I'm a Summer-Skincare Expert—Here Are the 30 Essentials I Always Buy on Sale


Who What Wear

Summer is my season. Maybe it's because I was born during this time of the year (that Capricorn moon jumps out sometimes, but I'm a true Cancer), or maybe the sun just gets my sleepy skin cells buzzing after months of cooler weather, but I've always had an affinity for knowing exactly what my skin needs and wants as soon as Memorial Day hits. As a beauty editor, I've been lucky enough to interface with the best dermatologists and skincare experts on everything from chemical peels to skin tightening, but the truth is I had summertime skincare on lock well before my career called for talking shop with the best in the business. 

Transitioning your skincare routine to serve you during a new season can be a pricey endeavor, which is why one of my annual traditions it to stalk beauty sales starting around May to stock up on all the cleansers, serums, and moisturizers I'll need to get me through the dog days of summer. This year, there are three epic sales happening all at once that are making this summer skincare haul easier and more affordable than ever. Beauty e-tailers Violet Grey, Dermstore, and SkinStore are each holding big-time Memorial Day savings events, and the deals are good.

Being the summer-skincare enthusiast I am, I'm sharing the best deals from each of these epic sales to get your summer shopping list started. Ahead, check out the must-have items you can't skip if you plan to keep your skin happy, healthy, and glowing all summer long. 

Violet Grey

The Best Summer Skincare Essentials to Buy at Violet Grey



The deal: From May 19 through 25, Violet Grey is offering savings of  $15 off orders of  $100 or more, $50 off orders of $250 or more, $100 off orders of $500 or more, and $250 off $1000 or more on hundreds of must-have beauty items.

The cleansing gel:

It's official: My friends are tired of hearing me rave about this cleanser. It is one of the best I've ever used by a long shot—and that's coming from someone who refused to spend more than $10 on cleanser for most of my life. This one sets itself apart by gripping dirt and makeup with an oil-like slip while simultaneously lathering into a gentle, silky foam that leaves the skin feeling squeaky-clean but not stripped or lifeless. It's the perfect cleanser for summer and all year around.

The cleansing oil:

While it might seem counterintuitive, skin experts maintain that the right oils can solve any number of skincare woes, even for those with oily skin. If you're a fan of double-cleansing, this dry oil is a great first step. It's infused with rose-hip CO2 extract, which is chock-full of antioxidants and omegas-3, -6, -7, and -9 to nourish and protect the skin while drawing out grime and excess sebum.

The treatment essence:

This pricey liquid is world-famous for a reason, and snagging it on sale is the way to go. It's loaded with Pitera, SK-II's proprietary fermented ingredient cultured exclusively in Japan. It gently exfoliates the face and helps it retain hydration by mimicking the skin's natural moisturizing factors. The result is soft, supple, and even skin.

The all-in-one serum:

This miracle serum doesn't rely on magic but rather advanced-ingredient-encapsulating technology to make a major difference in your skin. It delivers antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E, and retinol in a way that targets only damaged skin cells. Healthy skin cells are left to do what they do best on their own, meaning you won't experience any purging or irritation. I use it in the evenings to combat fine lines, refine pores, and brighten my skin overnight.

The vitamin C serum:

IS Clinical is one of those unicorn brands that churn out nothing but hits. Celebrity facialist Shani Darden agrees and touts its Pro-Heal Serum as a must-have. Its hero ingredient is vitamin C in the form of 15% L-ascorbic acid, but it also contains mild amounts of retinol, moisturizing vitamin E, and soothing olive leaf extract.

The skin barrier protector:

The delicate outermost layer of the skin, the skin barrier, is like a shield that defends our entire bodies from environmental pollutants. Given this, you can imagine how important it is to keep it healthy and thriving. This genius serum does just that by combining ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids to support the skin's integrity while encouraging balance and moisture.

