The Seasonal Skincare Switch
There is no denying how great we start to feel once the days are filled with daylight and the warmth of a summer’s day seep into our bones. Thoughts of an exotic holiday overseas may not be a reality just yet (let us keep hoping!) however, the wardrobe has been switched with the cosy jumpers folded away and swapped for linen, cotton, sunnies and a decent SPF for the seasonal must haves.
Switching wardrobes between seasons is the norm, but how are you going to switch your skincare regime to be in harmony with the season?
So many of us do not even consider a seasonal skincare change, yet it should be a priority up there with the SPF and cool cottons. We tend to follow our regime by skin type without considering how skin changes with the seasons and what effects the humidity and weather combined with our daily environment has on our skin.
Skin likes stability -- it loves a constant temperature. It is the largest organ of the body, despite being only a few millimetres thick. Yet our skin is our total armour. It is the shield that protects from toxins and microbes and is a self-regulator, meaning your body immediately responds to heat and cold, without you having to turn up or lower the dial from your phone! So, it makes completes sense that when the temperature changes, so does our skin’s response signals and the way in which it behaves.
If we have a basic understanding of our skin, there are three main layers.
First and foremost, there is the epidermis, which is the first line of defence. Much of the epidermis is made up of dead skin cells on the very surface – the outermost layer (stratum corneum or horny layer as it is sometimes known) which you see when you look in the mirror, this layer of dead keratinocytes which are constantly shedding as the epidermis is constantly regenerating. For most skin types, this cellular renewal process takes on average 28-35 days from start to finish. Oilier skin types can be more speedy and truly dry skins can shed at a tortoise pace, with the cellular renewal process taking up to 90 days!
In second place there is the stratum lucidum – but did you know that this layer only exists on the palm of the hands and soles of the feet? Think about the areas which need extra strength and protection!
Next in line is the stratum granulosum. This layer contains some keratinocytes for strength in our skin, but these are constantly on the move through the layers of the epidermis, flattening as they transit.
Then we reach the stratum spinosum. This active layer in the epidermis sometimes known as the squamous layer is where new keratinocytes are formed. It is the thickest layer of the epidermis with new cells ascending from bottom to top through the layers of the skin. These living cells, known as “squamous” cells eventually reside as a dead layer of skin on the outer surface. You know when you look in the mirror sometimes and feel like your skin looks flat and in need of a little bit of a healthy glow – remove the dead skin cells with a good exfoliation, microdermabrasion or professional peel, and once those dead skin cells have been buffed away, brighter, healthier looking skin with more luminosity shows through, plus light can reflect off the skin, which also helps with a rosy glow - simply because you’ve taken away the debris and dead skin, so you remove the once active squamous cells once they have died away and reached the surface as they are now just a layer of dead keratinocytes.
Finally, we reach the stratum Basale or basal layer of the skin. Within this layer the basal cells divide and propel old skin cells up through the other four layers of the epidermis toward the outermost layer. It is also the layer of epidermis which produces melanin to give us some natural protection from UV rays and our skin pigment or colour too.
With five separate layers in total, the epidermis is the layer of the skin that protects, shields, repels toxins and of course holds in hydration, nutrients, and moisture. It keeps us looking healthy and young, dependant on how we look after it in return. So, it plays a vital role.
Reach a layer deeper in the skin and you will find the dermis. The middle layer of your skin, a thicker layer of the skin as it contains oil and sweat glands, blood capillaries, hair follicles, nerve endings and connective tissue, this is where two of the most talked about proteins in the beauty industry reside – your collagen and elastin. This connective tissue which is made up of collagen and elastin give us bounce, fullness, elasticity, and youthful looking skin. Surrounded by Hyaluronic acid – another well know active ingredient, ensuring flexibility and suppleness within the skin, while maintaining our natural water reservoirs in the skin and locking in moisture. Did you know that the dermis is thicker than the epidermis, yet it varies in different parts of the body? For instance, on your eyelids, the dermis may only be around 0.6mm thick, yet on the back of your hands the dermis can be 3mm in thickness and it is where the blood vessels and nerves reside which give us our sense of touch too… (love a skin fact!)
