From masks to serums, refresh your face with this season-specific plan.
Dull, dry, and flaky skin is commonplace as athletes transition from the colder months to spring. In fact, winter is especially tough on your skin if you spend a lot of time sweating it out in warm environments, like the gym, and then heading out into the brisk air, says Zakia Rahman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and clinical associate professor of dermatology at Stanford University. That’s why spring’s skincare focus should be around exfoliating all that dead skin via dermatologist-approved ingredients. When summer rolls around, you'll want to back off and focus more on sun care. In the meantime, here's a dermatologist-approved plan to refresh your face after battling the winter elements.
step one: cleanser
Rahman recommends cleansing with La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Cleanser night and morning (and after any workout) because it contains salicylic acid, which helps fight acne. For those who work out frequently, a little extra protection from blemishes is key: Even though sweating can help flush out clogged pores, it also has the potential to get mixed with oil and dirt and clog them back up again. Another beneficial ingredient in this face wash is lipohydroxy acid (LHA), which gently removes any makeup or grime.
Though most derms agree that chemical exfoliation (more on this in the nighttime part of this regimen) is better than mechanical, using a skin brush once a day can amp up the deep-cleaning effect. Use the Clarisonic Mia Fit to gently massage in the above cleanser in the morning. “The Clarisonic brush is a personal favorite of mine,” says Rahman. And while she says the popular method of removing dead skin from the body with dry brushing is fine, the Clarisonic is less messy and safer for both your face and body.
“Moisturizing is really critical all year,” Rahman says, but as noted, the combination of cold weather and warm heated indoor environments does a number on your skin’s moisture levels. Research has shown that hyaluronic acid is the most crucial molecule in allowing skin to retain it. Slather Rodial Dragon’s Blood Hyaluronic Moisturizer on in the AM after cleansing and let it do its work all day. Alternatively, if you generally spend time outside during the day, “try using a sunscreen-based moisturizer (like Fré Protect Me Defense Moisturizer) for the face and other sun-exposed areas,” says Rahman. “You can kill two birds with one stone because it is important to use sunscreen all year,” she adds. The whole Fré line was created with sweaty skin in mind, meaning it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, packs SPF 30, and is non-comedogenic so it won’t clog up your pores.
After cleansing your skin at night (go back to step 1 above) is when you can really get to work on exfoliating your face. “Chemical exfoliants are a great option for people with dry, scaling, or rough skin,” explains J. Matthew Knight, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Orlando, Florida. “The easiest-to-use options are often alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic or glycolic acid. These products help smooth the skin and increase its water content by acting as humectants, or substances that help your skin retain moisture.” Use a mask with both glycolic and lactic acid, like REN Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, once a week.
Tanya Kormelli, M.D, a board-certified dermatologist in Santa Monica, CA, agrees that naturally-occurring acids, like salicylic, glycolic, and lactic, can help exfoliate naturally without the risk of damaging your skin. A product like Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum will do the trick and can be used every night after cleansing and before your moisturizer. Plus, Drunk Elephant’s formulations are made without phthalates, sulfates, or parabens. Alternatively, Cane + Austin 20% Miracle Pads have a higher concentration of glycolic acid and are still safe to use. They’ll exfoliate and enable your skin to keep in moisture. Cane + Austin also makes glycolic acid pads for the body, and Kormelli notes that “anything you do for the face can be applied to the body.”
Finish everything off with CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion PM which has ingredients backed by science. The combination of ceramides with other fatty acids naturally found in skin (like cholesterol, which is also in this product) is super effective at healing damaged skin. Slather it on nightly before bed, after you cleanse and use any serums in your routine.