The resurfacing mask:

This jelly mask is unlike any other out there. It spreads evenly over the skin and dries down to a taut second skin while BHA from willow bark and pomegranate enzymes go to work to break down dead skin. After 20 minutes, your mug will be instantly decongested, refined, and glowy. 

The cooling mask:

Even when your entire skincare routine is on point, long days spent in the summer sun or just sitting by large windows can wreak havoc on the skin. This modeling mask is the perfect solution to soothe and hydrate even the most irritated skin. It has professional-grade algin and hyaluronic acid that coat the skin in a thick, cooling layer to deliver its soothing elements and improve the skin’s capacity to retain hydration.

The eye patches:

Hydrogel eye masks are a great way to make sure the delicate skin around your eyes stays moisturized, even in the face of increased sun exposure. These Erno Laszlo ones help to combat dark circles, puffiness, fine lines, and wrinkles with algae extract, vitamin B3, amino acids, and allantoin. I keep mine in the refrigerator for an extra cooling, de-puffing kick.

The SPF mist:

We're all well aware by now that sunscreen is a nonnegotiable skincare step, but many are still lapsing in the reapplication department. This multi-use spray is perfect for making sure your SPF protection can be quickly and easily refreshed anywhere, any time. It also functions as a great makeup-setting spray.


The Best Summer Skincare Essentials to Buy at Dermstore



The deal: From May 19 through 27, Dermstore is offering 10% to 20% off sitewide, with double loyalty points on selected brands with code SUMMER.

The face massager:

When summertime situations like excess daytime rosé or dehydration creep in, this facial massager is the key to getting things back on track. Puffy, bloated cheeks are no match for this multi-angle roller, which fits into the contours of your face and employs a small solar panel that transforms both sunlight and indoor light into microcurrents that are then emitted into the skin as you roll.

The hyaluronic acid serum:

I started using this serum after it was recommended to me by a trusted facialist, but I continued to use it because of the visible effects I started to see in my skin. I've admittedly strayed from this one (hey, I'm a beauty editor with a burden of choice!), but every time I return, I'm reminded what an incredible product it really is. In a world where there are HA serums that cost less than $10, it might be hard to believe that a pricey version is really worth it. Like many of the other spendy options out there, this serum contains HA at three different molecular weights to hydrate the skin at different levels simultaneously. This one also contains the powerful antioxidant resveratrol to smooth fine lines and wrinkles and combat dark spots.

The collagen-stimulating supplement:

It's widely known that collagen is the essential building block in our skin that keeps it looking plump and youthful. For those looking for yet another way to stimulate collagen synthesis, this bio-fermented, probiotic elixir is one to consider. It contains an organic, concentrated blend of maqui berry, açaí, papaya, blueberry, goji berry, and pomegranate powders with grape-seed extract, zinc, and vitamin C to support your body's natural collagen production from within.

The texture perfectors:

Not only is this duo a cost-effective way to try out two of Sunday Riley's best SKUs, but it's also a killer combination that will actually transform your skin. Before I started using these two wonder products regularly, I was up against bumpy, uneven skin ravaged by marks leftover from a persistent hormonal acne battle. Continued use of these secret weapons revealed the best skin I'd seen in years. It was smooth, even, and softer than I knew my skin could ever feel.

The anitoxidant serum:

Grapes are a tasty summer treat and are even better for your skin. This luxe serum (a bottle of which sells every 30 seconds around the world) corrects dark spots and evens out the skin tone using Caudalie's patented grapevine sap compound and moisturizes and soothes the skin with organic grape water, olive squalane, and chamomile.

The resurfacing peel:

This gentle toner uses both lactic and azelaic acids to brighten and balance the skin and refine the look of pores all in one swipe.

The physical exfoliator:

There aren't many physical exfoliators that get top marks from me these days, but this one has remained at the top of my list come hell or high water. It sloughs away dead skin and debris using uniformly sized and shaped minerals and potent enzymes that warm as you gently buff them into the skin. Aside from using it on the face, this luxe skin polish is also perfect for exfoliating under the arms to prime them for increased shaving during the warmer months. I'm sure it would be equally effective on the legs, but the price tag has hindered me from testing that theory!

