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With summer winding down and autumn peeking around the corner I’ve started thinking about swapping out my tank tops for fuzzy sweaters and trading my flip flops for a new pair of boots. But to keep looking our best we need to change more than just our wardrobes with the seasons.
Did you know your skin has different needs in different seasons? This change in needs will be most pronounced in regions where there is a big difference in weather from one season to the next, but most everyone will benefit from at least one or two small tweaks from season to season.
First, let’s take a look at what you are already (or should be) doing daily and weekly to keep your skin happy and healthy.
The daily drill should include cleansing, toning and moisturizing. Ideally, this would be a morning and evening routine, but in the real world you can get away with once a day. Do it when you’re least likely to let it slide.
Cleansing is first and should be done with a light touch, lukewarm water, and a gentle cleanser. This takes care of surface dirt and oil, as well as makeup and environmental buildup.
Toning comes next and primarily serves to balance the pH of the skin. Healthy human skin has a normal pH between 4.5 and 5.5. Cleansers tend to bump it just above this and toning brings it back down. Spritzing toner on just before moisturizing also boosts the effectiveness of your moisturizer, allowing you to use less.
Moisturizer does more than just feel good. The proper moisturizer can slow the signs of aging, improve skin texture and even help control excess oil production. Ideally, moisturizer should also include SPF of at least 15, or higher depending on season and lifestyle. This needs to go on before you leave the house in the morning, so if you’re doing the other steps only at night, make SPF part of your makeup routine.
In addition to the daily routine, a weekly or twice-weekly exfoliation and mask will get you the best possible at-home results.
What you are looking for in an exfoliant is smooth but slightly gritty texture. You want to work with wet product and skin, keep an extremely light touch, and let the product do the work. This is your face, not the kitchen floor. NO SCRUBBING! I know this is counter intuitive, but your skin will thank you.
Ideally, you’ll exfoliate no more than twice weekly unless the product is specifically labelled for daily use. Even then, use caution, and never exfoliate the same day as a wax.
A mask will treat your specific skin type, to draw out deep impurities, provide missing nutrients, or soothe away irritation. Again this is ideally done at least once per week, but more than twice is probably over kill.
Choose a mask based on the results you want to see. There are masks on the market for everything from acne control to wrinkle control. When a mask is on your face you might feel itchy or tingly, but you should never feel a burning sensation. If you do, rinse the mask off with plenty of luke warm water immediately.
Spring and Summer Swaps
The first thing you probably think of changing for summer is your moisturizer. You’re going to be out enjoying the weather, and you’ll need a higher SPF. I usually recommend a Broad Spectrum SPF 30, and if you’ll be sweating or swimming I recommend a water resistant formula. Here’s the catch. A sun block that does a great job of keeping your skin shaded, is also going to be hard to wash off. You may notice that you are developing milia (not full blown zits, but small white pearls of ‘gunk’ blocking pores) or blackheads.
The immediate solution is to see your Esthetician for extractions, but while you’re there ask her to recommend an oil based, or “milk” cleanser. An oil based cleanser will do a better job of emulsifying or breaking down, the heavy ingredients in longer wearing sun blocks. You will use the oil cleanser first, then if needed, follow it up with your normal cleanser, and continue with the rest of your normal routine.
At the end of summer, I like to do a detoxifying clay mask to really draw out any gunk left behind by a summer of heavier sun block.
Fall and Winter Flips
Is there anything nicer than cozying up to a crackling fireplace when autumn begins to nip at you? Even if you don’t have a fireplace, you’ll likely be upping the thermostat on your electric furnace. How ever you warm up in winter, furnace or fire both do capitol jobs at zapping the moisture right out of the air. You may notice your skin begin to feel dry and itchy or even begin to chap and crack. There is a three pronged approach to fixing this problem.
The first thing is finding a way to raise the humidity inside your home. A humidifier will do the job nicely, but so will a pot of water simmering on the stove. This isn’t just for the skin you can see. Your nose, eyes and throat will be much more comfortable too.
Next, you need to make sure you are still drinking enough water. I tend to forget to drink water in favor of too much coffee when winter sets in. A nice hot mug is just so lovely to hold and sip while watching the snow fall, or after coming in from a sled run. If you’re going to sip a warm cup of something all day try switching to herbal teas or warm lemon water after the morning cup of coffee.
Third, you may need a heavier moisturizer than usual. Extremely dry skin such as on hands and feet can even benefit from one that includes dimethicone or beeswax. Generally keep waxes and silicones off your face though, or you may over correct and end up with those milia and blackheads you were battling last summer.
Another consideration for winter is trading your normal mask for an extra soothing or hydrating one. I love a mask of plain oatmeal ground fine and blended with yogurt. It’s a mess to make and use, and a pain to clean up, but there’s nothing like it for soothing away the dry itchies.
Year Round Pro-Tips
You don’t have to spend a fortune, especially if you have uncomplicated skin. There are a lot of respectable drug store brands out there, just look for the one with the shortest ingredient list, and the fewest dyes and perfumes. The majority of problems people have with skincare products come from dyes and fragrances, which are common allergens.
If you do buy expensive products for their “power” ingredients, use them as directed. That fifty dollar moisturizer isn’t designed to be used once a week on date night. You have to use it daily to see the advertised results.
If you use anything with a Retinol in it, you MUST use sunscreen without fail. Retinols (Also labelled as Vitamin A and Retin-A) work by speeding up cell turnover, which leaves your skin thinner and more vulnerable to the harmful effects of the sun. Many Retinol users who fail to use sunscreen report uneven skin tone and dark spots. That’s sun damage.
Finally, skin is an organ, and just like any organ, it’ll be healthiest when we stick with a healthy lifestyle. So eat your veggies, get your exercise and don’t skimp on the beauty sleep.
Whether you’re switching your summer wardrobe for winter or vice versa, combining a healthy lifestyle, with a proven skin care routine will keep you wearing your best skin year round.
Get your glow on!