Your summer skin-care road map has officially arrived—here’s what to know

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There’s sweat dripping down your forehead, your shirt’s damp, and your face is slightly red. No, you’re not mid-burpee in your go-to fitness class—it’s just another day at the beach (AKA: it’s *finally* summer). This of course means plenty of things are changing, from your wardrobe to your coffee (hello again, cold brew!). Another thing that’s gotta go through a warm weather transition? Your skin care.

Winter calls for a decadent array of thick moisturizers and cleansing balms—but summer has its own eclat of serums and gels to get the job done without making your skin feel like it’s being wrapped in the beauty equivalent of a down jacket. Below, skin gurus sound off on the key ways you should switch up your beauty regimen in the hotter temps, from your SPF choice to which active serums you use.

Keep scrolling for the ways to summer-ify your skin-care regimen.

summer skincare regimen
Photo: Stocksy/Susana Ramirez

Opt for lighter textures

When it’s cold out, cleansing with rich balms and creamy lathers is more of the jam since they’re so rich and provide big-time hydration. But summertime requires a whole different army of agents to get gunk out of your skin. “Switch out your cleanser for one that lathers to more fully cleanse the skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York-based dermatologist.  “During the summer, when humidity and temperatures rise, more oil, sweat, and dirt may become trapped on the skin.” A foaming cleanser is light-as-air, but has targeted surfactants to help bust through much of the gunk without stripping skin totally. Try One Love Organics’ Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser ($25).

Post wash, the same thinking goes with your skin care: You don’t want occlusive agents to trap all that gunk on your complexion, plus as Joanna Czech, an esthetician based in Dallas says, “they’re too heavy for the heat and humidity summer brings.” Instead, she suggests opting for lighter creams and oils made with known hydrators such as grape seed and avocado oil and moisture-locking serums that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which holds 1,000 times its weight in water within the skin. Dr. Zeichner adds that a lighter lotion or gel can enhance your skin’s hydration without feeling sticky in humid weather. Try Vintner’s Daughter serum ($185) or Alkaitis’ Organic Day Creme ($70).

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Add an exfoliant and watch the retinol

All that sweat (hello, three-digit temps) can cause quite the buildup of oils and pollutants on your complexion—hence why getting it all off efficiently is key. “Exfoliation is a must in any skin-care routine, especially in the summer,” says Czech. “It removes dead skin cells, sweat, dirt, and other toxins that clog your pores and reduce the efficacy of your other skin-care products.” She recommends Biologique Recherche’s Lotion P50, which works very much like a cross between a traditional chemical exfoliant and an everyday complexion balancer. In other words, it obliterates dead skin cells while also remaining gentle enough for everyday use.

Even though retinol’s an all-star ingredient that does everything from stimulate collagen to fight breakouts, it’s not so good to use in the summer months. Also known as vitamin A, it has been shown to increase your risk of skin cancer. “Retinol can make you sensitive to the sun,” says Dr. Zeichner. “You can consider taking a retinol holiday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.” Instead, Dr. Zeichner recommends opting for antioxidants and peptide creams since they nourish your skin without increasing your risk of sun damage. Try Kypris Antioxidant Dew ($70).

Stay protected from head-to-toe

Of course, even though you’re wearing your SPF all year round, it’s prime time to pay extra attention to protecting your skin from the sun’s rays. “You’re outside more in the spring and summer, and you wear more revealing clothing,” notes Dr. Zeichner. “So you need to be more diligent about sunscreen. Make sure to use sunscreen labeled as having broad spectrum protection and an SPF of at least 30.” Try Suntegrity’s Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen SPF 30 ($45).

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As you properly care for your face, however, it’s important to not forget the rest of you. “Oftentimes we get so caught up in making sure our faces don’t get burned that we forget about the rest of our bodies,” says Czech. Besides being sure to cover yourself from head to toe with a good ol’ SPF, use a good body scrub (try Herbivore’s Coco Rose Body Polish) followed by an antioxidant-rich body oil (like Soapwalla’s Luxurious Body Oil).

For more #99DaysofSummer inspo, these are the pink sand beaches you have to see to believe. And these are the best waterfall hikes in every state. 

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