The foolproof cream:

This beloved moisturizer is suitable for even the most sensitive (or sensitized) skin types, as it's formulated with colloidal oatmeal, an FDA-designated skin protectant meant to relieve itching and minor irritation caused by any number of skin conditions. Shea butter and ceramides infuse intense moisture and help to support the delicate skin barrier.

The tightening eye ceam:

Fight sleepy eyes before they even start with this rejuvenating eye cream. My fellow beauty editor Erin Jahns is a fan, citing its darkness- and puff-reducing abilities as the main reason she loves it.

The derm-approved SPF:

I've raved about this dermatologist-approved facial sunscreen more times than I can count at this point, and I'll never stop singing its praises. From the gentle formulation to the actually clear wear, it's an all-around winner that I keep stocked year-round.


The Best Summer Skincare Essentials to Buy at SkinStore



The deal: From May 20 through 26, SkinStore is offering 15% to 30% off sitewide on selected brands.

The microcurrent device:

Microcurrent tools are all the rage, but their hefty price tags keep them just out of reach for most (including yours truly—unless they're on sale). This handheld toning device is the perfect one to get started with. It delivers microcurrent pulses to visibly tone the facial muscles, even the skin tone, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The superfood cleanser:

Wheatgrass, kale, and nettle aren't just ingredients you'll find in a fancy green juice. They're some of the nutrient-dense goodness found in this balancing cleanser. They work in tandem with broccoli seed oil, avocado oil, pumpkin seed oil, and a sugar-derived prebiotic to thoroughly cleanse and nourish the skin.

The cleansing oil capsules:

These biodegradable capsules hold within them the most luxe blend of omega fatty acids and botanical oils to draw impurities out of the skin and support its hydration. Eucalyptus, clove, Egyptian chamomile, and hops dissolve impurities and keep the skin hydrated for hours.

The cleansing water:

As you may have surmised from the cult-favorite brand name (and the price tag), this isn't just any micellar water. The mineral-rich concoction employs rosemary, sage, lavender, artemisia princeps leaf, ginger root, and perilla ocymoides to cleanse, nourish, and protect the skin. 

The gentle peel:

Chemical peels aren't always safe for nursing and expectant mothers, but this one is. It's a gentler version of Juice Beauty's original Green Apple Peel, only it's formulated without vitamin A. Malic and glycolic acids gently exfoliate, while vitamin C brightens, and glycerine and aloe vera soothe and hydrate.

The soothing gel mask:

This soothing mask is a summertime essential if I ever saw one. It's perfect for soothing the skin after sun exposure, combining cucumber, papaya, chamomile, pineapple, and aloe vera to calm and cool. It's also great to use after potentially skin-irritating practices like peels, extractions, and waxing.

The sheet mask set:

My love of sheet masks is well documented, and they're a staple I always seek out when shopping beauty sales. This comprehensive set by Karuna contains a mask for everything from hydrating to anti-aging and even one for exfoliating with citric acid. 

The vitamin C serum:

My motto? More vitamin C! Okay, so I don't march through the streets singing about the stuff, but this formulation from Obagi kind of makes me want to do just that. It combines L-ascorbic acid with hyaluronic acid to visibly plump the skin while brightening the complexion and evening out hyperpigmentation.

The multi-use facial spray:

Whether you're taking in some fresh air or prepping your skin for makeup, this multi-use thermal water mist is the refreshing skincare step you can't skip, especially during the summer. This particular solution is rich with over 15 rare minerals to soothe and nurture the skin.

The anti-inflammatory moisturizer:

Inflammatory skin conditions like acne can be exacerbated by everything from diet to intense sun exposure, so this niacinamide and antioxidant-packed skin cream is perfect for keeping the skin calm. It's suitable for oily and breakout-prone skin.