The third and final layer of the skin is known as the subcutaneous tissue. The deepest and innermost layer is made up of fat and connective tissue which lies between your skin and muscle. Made up of larger nerve endings and blood vessels, it is a protective shield to your muscles -- think of it as the cushioning layer of the skin which both insulates and regulates your bodies temperature too. This is where all the signalling to the rest of the skin starts from, which is why this layer of skin is so fascinating and a definite reason behind why we should alter our skincare routine as well as our wardrobes in line with the seasons…
Now that the skin lesson is over with, it’s time to bear in mind your skin’s current behavioural changes. SO here you are, happily soaking up the warmth, enjoying the outdoor life, with your skin feeling great throughout the spring. Summer suddenly appears and with it comes more socialising, meeting and greeting friends, and then it starts: the oily t-zone, the breakouts on the chin and cheeks, etc. (and no, these are not hormonal unless your body is trying to tell you something). You start the day well, skin appears fine, but within a few hours, there is a whole new oil slick by the sides of your nose, across your upper cheeks, and it is now mixing in with just a little perspiration. Your make-up is starting to look like it was from yesterday morning, not just a few hours earlier. Why?
In spring and summer months, heat, humidity, and increased UV levels change the usual behaviour of our skin. An increased production of sebum gives us a slightly greasier shine, specifically to a T-zone area on what usually appears to be a normal skin type. Oiler skin types may feel like they have just had their oil control turned up to full volume, while drier skin types may feel more supple. All due to the change in climate, but what causes this?
When humidity increases, the skin responds by producing more oil from your sebaceous glands as the skin is cocooned in heat, both a warm and damp environment. Add into the equation the increase in sweat production from the increased temperatures and your skin is suddenly a perfect breeding site for bacteria.
The combination of excess oil, sweat and heat frequently causes more blocked pores, congestion, blemishes, and breakouts – the nose area is a key indicator when usually quite normal skin suddenly looks to have more enlarged pores, tiny-filled pustules that appear throughout the day and blackheads or blocked pores. Where did they appear from?
The only saving grace is that when the temperature soars and humidity levels rise, your skin is less likely to dehydrate, so the water content stays more stable. However, the oil content increases. For dry skin types, this can be a blessing in disguise. The usual flaky patches and tight feeling can disappear as the water reservoirs are maintained and the oil production increase – what a bonus! It does not mean we should ditch the hero hydrators. It just means we should monitor our skin and the textures of the skincare products we are using – think lighter layers for clothing in summer, lighter skincare solutions too -- hyaluronic acid serums and marine collagen infused products are perfect for this.
Changing your serum and moisturiser is a must in the summer months. Key active ingredients like Niacinamide are skin saviours when the temperature soars, as this super skin-restoring ingredient has multiple benefits for all skin types. Known for its anti-ageing properties, Niacinamide improves the appearance of enlarged pores, targets fine lines, uneven skin tone and helps to repair an impaired barrier function. It is also said to be able to help regulate sebum production, so if your skin is spouting more oil than you can handle, you can control the greasy effect with a daily dose of Niacinamide from your serum. One of my favourites is Doctors Formula™ Power Actives Niacinamide Serum, which is part of their Power Actives range that target the health of skin.
The other factor to take into consideration during a heatwave is the texture of your products, specifically moisturiser. If you usually like a rich and nourishing hydrator, turn to something a little lighter, but still supercharged with the skin targeting actives you need to treat your skin, daily. Changing from a rich cream moisturiser to a lighter textured cream version or switching completely to a lotion format can make all the difference.
For an everyday hydration boost, I turn to Doctors Formula™ Power Actives Turmeric Lotion. This turmeric lotion boasts a power-packed mix of curcuma longo root extract (turmeric), lauric, citric & linoleic acid to replenish, revitalise and strengthen the skin. It also contains soothing plant extracts such as Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract to help replenish the skins natural moisture. It is fabulous if you have not reapplied your sunscreen quickly enough and there are a few “pink” hues showing through on your skin! This golden Turmeric Lotion is antioxidant and vitamin rich too, so it promotes a healthier, strengthened and calm looking skin. Love It!
Although an SPF should be in your skincare regime all year round (yes, even in winter!), in summer there really is no excuse not to be using it. With the heightened UV levels,it needs to be applied daily. If you are looking to use an additional SPF over the top of your moisturiser, then choose one which has at least an SPF 30 or an SPF 50.
