An Expert Just Told Me About the 5 Game-Changing Products for Brilliant Summer Skin

It's official, summer is (technically) here, and with the warmer months comes an increase in humidity and UV exposure that can make skin feel oilier and trigger flare-ups of hyperpigmentation, sun spots, and melasma. This is a totally different ball game to simply keeping skin well hydrated during the winter, but the good news is that keeping skin calm and balanced is totally achievable—all it takes is an understanding of how your skin’s behaviour changes in the summer.

According to facialist and skincare expert Tarryn Warren skin typically looks its best in the beginning of summer. “The heat brings more moisture to the surface and natural vitamin D in the skin sometimes helps to heal and improve some conditions like acne or eczema,” she explains. “However the first rays do catch a lot of clients out when they are still stuck on active winter routines and red noses, and peeling skin can also feature.”

Summer skincare essentials

(Image credit: @vikilefevre)

As the summer progresses and we reach July and August, skin pigment is normally at its highest. “Clients tend to notice their melasma, freckles or sun spots the most by this point,” says Warren. “Also as the months accumulate so does the loading up of extra sunblock, heat, and pollution. Over time this starts to clog and block the skin resulting in more blackheads and spots. Makeup and hot days don't go well together and this can start to increase acneic conditions.”

Of course, sunscreen is essential, especially during the summer months, but now’s the time to set aside the rich creams or oils that you may have been using during the winter. “I always suggest my clients lighten up their daytime routine,” adds Warren. "It's okay to skip a moisturiser in extreme heat and just stick to hyaluronic acid and sunblocks.” She also advises moving all actives (such as exfoliating acids and retinoids) to the evening so you don't need to panic about what is photosensitive or not.

If you find that your skin freaks out whenever the seasons change, you’re not alone—and don’t worry, you don’t need an entire new skincare routine. A few small tweaks can make a huge difference. Scroll down to discover our summer skincare essentials.

1. Clay Masks

To combat increased congestion and oiliness during the summer, Warren advises masking on a regular basis. “A clay mask can be really helpful for drawing out blocked debris—they’re amazing if you want to keep pores clean,” she says. Look for masks that use soft clays which won’t irritate skin or strip moisture, or that contain soothing ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal and squalane. Avoid over-masking—just once a week is enough to keep on top of congestion—and follow up with a soothing mist or gel mask to cool and rehydrate skin.

2. SPF, Everywhere

This one may sound like a no-brainer, but in addition to the regular sunscreen you apply on your face every single day, now’s the time to think about the areas that may be missing out on UV protection. Our ears, lips, scalp, and delicate eye area are easily missed but get a lot of sun exposure, so are prone to damage and burning. These days there are eye creams, lip balms, and even hair mists that contain SPF, so it’s easy to ensure you’re covered, from head to toe.

3. Light Moisturisers

Rich creams and oils serve skin well in the winter when exposure to cold weather and central heating damages the skin barrier and causes sensitivity and dryness. In the summer, consider switching to light, gel-textured and water-based moisturisers which hydrate skin without feeling heavy or looking greasy.

4. Azelaic Acid

Exfoliating acids help with brightening and smoothing skin, but do increase skin’s photosensitivity, making it more susceptible to sun damage. If you want to keep using acids through the summer, Warren recommends reaching for an azelaic acid serum to help maintain the benefits without sensitising skin. Azelaic Acid works by directly impacting the upper layers of the skin, ‘telling’ the skin cells how to behave in order to improve overall skin health and texture. Plus, it’s an especially beneficial ingredient to use during the summer months as it’s incredibly soothing, and can help to fade hyperpigmentation and redness.

5. Hydrating Layers

While skin may feel oilier during the summer, it’s important to maintain hydration to keep skin balance and prevent oil production from going into overdrive. Consider layering a hydrating mist or serum beneath your moisturiser, or using a hydrating gel mask a few times a week. If you are particularly oily-skinned and moisturisers feel too heavy for your skin during the summer, Warren recommends using a hyaluronic acid based serum instead.

Freelance Beauty Editor

Grace Day is a beauty editor and content creator. She has over 10 years of beauty-industry experience, spanning editorial, retail, and e-commerce, which gives her a unique understanding into how people shop for their beauty routines. While studying for a history degree (specialising in the history of beauty) and working as a beauty adviser in department stores, Grace started writing her own beauty blog in order to share the products she discovered while dealing with acne. After graduating, she moved to Beauty Bay as beauty editor and content manager. Grace is currently a beauty contributor to Who What Wear. She has also written for Hypebae and PopSugar and works as a brand consultant and copywriter.