliant into your summer skincare routine is key to clearing clogged pores, sweat, and oils. You may be tempted to exfoliate every day, but once or twice a week will get the job done. Over-exfoliating or exfoliating sunburned skin can damage your skin barrier and do more harm than good.

4. Opt for non-comedogenic products.

In addition to exfoliants, non-comedogenic makeup and skincare products can also help combat clogged pores. These products are designed to not block pores and have a water-based formula that’s light and breathable. Non-comedogenic products typically display the term on its label and contain ingredients like

  • Niacinamide
  • Glycerine 
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid 

All in all, non-comedogenic products can benefit everyone, but are especially useful for those wanting a summer oily skincare routine.

5. Leverage antioxidants. 

orange and lemon slices in water with vitamin c serum

Incorporating antioxidants, like vitamin C, into your summer skincare routine at home has serious advantages. Often coming in a topical serum, vitamin C neutralizes free radicals created by UV light—something sunscreen cannot do—and can help prevent and improve detrimental effects of the sun, such as hyperpigmentation and fine lines. 

Safe for most skin types, vitamin C doesn’t replace the need for sunscreen, but studies have shown that a vitamin C serum reduced sunburn cell formation by 40-60%. With these powerful perks, antioxidants should be a summertime staple. 

6. Stick with your retinoid.

Over-the-counter and prescription retinoids (a form of vitamin A) are a skincare holy grail for those looking to ease acne and fine lines. However, because retinoids make you more sensitive to the sun, some people believe you must stop using them in the summer. Luckily, this isn’t the case—the pros say you can continue using retinoids during summer. To minimize irritation, be extra diligent about sun protection and consider only using retinoids at night. 

7. Apply a lightweight moisturizer. 

While you may not experience dry skin in the summertime, you still need to moisturize because excessive heat can be dehydrating. For best results, swap out your rich winter night cream for a lightweight moisturizer that’ll hydrate the skin without making it feel greasy or weighing it down. Here are the moisturizers board-certified dermatologists recommend for various skin types: 

For dry skin

If you have dry skin, you may be hesitant to ditch your heavy-duty cream. Fortunately, a gel-based moisturizer with ceramides or hyaluronic acid will be just as effective.  

For oily skin

Those with dry skin should look for a water-based lotion to keep their complexion refreshed without the extra grease. 

Step-by-Step Summer Skincare Routine

five hands holding up skincare products and containers

The order of your summer skincare routine matters when you're learning how to take care of your skin in the summer. Following the correct process ensures you receive the maximum benefits of each product. Because every person is unique, your summer skincare routine will be, too. Regardless of the types and amounts of products you use, you should always apply your products in order of consistency—from thinnest to thickest. Here’s an example of an extensive, morning-and-night skincare routine for summer.

Daytime Skincare Routine    

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner
  3. Serum
  4. Eye cream
  5. Spot treatment
  6. Moisturizer
  7. Sunscreen

Nighttime Skincare Routine

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner
  3. Treatment
  4. Retinol
  5. Serum
  6. Eye cream
  7. Moisturizer or night cream

step-by-step summer skincare routine infographic for day and night

The Takeaway: Now You Know How to Take Care of Your Skin in the Summer 

If your wardrobe changes in the summer months, your summer skincare routine at home should, too. By following the tips above, including using a foam-based cleanser, wearing sunscreen daily, exfoliating in moderation, opting for non-comedogenic products, incorporating antioxidants, sticking with your retinoid, and applying a lightweight moisturizer, you’ll have the ultimate skincare routine for summer and know how to take care of your skin in the summer

Summer Skincare FAQs

skincare products in front of a pool

Do I need moisturizer in the summer? 

Yes, you must use a moisturizer every day in the summer. Even though your skin may feel oilier, it still needs hydration. Instead of a heavy, cream-based moisturizer, use a lightweight gel or water-based product.

How many skincare products do you need?

Experts say that three to four skincare products should be sufficient. While everyone is different, a good cleanser, moisturizer, SPF, and spot treatment should address your skin’s needs. Work with a dermatologist or licensed specialist to find what’s best for you.

Should you wear makeup in the summer? 

Wearing makeup in the summer is a personal preference. With excess sweat and oils, it’s hard for makeup to stay put, and it can clog your pores and impair your skin’s ability to cool down. However, if you’d like to continue wearing makeup, you can. Like moisturizer, switching to more lightweight products may boost comfort.

How do I take care of my skin in the summer? 

In addition to drinking water, these tips will prepare your skin for summer. Be sure to:

  • Use a foam-based cleanser
  • Wear sunscreen daily
  • Exfoliate in moderation
  • Opt for non-comedogenic products
  • Stick with your retinoid
  • Apply a lightweight moisturizer

Where does sunscreen go in a skincare routine? 

Sunscreen should be the last step of your summer skincare routine. It should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside.