Everyone wants a hydrated, dewy complexion in the summer—but that can slide far too easily into oily/greasy territory as the temperature rises. We asked some of our go-to skincare gurus to weigh in on the right way to navigate the tricky art of moisturizing during the warm-weather months—along the way they also debunked some commonplace myths for us. Read on and listen up.
Myth: All moisturizers are created equal
Before choosing a face lotion, it's important to first identify your complexion's needs. Facialist-to-the-stars Shani Darden (who has worked with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jessica Alba) notes that "the biggest mistake people make when it comes to moisturizer is using the wrong kind for their skin type. If you don’t know your skin type, it helps to ask a professional—but typically, someone with oily skin will want to use a lighter moisturizer than someone with dry skin." As a general rule for oily, acne-prone or combination skin, Leslie Perlman Kritzer and Madison DeClercq of holistic skincare salon Mad Beauty recommend choosing non-comedogenic products, which prevent pores from getting clogged. Shani also notes that it can be hard to find a balance when you have this kind of skin type because acne products can be drying, causing people to overcompensate with heavy, pore-clogging moisturizers. For the closest thing to a universal fit for all skin types, she recommends Dr. Dennis Gross Hydra-Pure Oil Free Moisturizer because it absorbs quickly, hydrates skin and boasts anti-aging and blemish-fighting properties.
Photo: Adam Katz Sinding
Myth: Exfoliating is only important in the winter
While it's commonly encouraged to routinely buff away the dry, flaky skin that comes as a result of harsh winter conditions, exfoliating in the summer is still equally (if not more) important for different reasons. Celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau weighs in: "In the summer, skin is producing more oil because of heat (especially in oily/acne-prone skin), which can get trapped in pores, therefore causing bacteria that can lead to breakouts. Exfoliating allows you to lift those dead skin cells sitting on the surface so oil is less likely to get lodged in the pores." The key here, however, is to use a mild scrub (such as one with jojoba beads) that won't irritate overheated, sun-drenched skin. If you're partial to your own cleanser, Leslie and Madison mention that it's actually easy to make your own gentle scrub by combining a creamy cleansing formula with a pinch of baking soda. That can then be used twice a week to exfoliate.
Myth: Face creams are the only way to moisturize
Hydration doesn't just stem from your daily moisturizer—it's also important to incorporate other nourishing, topical products into your routine. All four experts recommend employing a serum with hyaluronic acid, a humectant that allows the skin to retain the water necessary for a hydrated complexion. Leslie and Madison also love facial mists (specifically those by Glossier and 302) to prep skin before makeup or to keep in your purse for a midday surge of moisture.
Myth: The products you wash your face with don’t affect your moisture levels
According to Renee, the most important step in your skincare routine is what you wash with, as that is going to make or break how everything is going to work after. She elaborates: "If you use a cleanser with harsh detergents it strips the skin and dehydrates the surface of your complexion. Therefore, you're often forced to have to use a heavier moisturizer (which could potentially clog pores) just to do repair work and get your skin back to a comfortable balance." Due to this, she recommends using a mild, sulfate-free cleanser year-round—you want this product to be low-lathering as the general rule is the more bubbles produced from a wash, the more drying it is. Another cleansing route is micellar water. Unfamiliar? Shani explains: "Micellar water is made up of small oil molecules called micelles that are suspended in water— they pull dirt and oil from the face and onto a cotton ball. Instead of stripping skin of moisture like many drying face washes, Micellar water dissolves dirt and grime while leaving skin feeling hydrated." Lastly, Shani, Leslie and Madison love cleansing wipes by Honest and Josie Maran, all of which contain formulas that soothe and have skin-balancing ingredients that hydrate the skin.
Myth: The more product you apply, the more moisture you get
According to Renee, when it comes to moisturizing in general, your skin acts as a sponge and ingests only what it needs while the excess sits on top—there is only so much lotion on your face that can actually do anything effective. That said, it is important to keep water in the skin, especially in heat—when your internal temperature increases, it causes water to evaporate from the surface of your complexion. A way to plump these dehydrated cells without forcing you to use a heavy moisturizer is to use an alcohol-free toner after cleansing. Then, leaving the toner damp, apply your regular moisturizer on top.
Photo: Adam Katz Sinding