This post contains affiliate links. To learn more, read my disclosure policy. Many us have recently turned to practicing different forms of self-care as a way to distract, nurture and take care of ourselves during a global pandemic. I think this is a very good thing. I find that self-care is more important than ever and practicing certain routines has definitely helped my mental health.
One of my favorite forms of self-care is a good skincare routine. I’ve been practicing a pretty consistent skincare routine for years, but it can be super confusing for someone just starting out. This is especially true now that we’re nearing the end of spring and into summer. Skincare is never one-size-fits-all, but the changing weather brings with it a whole host of challenges for taking care of our skin.
That said, I thought it would be helpful to put together a very basic skincare routine that can be customized to you. Each of these steps is focused on keeping your skin glowing (but not sweaty!) from spring into summer. This guide is just that - a guide - but this skincare routine outline should serve as a good starting point. Check out the suggestions below and I’d love to hear how you personalize it!
Step One: Cleanser
One of the easiest things you can do to keep your skin fresh and clear is to cleanse with a gentle face wash morning and night. Note: cleansing both morning and night might be too much for some people, so if you notice your skin is becoming sensitive or irritated, try cleansing with just water in the morning and sticking to cleanser only at night.
My favorite type of cleanser for spring/summer is a jelly-style cleanser. It won’t dry your skin out like foam cleansers can, but it still gets rid of oil, sweat and makeup. A few of my top jelly cleansers are Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser ($18), e.l.f. Bounce Back Jelly Cleanser ($6) and Bliss Makeup Melt Jelly Cleanser ($10.99).
Step Two: Vitamin C
It’s important to use a vitamin C product during the day to brighten skin and protect it from pollution and free radicals. It works well in tandem with sunscreen, a must-have as the days get longer (but we’ll get into that more later).
In the fall and winter, I usually use The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10% ($9.60), a brightening, hydrating cream-based formula that features a vitamin C derivative. For the spring and summer, however, I prefer a more lightweight serum. I recommend Ole Henrikson Truth Serum ($74), Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($33.99), or The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12% ($12.90).
Step Three: Hydration
It might seem counterintuitive to add a hydrating product to your skin during the late spring and summer (especially when you live somewhere humid like I do). However, it is so important to help your skin retain moisture with a product like hyaluronic acid, which hydrates without adding grease or oil. For some quick background info, hyaluronic acid is a humectant that can hold up to 1000x its weight in water, meaning it helps your skin hold onto its hydration.
In the cooler, dryer months, I typically use a hyaluronic acid serum followed by a heavier cream-based moisturizer. When it’s already hot and sticky out, I prefer to just use the hydrating serum. Some of my favorites are The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 ($6.80), Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster ($68) and First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum ($38). I also suggest spritzing a light facial mist like a rose water spray (or even a tiny splash of water) just before applying hyaluronic acid, as it offers more hydration.
Step Four AM: Sunscreen
Ah, sunscreen: the most important step in your skincare routine. Did you know that you should wear sunscreen every single day, even if it’s cloudy? YES! Harmful UV rays can still hit your skin even through clouds. So, of course, a good sunscreen is even more important to wear during the spring and summer, when the days are longer and the sun shines a little brighter.
I always apply sunscreen as the last step in my routine during the spring/summer. This is because the sunscreen I use is a combination chemical and physical SPF in a moisturizing formula, so I don't need to worry about an additional moisturizer or whether I put the sunscreen or moisturizer on first. (Quick FYI on the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens: a chemical sunscreen is one that sinks into your skin, absorbing UV rays, and includes ingredients like oxtinoxate, oxybenzone and octylcrylene. A physical sunscreen prevents UV rays from hitting the skin at all by reflecting them back and includes ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide). My absolute favorite sunscreen is the CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM with Sunscreen SPF 30 ($13.99). I don't have an issue with it leaving a white cast on my skin even though it contains a physical sunscreen, but your mileage may vary if you have a darker skin tone. A few of my other favorite sunscreens include Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen SPF 50 ($14.99) and Supergoop! Glowscreen Sunscreen SPF 40 ($36).
Step Four PM: Moisturizer
Even though it might start to be more humid outside as we head into summer, it's still important to apply a moisturizer at night to lock in the other products you've applied. Rather than a thick night cream like you might use in the fall and winter when the air is really dry, a gel or lightweight cream moisturizer will be better for spring/summer. A few of my favorites are Farmacy Daily Greens Oil-Free Gel Moisturizer with Moringa and Papaya ($38), Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Moisturizer ($39) and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel ($24.99).