The expert’s guide to summer skincare
Warmer weather calls for a switch in your skincare routine — think lightweight textures, smart formulations and gentle exfoliators. For clear, glowing skin when the temperature rises, reach for ‘oil-free and non-comedogenic products,’ says New York-based dermatologist and founder of the Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan, Dr. Michelle Henry. Discover our guide to the expert-recommended products that will keep your complexion healthy and protected all summer.
Product buildup from moisturizers, makeup and SPF can lead to congested pores. Dr. Henry advises switching to a mild cleanser containing an exfoliating acid to clarify your skin without stripping it of moisture. Our pick is 111SKIN’s Exfolactic cleanser, which gently resurfaces with lactic acid while soothing and rehydrating with rosemary water. For a non-exfoliating option that still washes away impurities, Crystal Greene — facialist and founder of the New York aesthetics salon Crystal Greene Studios — suggests products containing sugar-derived surfactants like coco glucoside, which ‘gives a deep cleanse without leaving the skin feeling tight and stripped.’ The Susanne Kaufmann Purifying Cleansing Gel does just that with a blend of active, natural ingredients including antibacterial willowherb extract and calming chamomile.
There’s a serum to suit every skin type and concern, but for the summer months, our experts advise investing in lightweight, antioxidant-packed formulations that not only hydrate, but also protect. Greene explains that, ‘with increased exposure to harmful UV rays, antioxidant serums are essential. Ingredients like vitamin A, C and E help to reduce, repair and prevent cell damage.’ Spoiled for choice? Our go-tos include the Allies of Skin 20% Vitamin C Brighten + Firm Serum which leaves skin smooth and radiant, alongside Omorovicza’s humectant-rich Daily Vitamin C Serum.
Due to increased sun exposure, over-exfoliation during the summer can lead to sensitivity and skin irritation. Avoid this by using your heavy-duty exfoliators less frequently. When you do exfoliate, reach for formulas like the Eighth Day Resurfacing Tonic, which combines the chemical exfoliant glycolic acid with skin-buffering ingredients such as aloe vera and glycerin. If you’re in the market for an alternative to AHAs and BHAs, Greene says, ‘enzymes derived from fruit acids such as papaya and pineapple are typically more gentle on the skin’ and work just as well. The Grown Alchemist Enzyme Facial Exfoliant uses a blend of fruit extracts — including brightening papaya — to slough off dead skin cells and reveal a smoother, more even-toned complexion.
The layers we rely on to retain moisture during the winter can feel heavy and uncomfortable in the heat and humidity of the summer. Dr. Henry recommends using lightweight moisturizers in gel-cream formulations to hydrate and cushion the skin without being too thick or pore-clogging. Choose your new staple from our favorites, including Augustinus Bader’s The Light Cream. This weightless blend nourishes with a mix of light rice bran oil to deposit nutrient-rich fatty acids deep into the skin, antioxidant-rich Australian lemon myrtle extract to prevent cell damage, and botanical extracts such as aloe and camellia leaf to aid in moisture retention.
No summer skincare guide is complete without a sunscreen PSA. A year-round essential for healthy, protected skin, it’s important to invest in formulas you’ll enjoy wearing. When in doubt, Dr. Henry strongly advises choosing ‘broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays — with a minimum of SPF 30.’ Her sunscreen non-negotiables include application 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure, reapplying every two hours, protecting often-missed areas such as the ears, neck and feet, and not relying on makeup with SPF for protection. New to FARFETCH, vegan brand Darling Sun’s Glowy Face Cream SPF 50+ is an all-rounder that promises a dewy finish while calming redness and irritation, and boosting skin elasticity. For an innovative take on the skincare staple, the weightless Sun Drops SPF 50 by Dr. Barbara Sturm doubles as an intensely hydrating antioxidant serum.