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Good to Glow: Summer Skin Care 101

Soaking up the summer sun for hours can feel amazing. But along with all that vitamin D comes plenty of concerns, too—sunburns, sunspots, breakouts, and clogged pores, to name a few—and the need for a proper sun protection plan.

We asked skin care experts for ways to welcome the warmer weather safely. Keep reading for their top tips to keep your skin glowing (and protected!) all season long.

Before you hit the sand or salty waves, get your scrub on! Heat, humidity, and sweat can wreak havoc on your complexion. A gentle exfoliation of your body from head to toe will remove dead skin cells that can trap oil and clog pores, freshen up your complexion, and prevent dreaded summer breakouts. Myriam Liberman, owner and esthetician at The Tiger’s Eye Skincare (, suggests using “a gentle daily exfoliant and alpha hydroxy peel, which can both be used to remove dead skin cells. The Tiger’s Eye makes an exfoliant that has tiny natural beads and a peel with five natural fruit acids; both products contain aloe vera to soothe and cool as they work.”

Make sunscreen your BFF all year long! Taking that extra step of applying a quality SPF seems daunting when you’re gearing up to head outside, but applying sunscreen before and during sun exposure is essential to your skin’s health and protection. “The number one product for all seasons, but especially summer, is SPF! Proper protection should be SPF 30 or higher and needs to be reapplied frequently. Any SPF only protects you for about two hours; and contrary to belief, you’re still getting exposure indoors from windows, overhead lights, and screens. Make sure you protect your neck, chest, hands, and ears daily, too. A good full-spectrum sunblock is key! My favorite is Colorescience. They have liquid and powder forms with full protection and reef-safe formulas,” says Christine Carpenter, lead esthetician and director of retail sales and education with Destination Aesthetics (

Your skin absorbs every product you put on it, so make sure it’s clean. “While many sunscreens are backing off [from using] chemical additives, make sure you choose a clean, broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen,” says Justina Stevenson, BSN, RN, LE, director of operations and an aesthetic nurse at Entourage MD Skin & Wellness ( Check labels and pay attention to ingredient safety policies, such as chemical-free, cruelty-free, and vegan.

Protecting your skin with the proper tools can have long-term, lasting effects. According to Carpenter, “A summer essential is a good hyaluronic acid serum. This will help balance hydration, with a lightweight feel that’s perfect for warm summer days. SkinMedicas HA5 contains five different types of hyaluronic acid, which is the same number our bodies naturally produce, to perfectly hydrate, plump, reduce fine lines, and keep skin balanced.” Also, reach for water when it’s hotter! Drinking water hydrates your skin and improves elasticity, helping to prevent signs of aging. Fill up your reusable water bottle and never let your skin get thirsty this summer.

Let your skin breathe! Warmer temperatures can bring on sweat and cause your skin to retain more moisture, which can lead to dreaded clogged pores. Stevenson suggests “backing off heavy-duty creams and switching to lightweight gels and/or moisturizing serums that contain hyaluronic acid or vitamin B5.”

The same health benefits we get from increasing vitamin C in our diet can be found by implementing them into our skin care regimen, too. “With more outdoor activities and gatherings, antioxidant protection is high on my personal summer skin care list,” says Carpenter. “They help to protect against environmental aggressors (such as smoke and pollution) that cause us to age faster. A good quality vitamin C serum, like Obagi’s Professional-C portfolio, is a great way to enhance your complexion and protect against free radical damage.”  

If you’re currently using retinol-based skin care products or are on a prescribed retinol medication and plan to sunbathe, Stevenson advises you “stop the use of retinols or any vitamin A derivatives.” Retinols and retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so decrease their usage if you plan on spending time exposed or unprotected from the more intense summer sun. 

by Melissa Strand