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Spring is in full bloom — just ask your skin (and likely your allergies). While the season is a welcome change to the frigid winter temperatures, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows — because the change in weather might be wreaking havoc on your face. That’s why it’s key to switch up your skin care routine for spring (just as you should be doing in the fall).
“Your skin care routine may need specific tweaks for seasonal changes,” says Dr. Kautilya Shaurya, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group. “The reason for this is that different seasons bring different environmental factors that can affect your skin.” Just a few simple tweaks can leave your skin happy, healthy, and downright glowing for the warmer weather, but the absolute most important thing you can do is slather on some SPF. “If you’re not using sunscreen all year — which you should be — definitely start using it ASAP as you start getting outside more,” says Dr. Geeta Yadav, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Facet Dermatology.
Bustle asked three board-certified dermatologists, one cosmetic nurse, and one celebrity esthetician for their tips and tricks, besides SPF, for successfully transitioning your beauty routine for spring — keep scrolling for your comprehensive warm-weather skin care guide.
1. Swap Out Your Cleanser
Springtime means changing skin, which calls for swapping out the foundation of your skin care routine: your cleanser. “If your skin is dry, oily, combination, or any other type and you live in an area with changing seasons, you’ll want to switch things up,” says Yadav. “Consider using a gel or foam cleanser instead of a creamier one, which will better cut through oil buildup this time of year.”
Celebrity esthetician Taylor Worden also suggests double cleansing with a cleansing oil and following up with a light, non-irritating cleanser (she’s a fan of Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser) so that your skin is thoroughly free of any debris before you do the rest of your routine.
2. Start (Or Continue) Exfoliating
If you weren’t exfoliating in the winter because you found it too drying, now is a good time to start. Yadav recommends using a skin-resurfacing product or treatment a few times a week to help your skin cells turn over and reveal a brighter complexion. “Spring is a great time to exfoliate and brighten the dull skin that has accumulated during the winter,” adds Dr. Hadley King, M.D., FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist. She recommends either (or both) chemical and physical exfoliation be incorporated into your spring skin care routine for the job.
Lynn Wojton, R.N., cosmetic nurse and founder of Center Aesthetic & Dermatology, is a fan of physical exfoliants to buff off “old, dull winter skin.” To avoid irritation, she recommends washing your face with a gentle cleanser, rinsing it off, and leaving your skin damp. From there, apply the exfoliant and gently buff it with your fingertips in circular motions, working from the forehead and going all the way down to the decolletage. Then, hop in the shower and rinse the dead skin cells away. “Showering afterward is key,” says Wojton, noting that it helps minimize the mess and makes removal simple — a common woe with physical exfoliants. (She’s a fan of the ZO Exfoliating Polish for this process.)
3. Slather On SPF, Of Course
Every single expert’s first and foremost recommendation is to use sunscreen — no matter the day or weather. Plus, today’s SPF formulas are sleek, nourishing, and undetectable, so they’re a breeze to incorporate into your routine.
While you’re at it, be sure to extend your spring cleaning to your sunscreens, too. “Spring is the perfect time to audit your sunscreen collection, making sure to toss anything expired,” says Wojton.
4. Lighten Up Your Moisturizer
Perhaps one of the most vital switches from winter to spring is your daily moisturizer. “When the weather is cold and dry, you need to use good emollients and occlusives to reduce transepidermal water loss,” says Shaurya. “As the temperatures and humidity increase, you may not need such heavy occlusives to keep your skin moisturized, and heavy products may feel sticky and greasy.” Lighter lotions (ideally gel-based) with humectants and emollients will feel better, notes Shaurya. That said, Yadav recommends those with drier skin keep a thicker formula in their evening regimens to make sure their skin is getting the nourishment it needs.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, oily skin may find moisturizers altogether too heavy during the day — but that doesn’t mean you should skip hydration altogether. (This can cause the skin to overproduce sebum to combat the dryness, potentially leading to clogged pores and blemishes.) Worden suggests switching out your moisturizer for a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum. Pro tip: Spritz a facial mist first so your skin is damp and better able to soak up the serum.
