Spring Into Action: The Best Spring Routine For Your Skin
"Nothing is worse for skin than a long, cold winter -- the low humidity in conjunction with hot air, heat, and less fresh air often can leave your skin looking dull, dry, rough, and even wrinkled and older," says Cheryl Citron, MD, the former president of the New Jersey Dermatology Society. Spring cleaning doesn't just apply to your closet or your garage. The change in weather is a great opportunity to renew your beauty habits as well, sparking a revival. Hopefully the warmer days will inspire you to spring into a fresh, new routine that'll renew your skin after a dreary winter season and prepare it for the hot, muggy months to come.
Out With the Old, In With the New
Skincare products don't have an FDA required expiration date, but they do have a limited shelf life. Dermatologists recommend discarding your products every so often, once a year if they are applied near your lips or eyes. "Go through your cosmetics, products, and sunscreens, and toss the things that have been around a little too long," says Whitney Bowe, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. What better time for a reset than in the spring? Your makeup bag or carryall should be thoroughly washed, too. If it can't be tossed into the washing machine, use an antibacterial soap to clean it by hand.
In the winter your skin is much more sensitive, so a once-a-week exfoliation is plenty. Springtime exfoliation removes those old layers of skin that have glommed on over the long winter and will help topical treatments absorb into the skin better. "Just like you clean up your winter wardrobe, clean up your winter skin," says Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City and Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. "Bring out its brightness by exfoliating a little more in the spring." Using a gentle exfoliating scrub a few times a week will leave your skin looking smooth and radiant. Look for one that contains alpha-hydroxy or beta-hydroxy acid to rid your skin of those dull, dead cells. If you notice dryness, redness, or sensitivity, have a conversation with your dermatologist. A good full-body exfoliating scrub is one of the best things you can do before starting any hair removal treatments or faux tanning applications, according to beauty expert Claudia Spagnolo, director of the DeFranco Spagnolo Salon and Spa in Great Neck, N.Y. "If you use a mild natural ingredient like brown sugar to gently, and I repeat, gently rub your body several days before having a waxing or chemical hair removal, you'll loosen and remove dead skin cells, which will not only make your hair removal easier but also safer," says Spagnolo. You don't want to use any exfoliation products the day of your treatment - not even for your faux tan. Get your scrub on 24 to 48 hours before you get your tan on.
Speaking of the Sun
With the warmer weather and longer days, you'll be inclined to spend more time outside. It just feels good! Don't be lulled into a false sense of security just because the temperature isn't a boiling 85 degrees. Protecting yourself from the sun is just as important now as it is during the full heat of summer. In fact, harmful UV rays can still cause damage, even on a cloudy day. Protect yourself from both UVA and UVB rays by using a full-spectrum sunscreen that contains an SPF of at least 30. Think ahead and apply it 30 minutes before going outside to give it a chance to soak in, and re-apply it every two hours- more if you're swimming or sweating. Those UV rays can still find their way to your skin through your clothing! Ideally you should wear clothing rated to protect against sun damage. A wide brimmed hat will protect both your face and your neck.
Switch Up Your Routine
Beauty expert, Claudia Spagnolo advises, "Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing twice daily, every day, and then adding a facial steam with or without a mask about once weekly is probably one of the easiest ways to ease skin into spring and summer." "You need to know your skin type -- oily, dry, sensitive, acne-prone, or menopausal -- and then choose the mildest cleanser you can find in whatever category you fit into," says Heidi Waldorf, MD, director of dermatologic laser surgery at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She advises taking the same approach when finding a mask. "You just have to know what you want to accomplish -- like tightening pores, reducing oiliness, adding moisture -- and then choose the masque suited for that problem," Waldorf tells WebMD.