Feel like you need a dictionary every time you look at the ingredient list of a beauty product? Still unsure of the difference between retinol and retinoids? What about the unique benefits of vitamins B, C, and E? Are alpha and beta hydroxy acids the same thing? The skincare aisle can be overwhelming, but you don’t need a PhD in cosmetic chemistry to navigate it. With expert help, The AEDITION is demystifying and simplifying the beauty industry — one label at a time.
Summer is here! While we welcome the warmth and sunshine, we have a love/hate relationship with the heat and humidity. Are you with us? When it comes to your skin, it’s important to adjust your skincare regimen to the temperature and humidity change in order to keep it hydrated, glowing (read: not sweaty or shiny), and protected.
“The biggest skincare goals for summer are to prevent collagen damage from UV rays and to focus on lightening and brightening the skin,” says Adriana Lombardi, MD, a board certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Cancer and Cosmetic Surgery Center of New Jersey.
With those ideals in mind, we asked Dr. Lombardi and Ron Robinson, a cosmetic chemist and founder of BeautyStat, to name their must-have skincare ingredients for summer and provide tips on how to use them.
1. Zinc Oxide
The Skinny: Zinc oxide is the most popular mineral sunscreen ingredient because it physically blocks harmful UVA and UVB rays. “Mineral SPFs are having a moment,” Robinson says. “Studies done on chemical sunscreens show that they can absorb into your bloodstream and that they aren’t safe for coral reefs.”
How to Use It: The general rule of thumb is to apply a shot glass (about two ounces) worth of sunscreen to each area of your body that’s exposed to the sun. As we covered extensively in our SPF report, most people don’t use enough. Opt for an SPF of 30 or higher and don’t forget to reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming. For an initial application, we like Aveeno Positively Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50. The ColoreScience Sunforgettable Brush-On SPF 30, meanwhile, is great for reapplying to your face throughout the day without messing up your makeup.
2. Vitamin C
The Skinny: Sun exposure leads to hyperpigmentation and collagen damage. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that both inhibits the enzyme that produces melanin in the skin and stimulates collagen to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. “Vitamin C should be in your regimen all year, but it’s especially important during the summer months,” Dr. Lombardi shares. “It helps to brighten and lighten the skin.” How to Use It: Dr. Lombardi recommends using it twice per day. We like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic as a facial serum paired with BeautyStat Universal C Eye Perfector. The latter is formulated with 5 percent vitamin C, which is safe for the eye area, and contains CBD to minimize dark circles and puffiness. Read more about CBD in skincare HERE.
3. Hyaluronic Acid
The Skinny: “Hyaluronic acid is a powerhouse ingredient for attracting moisture to the skin,” explains Robinson. “It’s a good ingredient to have in your regimen all year round, but is great for summertime because it’s not as heavy as oils and butters and gets the job done.” The humectant is known to retain over 1,000 times its weight in water and won’t clog your pores. How to Use It: Look for a serum or lightweight moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid. Two budget-friendly options are The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Gel-Cream. If you choose the serum route, apply it twice a day after cleansing but before moisturizing.
4. Alpha Hydroxy Acids
The Skinny: Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are a class of ingredients known to gently exfoliate the top layer of your skin on a chemical level. They include glycolic, lactic, and citric acids (to name a few). “I recommend using an AHA like glycolic acid during the summer months because it will peel away dead skin cells from the surface without over-drying the skin,” Dr. Lombardi explains. How to Use It: Try a glycolic acid-based cleanser like the Sobel Skin Rx 27% Glycolic Acid Facial Cleanser or opt for a leave-on treatment like Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads.
One More Thing...
You may be wondering: What about retinol? It’s a valid question. Because retinol is an aggressive exfoliant, it makes your skin more sensitized to the sun. If the powerhouse ingredient has been part of your regimen for a while, continue to use it instead of AHAs — though you may want to scale back your routine to a couple of days a week and load up on sunscreen (even more than you usually would) on the mornings after use. If you’ve never had a vitamin A derivative in your regimen, consider waiting until the leaves start to change to get started. If you’re looking to plan ahead, check out our fall skincare ingredient guide.
All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.
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