The Best Summer Skincare Tips, According to Dermatologists

Your summer beauty mood board probably includes clear, glowy skin. The reality is that hot weather, humidity, and extra sun exposure can result in sweat-induced clogged pores, sunburns, and dark spots if you aren’t preventing these common summer skin concerns in your skincare routine.

With consistency, the perfect skincare routine will work for you year-round, but there are a few tweaks you can make to help minimize the seasonal side effects that summer can have on your skin.

And who has more effective skincare tips than dermatologists? We checked in with three top doctors to get their best summer skincare tips. Read on to find out how to keep your skin looking its best throughout the summer season — and beyond.

Apply SPF

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Dermatologists agree that proper UV protection is by far the most important step in any skincare routine year-round, but especially during the summer when the days are longer and you inevitably spending more time in the sun.

“SPF should be applied every day to areas that are exposed — which often includes the face, neck, chest, ears, and hands — and it is especially important to reapply every two hours, or sooner if swimming or sweating, as people spend more time outdoors in the summer months,” says Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. If you need to reapply on-the-go, she recommends a powder sunscreen like Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50, or an SPF compact like Avène’s Mineral Tinted Compact SPF 50.

It’s also key to apply enough sunscreen to ensure you get adequate protection. “You should follow the two-finger method when applying sunscreen to your face and neck,” says Dr. Karan Lal, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey. “Apply one strip of sunscreen on each of your index and middle fingers, which is the appropriate amount for the face every day. When it comes to the body, a shot glass amount is appropriate for exposed areas.”

What’s more, Dr. Melanie Palm, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Art of Skin MD in Solana Beach, California, says to make sure your sunscreen is SPF 30 or higher. Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Face Serum SPF 60+ strikes the perfect balance between a high SPF and a lightweight, barely-there feel.

Also, consider the time of day you spent outdoors. “Seek shade and try to avoid being in direct sunlight from 10 am to 4 pm for outside activities when UV rays are most extreme,” she suggests.

You can also consider wearing UPF clothing of 50 or more in addition to your sunscreen, or taking a supplement that enhances UV light protection. Dr. Palm calls out Heliocare, which contains the plant polypodium leucotomos.

Use lightweight moisturizers

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Even though you’re sweatier in the summer, your skin still needs to be moisturized. However, since seasonal dryness isn’t common in the summertime, you don’t need a rich cream as you use in the winter.

“I’m all about putting away the petrolatum and thick moisturizers and switching to light hyaluronic acid-based moisturizers,” says Dr. Lal. “These moisturizers are great at maintaining hydration without making you feel sticky and heavy.” We’re fans of Laneige’s Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Cream Moisturizer, which includes various sizes of HA for better absorption.

Use non-comedogenic skincare products

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Clogged pores can lead to breakouts in the summer. An easy way to prevent sweat and oil from building up in your pores is to use non-comedogenic skincare and makeup products.

“I recommend looking for non-comedogenic products, meaning products that do not cause or contribute to breakouts,” Dr. Palm says. “Avoid deeply moisturizing or oily formulations during the summer months.”

To help keep pores clear, those with acne-prone and oily skin can incorporate ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, or niacinamide into their routines. “All of these ingredients help with acne and are anti-inflammatory,” Dr. Palm explains. “Just check with your M.D. if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as some of these are not appropriate for use.”

Wash your face diligently

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“Since you’re sweating more during the summer months due to outdoor activities or simply being more active, I also recommend washing your face up into your hairline as well — this area is usually overlooked, which can result in breakouts along the hairline or the outer edges of your face,” says Dr. Palm.

“This is when it’s time to bring out the big guns such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid-containing washes,” Dr. Lal adds. “These washes will unclog your pores and also kill off acne-producing bacteria.”

This is where a foaming or gel cleanser can come in. Dr. Garshick recommends SkinCeuticals Purifying Cleanser, which contains glycolic acid.

Use retinoid in moderation

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While there are no ingredients you should stop using in the summer, you may find you have to adapt how you use them. Retinoids are one such ingredient.

“Summer is when people start noticing more irritation from their retinol/retinoid. Retinols and retinoids make you more sensitive to the sun,” Dr. Lal explains. “It is for this reason, I recommend either reducing the frequency of use or being more aggressive about sunscreen.”

That being said, with extra sun protection, you can continue to use your retinoid or retinol. In fact, Dr. Garshick recommends a retinoid lotion such as Differin “to regulate skin cell turnover and prevent the pores from becoming clogged.”

The bottom line: Enjoy the gorgeous weather you’ve been waiting all year for — with these expert skincare tips in mind.

Gently exfoliate your skin

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Exfoliation is key to a smoother, brighter complexion, but do gently as the increased sun exposure takes a toll on skin.

“I think that everyone should exfoliate with a chemical exfoliant at least three times per week,” Dr. Corey L. Hartman, a Board-Certified Dermatologist previously told InStyle.

That said, it’s important to remember to only use these products at night and follow up with an SPF in the morning.