Three Skincare Principles to Navigate the Entire Year
1. Consistency is key. Think of skincare like fitness. You won’t see results if you don’t stick to the regimen every day, and the ultimate goal is lifetime wellness. The more work you put into your skincare routine on a daily basis, the better you’ll look over time. Yes, you might fall short on any random day, but the fact that you’re putting in the effort and following your plan will ensure that you achieve your goals. It might take months to notice certain results, and even then, the routine needs to be maintained.
2. Your lifestyle impacts your skin. Don’t divorce your skin from the rest of your body. Your skin can be a reliable indicator of your general health. Look to the principles of overall wellness to maintain healthy skin: get lots of sleep, stay hydrated, cut back on vices, exercise regularly, and so forth. Your skincare regimen may need to evolve based on some habits—and we’ll get into that later. But don’t go into thinking that a moisturizer and eye cream will wipe away countless sleepless nights nor counter a nutrient-deficient diet.
3. Play defense as much as offense. Many people think of skincare as “having a good offense”. However, it’s actually the reverse: Much of skincare is a response to the environment around you, and the situations you put yourself in (like hitting the gym, traveling frequently, working long hours etc). You want to prevent moisture loss in your skin, and prevent harmful toxins from entering. Thus, you need to adjust your regimen to counter the changes, especially keeping in mind the sun, air pollution, and humidity/dryness. (If you want the simplest skincare defense strategy, then here goes: After cleansing, apply an SPF moisturizer every morning year round, and swap in a nighttime moisturizer before bed. You can do a lot better than that, but you should also do no less.)
Seasonal Skincare Shifts
Here are some ways you should alter your skincare regimen with the seasons. Note that it focuses on the baseline regimen, since your targeted treatments and advanced products aren’t typically altered for the weather.
Winter: The air is colder and dryer. So, it tries to pull moisture from wherever water can be found, including your skin. This means you need to up your moisturizer game, perhaps by lathering on an extra layer. (You can layer a lightweight gel moisturizer under an SPF daytime one, for example, or apply more moisturizer than usual before bed.) Weekly hydrating masks will work wonders on moisture maintenance. Take shorter, mild showers to prevent additional moisture loss (long and/or hot showers strip the natural oils in skin), and sleep with a humidifier on in the bedroom. Doesn’t hurt to keep it running during the day, either, if you’re working from home. Oh, and we can’t say it enough, don’t ditch the SPF during daylight hours. UV rays don’t migrate for the winter.
Spring: Your SPF coverage increases with the longer, more intense sunlight, and will continue into summer. Whenever you go outside and there’s daylight, you should have some degree of SPF coverage on your face to prevent things like fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, elasticity degradation, etc. This is most easily obtained through an SPF moisturizer, and will ensure that you also have adequate defense against pollution and other toxins your skin is exposed to. By April, you can ditch the humidifier until November, and lighten up on the moisturizer layering, especially if you have oily skin. Lastly, you might notice a slight uptick in one-off blemishes. That’s quite possibly caused by the seasonal shift, which can confuse the skin given the shift in environmental moisture and your own pore’s sebum production. It’s a good time to stock up on pimple patches, to make sure these sprouting spots don’t turn into a full-blown pimple.
Summer: You might need to increase your cleansing game, if you get too sweaty or oily throughout the day. Do this with a hydrating, gentle cleanser that won’t throw off your pH levels. (A daily toning wipe, applied after cleansing, will help balance oil production, by the way.) And always follow a cleanse with an SPF moisturizer—one that won’t clog pores or weigh down on your skin during these humid months. Obviously, your SPF game needs to be at its best all season long. Also, your lightweight nighttime moisturizer can (and should) still be worn in summer, particularly if you sleep with an air conditioner in your room, which is extremely drying for skin. Even if you sleep without an air conditioner, a light layer of moisturizer should suffice. (Remember, consistency is key. Your regimen doesn’t have an off season.) Keeping the skin adequately moisturized will help prevent excess oil and shine on during the warmer months.
Fall: Inverse of spring, this shoulder season builds towards colder, dryer weather. Have the humidifier ready for the house, don’t miss a week’s moisture mask application, and get ready to wear heavier or layered moisturizers as winter approaches. Keep the SPF handy, of course—by now, you know it’s a perennial effort.
How to Plan Skincare Around Regular Habits
Certain behaviors like routine exercising and frequent travel can throw a wrench in our daily or weekly skincare regimens. Here are a few tips on navigating those situations.
On the days you work out:
Instead of just washing your face and moisturizing both day and night, you also need to do so before and after exercising. Even if you work out first thing in the morning or last thing before bed, you still need to “clean the canvas” before you sweat, to minimize the sebum or product buildup on your face, and to in turn prevent clogged pores.
Pre-workout: The best thing to do is to use a gentle, hydrating cleanser that nourishes as it cleans, followed by a lightweight moisturizer (SPF-packed if you exercise outside or to protect against UV exposure throughout the day). A lightweight moisturizer won’t clog the pores, won’t aggravate sweating, and will keep skin nourished post cleanse.
Post-workout: Follow your exercise with another cleansing and moisturizing. With your pores so active and sweat production at a high, it helps to tone the skin post-workout, too, to mitigate oil levels and calm stressed-out skin. Cardon’s toning wipes also dissolve dead skin cells and clean out the pores, to prevent breakouts.
Read more: Skincare for active lifestyles
Of course, you’ll want to use products that travel well; under 3.4 oz. is key if you aren’t checking a bag. But more importantly, you need to compensate for the dry airplane air, multiplied by however many hours you spend suspended up there.
Before flying: Give your face a thorough cleanse and re-hydration before flying (we’re not above doing this in an airport restroom—it’s better than doing so in an airplane restroom).
While traveling: Then, tote along some toning wipes to give yourself an on-the-go cleanse after you de-board, followed by another lightly moisturizing layer.
Once you’ve arrived: Pay attention to the environmental conditions of your destination too, like humidity, sun intensity, pollution levels, and lather on moisturizers (or lightly so) based on these factors. (And based on the seasonal shifts we discussed above.)
Read more: Skincare tips for traveling
while under stress:
Stress is a big foe of healthy, youthful skin. It causes breakouts and quickly yields dark undereye circles or puffy bags. If you experience stress long term without a fix—perhaps a particularly barraging 9-5 (or 9-9, if you’re unlucky)—then the problems multiply, leading to increased wrinkling and fine lines, loss of elasticity in the skin, rough patches, dark spots, acne scars, and so forth. Basically, stress ages the skin. And so you need a regimen that helps counter its impact.
Weekly mask treatments will help you rebound regularly. Daily eye creams will counter immediate and long term signs of stress. Exfoliation and toning will prevent dullness, roughness, and breakouts. Acne spot treatments will prevent blemishes from turning into unsightly volcanoes. And of course, a regular skincare regimen will do wonders for preventing long term damage.