As both the EWG and the Skin Cancer Foundation advise that SPF 30 blocks nearly 97% of UVB radiation while SPF 50 blocks about 98%, daily SPF application is an absolute must for real protection against increased pigmentation, ageing and skin complaints associated with over sun exposure. CeraVe™ offers an Ultra-Light Moisturising Lotion SPF30 with a great price point for combination and oiler skin types. If you are looking for a more cosmeceutical approach, then look up Murad™ Age Balancing Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF30 | PA+++ or if you need something lighter in texture but with a higher SPF then City Skin* Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 | PA++++ could be your summertime solution.
Some also find that changing their cleanser throughout the summer months can have a positive effect on skin. Using something more salicylic acid based or a combination of AHA and BHAs in your daily cleansing routine really helps in keeping the pores squeaky clean.
Once we have made it through summer and the leaves start to fall, we can find ourselves with another skincare malfunction. The weather can be fickler than a child in a sweet shop! One minute it feels like summer has returned, the following day it feels like you have just got through a monsoon, not a shower. It can even feel like that winter has arrived a couple of months earlier than the calendar date is showing you! That constant fluctuation in temperature change combined with the decrease in humidity levels, winds, and the decision whether to blast the central heating or the air con puts our skin in a state of stress, not to mention the daily wardrobe malfunctions…
In autumn through to the winter months, hydration is king and moisturisation is a must. Long gone are the surface oil slicks of summer, roll in the dry flaky patches, that slightly too “squeaky clean” skin sensation that we associate with the use of soap (heaven forbid!) the sunnies and linens are a distant memory, all we want to do is snuggle into something cosy and warm, curl up and hibernate until the next few months have passed.
Dehydration is the biggest skin aggressor during winter, as the climate is literally sucking the water out of your skin. When the weather cools, the humidity levels drop and so does the excessive sebum production – or oil production in the skin. Yet so do the hydration levels in the skin – the water levels in our skin start to deplete as we reach winter. As the concentration of water vapour in the air falls – although this seems back to front as we think of winter as being wet and soggy, so there should be higher humidity not lower, that is not the case. The cooler temperatures and lower humidity result in dry air which draws moisture away from your skin. Then add into the mix that we love to turn the heating up, sit beside a roaring fire until we look like we have spent a few days in the sun. Hot baths, multiple layers, that “toastie” feeling is what we subject our self-regulating skin to for months on end.
Dehydration leads to fine lines on your skin, fine lines (unless treated), lead to wrinkles…winter can age you unless you switch up your skincare routine.
Boosting the skin’s moisture content during winter helps to reinforce the skin’s natural protective barrier. With an impaired barrier function, our skin is more reactive and more inflammatory, so changing your skincare regime as we step into fall is a must. The plus side of all this chopping and changing of our skincare routines is that on average a 30ml serum and 50ml moisturiser will last you about 10-12 weeks if you are using different products for your morning and evening routine.
My winter must haves revolve around Doctors Formula’s Marine Collagen skincare range, but they frequently fall into my summer routine too! Absolute favourites are Doctors Formula™ Marine Collage Original Time Reverse Serum and Anti-ageing Daytime Moisturiser. If I need a quick fix, then I’ll use the overnight sleep mask – Marine Collagen 8 Hour Deep Repair Mask (used as a replacement to a night-time moisturiser), which is totally is my desert island one product only must have! Historical favourites are Elemis™ Pro Collagen Marine Cream too.
Seasonal switches start with the wardrobe overhaul, but your skincare regime should have an overhaul at the same time. It is the largest living organ of the body -- it is clever, protective, and most importantly, it is your daily defence against all sorts of environmental elements. It is worth the investment.
Some new summer tops or a seriously good skincare switch…I know what I would choose every time.
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As old as I am!
I hear you say, but is it? Do you look your age? Older? Younger? When does it start? You know that feeling when you look in the mirror at your reflection, “Hmm, this isn’t quite what I expected?”
SKIN -- it’s our largest living organ, but do we really pay it the respect that it deserves?
The likely answer is no. We abuse it day in and day out. We expose it to all forms of aggressors, environmental damage, physical attack, UV rays and pollution. We leave the dead and dying cells on the skin’s surface, yet we expect it to fully function, be radiant, healthy, and non-reactive. It keeps us warm and cool as our complete protective layer, shielding everything beneath, so why do we not show our skin the care and support it deserves?
Did you step into spring and get the feeling it’s Groundhog Day? After the holiday season, you said to yourself “Here comes January and the first resolution is that I am going to start getting beach body ready NOW!”