Just in time for spring cleaning, now is a good time to manipulate your skin care regimen to fit the changing environment. In the spring, we are transitioning from a mainly inside “protected” environment with its own problems to more frequent outside environmental exposures. The increasing sun exposure, warm weather, humidity, and environmental pollutants necessitate a fresh look at your skin care products and application.
The inside environment we are exposed to in the winter is dry from indoor central heating and has an abundance of artificial lighting. Winter requires increasing your hydration of the skin that is obtained with cream cleaners and heavy duty moisturizers. Retinols will typically cause dryness in colder weather and therefore either retinol strength or frequency of application or both are decreased. The skin is also exposed to more artificial lighting in the winter that produces low energy ultraviolet radiation (UVR). This exposure increases the potential for photo-oxidative damage. Therefore your “UV protection” in the winter may be in the form of a liquid or cream “sun block”.
As spring approaches and sun exposure, humidity, and outdoor activities all increase, it is best to address these changes in your environment. In warm weather, there is increased sweat and oil gland production. Both of these work to clog pores therefore it is important to increase exfoliation to remove built up sweat, oil, and skin debris. Physical exfoliation may be an important addition to your routine. Also an increase in retinol strength and/or frequency of application can now be employed to dry the skin in the more humid summer conditions.
There are a number of reasons to use “medical grade” Vitamin C on the skin year around but its application is more important in the summer. “Medical grade” vitamin C should be labeled “L-ascorbic acid” not Vitamin C. L-ascorbic acid is extremely unstable and loses its effect if not stored in dark bottles and refrigerated. Off the shelf Vitamin C stored in a light colored bottle on a well-lit shelf is a waste of your money.
The antioxidant property of Vitamin C is important to fight free radicals induced by sun exposure and environmental pollution. Free radicals will age the skin as well as induce abnormal cell production; i.e., skin cancer. Vitamin C also works to increase collagen production and cell turnover as well as increase sun protection and decrease pigment production.
Another complaint I hear in the summer is that “my skin looks dull.” If this is the complaint then increasing cleansing products will remove dead cells and light chemical peels will encourage skin cell turnover. This use of peels brings younger skin cells to the surface thereby re-establishing your skin’s vibrancy. These peels may be done once a week to decrease the potential for irritation yet still stimulate the growth of young, healthy, fresh skin cells.
As the weather changes it is important to change your skin care regimen to adjust for environmental changes. Remember to keep it as simple as possible to make sure you do it and still address the changing conditions. Your skin will appreciate your concern and caring.