5. Protect With Antioxidants
Another tried-and-true spring skin care must? Antioxidants. “Antioxidants can help protect your skin from environmental damage and brighten your complexion,” says Shaurya. They can be used year-round but are particularly helpful during the spring and summer when you’re looking to avoid sun damage and hyperpigmentation, says King. “When the skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun, free radicals are generated that can damage DNA and accelerate the breakdown of collagen and elastin,” she explains. “Topical antioxidants, like vitamin C, can donate electrons to stabilize the free radicals and decrease sun damage.” Look for products that contain vitamin C or green tea extract, suggests Shaurya. Niacinamide also provides antioxidant-like effects.
6. Consider In-Office Treatments
If you’re looking for a fresh restart this spring, few things can compare to an in-office treatment. “The absolute best non-invasive thing you can do for your skin this spring is Fraxel,” says Wojton. “It’s a game changer when it comes to the appearance of the skin.” Microneedling, chemical peels, and radiofrequency are other pro-level treatments that can leave your complexion looking fresh for the new season.
Shop Spring-Friendly Skin Care
An Acne-Defying Cleanser
This gel cleanser from iS Clinical is lightweight but powerful enough to cut through makeup and excess sebum, all without irritating sensitive skin. Its blend of antioxidants, botanicals, and mild resurfacing agents deep cleans while also softening and giving the appearance of smaller pores. It’s especially great for blemish-prone skin, but all skin types will have success with this cleanser come spring and beyond.
An Impossibly Easy SPF
Supergoop’s sunscreens are an industry fave for a reason. Yadav is a fan of the best-selling (and totally invisible) Unseen Sunscreen, which has a gel formula that can help minimize the look of pores without leaving a white cast or greasy feel. But if you’re looking for more of a lit-from-within glow, grab the brand’s Glowscreen, which comes in four shades and a pearlescent tint that illuminates the complexion. The SPF also has skin-boosting ingredients (including hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin B5), making it a formula that successfully combines skin care, makeup, and sun protection in one swipe.
The Reapplication-Friendly SPF
Consider keeping this SPF mist by buzzy sunscreen brand Vacation on hand all spring and summer long. The broad-spectrum SPF 50 spray makes midday reapplication not only easy, but chic and fun. Its invisible formula means it won’t disturb makeup, too.
An Easy-to-Use Exfoliant
For a radiant glow, try Dr. Dennis Gross’s Daily Peel Pads, which include the ideal amount of chemical exfoliation — featuring both alpha and beta hydroxy acids — in a single peel pad. “They are gentle enough for daily use and only require two steps through convenient, saturated wipes, and you don’t have to rinse the skin afterward,” says Yadav.
A Lightweight, Derm-Approved Moisturizer
As the weather warms up, a lighter moisturizer will keep your skin from feeling oily, notes Shaurya. Both he and King are fans of this fragrance-free facial moisturizer from Ghost Democracy — not only for its lightweight texture, but also its inventive formula, which includes probiotics, niacinamide, panthenol, and oat seed extract. It balances your skin barrier, calms redness, and minimizes the appearance of pores.
A Skin-Brightening Antioxidant
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more efficacious antioxidant serum than BeautyStat’s Universal C Skin Refiner. Crafted by seasoned cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson, the product contains 20% vitamin C (specifically L-ascorbic acid, the strongest form of the antioxidant), green tea extract, squalane, and tartaric acid. The 20% is the highest percentage of pure vitamin C allowed in skin care products, which means the formula is potent and results-oriented — and your glow will prove it.
Okoro, E. (2015). Study of Facial Sebum Levels and Follicular Red Fluorescence in Patients with Acne Vulgaris in Nigeria. Dermatology. https://doi.org/10.1159/000439378
Dr. Kautilya Shaurya, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group
Dr. Hadley King, M.D.-FAAD, board-certified dermatologist