Post-summer skin can often be dull and dehydrated, so here’s how to bring your glow back
A long summer exposed to the sun and heat can take its toll, causing dry, congested and sun-damaged skin. So, as your summer glow fades, leaving your complexion looking dull, mottled and dehydrated, it’s time to address the damage and take some steps to rejuvenate your skincare. “The typical signs of summer-damaged skin are redness, roughness and increased pigmentation,” dermatologist Dr Shaaira Nasir explains. Together with temperature change, air conditioning and pollution, your skin is challenged during the warmer months and now is the time to super-charge your moisture levels and give your skin that extra bit of TLC.
Decongest Your Pores
Applying sunscreen on your face can clog your pores, so even if you avoid a burn, you still might be left with a bit of congested facial skin. High temperatures mean you’re sweating more than usual, and that can create further blockage. “Post-summer, I always have a buildup of dry skin and congestion from sun exposure and heavy sunscreens, so I exfoliate more. I use a gentle exfoliating lotion, like Augustinus Bader The Essence, every night, along with a gentle scrub two to three times a week,” explains Dr Nasir. “This eliminates the buildup of dead cells to brighten the skin, and ensures my serums and hydrators penetrate effectively.”
Keeping skin clear will help eliminate breakouts, and this is best achieved through double cleansing. That means washing your face twice with two different skincare products. The first cleanse will remove products and sunscreen, and the second will clean away dirt, impurities and dead skin cells. For your first cleanse, choose something that will absorb sunscreen and make-up products, like an oil-based cleanser or a micellar cleansing water, such as La Mer The Cleansing Micellar Water, followed by a physical or chemical exfoliation. If you’re suffering from breakouts, try an acne-fighting salicylic or benzoyl peroxide product until your skin clears. Dr Dennis Gross Acne Eliminating Pads and Paula’s Choice Exfoliate are good for unwanted blemishes, although if you feel you need a deeper cleanse, opt for a clay-based mask that will help purify your pores even more.
Hydrate Dry Skin
If you seek relief from the heat by heading indoors where it’s air conditioned, your skin will instantly become dehydrated, so you should focus on finding a skincare routine that can help combat the dryness and super-charge your skin’s moisture levels. Start with a lightweight moisturiser for daytime – one formulated with hyaluronic acid, like Tata Harper Hyaluronic Gel Moisturiser, will give the ultimate hydration.
Alternatively, supplement your normal skincare regime with Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster. “I use hyaluronic acid throughout the summer as a serum, but post-summer I go for a cream with hyaluronic acid and look for products with ceramides, as these are the main lipids in our skin barrier, and reduce as we get older,” says dermatologist Dr Zainab Laftah. It’s important to know the difference between hydrating the skin and moisturising it. If your skin is dry and you use hyaluronic acid, but see no difference, then your skin barrier is compromised – there’s nothing to seal it in the skin. This is where the moisturising lipids, or ceramides, come in, keeping hydration sealed inside the skin.
As the weather gets cooler, ceramides and hyaluronic acid go hand-in- hand, and Elizabeth Arden’s Advanced Ceramide Capsules support natural collagen growth and increase moisture for a well-balanced complexion. In the evening, you can opt for a regenerative, richer moisturiser, such as Dr Barbara Sturm Rich Face Cream.
“Irregular pigmentation gets worse in the summer, no matter how good you are with sun protection, so you may want to add an anti-pigment serum into your regime if you’re not already using one, and good over-the-counter anti-pigment ingredients include arbutin and kojic acid,” explains dermatologist Dr Adeline Kikam. Otherwise, try a course of MZ Skin Pigmentation Correcting Ampoules, which work deep into the dermis to minimise the appearance of hyperpigmentation, melasma and age spots. If you have more severe discolouration, you may want to talk to your dermatologist about Fraxel, a laser that can help smooth skin, and eliminate sunspots and wrinkles.
Vitamin C serums are another great option to help reduce pigmentation, brighten skin and give it a dewy glow, and Dr Barbara Sturm The Good C is ideal for adding to your morning routine to even out your skin tone. If you pair it with Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster, you can treat the post-summer erythema you get on lighter skin tones and the hyperpigmentation from breakouts, or even bug bites, on darker skin tones, as these two ingredients can take down the redness. Niacinamide is also effective if you have oily skin, as it’s shown to be good at regulating sebum. Plus, it helps the skin barrier and brightens every complexion.
Nourishing facial oils are true post-summer salves too, as being rich in fatty acids, they help to restore any damage while reconditioning the skin. But anything you do topically needs to be used for a whole skin cycle, and that’s anything from four to eight weeks, depending on your age. When heading back in the sun, layer Institut Esthederm’s Unifying Protective Care with your usual SPF, as it works to promote an even tan – great if you have pigment irregularities. Enriched with Global Cellular Protection technology, this fast-absorbing formula helps to reduce the contrast of dark spots, so you end up with a smoother, more regular shade.
Treat Sun Damage
Sun damage occurs from the accumulative exposure of unprotected skin on a daily basis, as well as being over-exposed to the sun at any one time. You may have been super careful this summer, reapplying your sunscreen, but even the best of us can get sunburnt skin. If you are suffering from a sunburn, it will need help healing, so choose an ultra-hydrating sunburn treatment to soothe and repair you skin. Sisley After-Sun Care nourishes and hydrates, while reducing sensations of heat.
“Sun damage is not just about sunburn,” shares skin aesthetician Melanie Grant. “It’s about the long-term damage to the skin,” and this can result in premature ageing and residual damage in the form of hyperpigmentation. Beyond topical products like the brightening Irene Forte Enzymatic Face Peel, chemical peels and laser can help ameliorate the ageing effects of sun damage. The regular use of an AHA or BHA exfoliant, such as Lixirskin Night Switch, will help to restore radiance, smoothness and even tone. Light therapy, or LED treatments, can also benefit the effects of sun damage. Devices originally developed for astronauts to help with tissue healing and repair are now extolled for all kinds of cosmetic skin rejuvenation, including treating dark spots and uneven skin tone. At-home masks will not be as strong as the LED in a clinic setting, but they do have similar benefits, with The Light Salon Light Therapy Face Mask being a great replica of an in-salon experience.
Additionally, certain in-clinic treatments, such as mesotherapy, will complement your routine for the summer. Mesotherapy nourishes the skin from the inside to help protect and repair low-grade sun damage, as it often contains a high-grade mix of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and peptides.
- Words by Eliza Scarborough