Plus, discover several expert-approved formulas that will keep your skin calm and clear when temperatures skyrocket.
woman on beach in nhat
Credit: Getty Images / Ridofranz

Come summer, it's time to lighten up on everything we're wearing—even our skin care goods. Swap creams for lotions, and reach for serums rather than oils. But you don't need to forgo heavyweight active ingredients. Here's how to keep your face smooth and supple, using the four most important, dermatologist-approved product types during the steamy months.

1. Use Antioxidants and SPF in the Morning

Sun, as we well know, can be seriously damaging to your skin in the long term and can cause premature signs of aging, like wrinkles and discoloration. Antioxidants, like vitamins C, B3 (commonly known as niacinamide), and E, can help fight free radicals that cause cellular damage.

"Look for low concentrations [of antioxidants], and if your skin tingles, try a different one," says Corey L. Hartman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Birmingham, Ala. Try Vichy Laboratoires LiftActiv B3 Serum, which contains tranexamic acid to prevent dark spots from forming ($39,, or La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C Face Serum with Salicylic Acid, which refines skin's tone and texture ($39.99,

Next, follow up your antioxidant product with sunscreen. Marina I. Peredo, M.D., F.A.A.D, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, likes tinted options with both chemical and physical blockers for maximum protection, like EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 ($35,

2. Use Retinol at Night

"The idea that you should taper off retinols this time of year is a myth," says Dr. Hartman. Once the gold-standard line-smoother is absorbed into your skin, it won't make you more sensitive to rays. (However, the ingredient resurfaces your complexion, so SPF is imperative!) Now's not the time to start vitamin A, either, because it can be irritating at first. You'll get the same benefits from Burt's Bees Firming Moisturizing Cream (from $12,, which contains bakuchiol, a less sensitizing natural active that is similar to retinol.

3. Exfoliate on an As-Needed Basis

To prevent dullness and breakouts, exfoliating once or twice a week is ideal, says Dr. Peredo. "Skip heavy-duty scrubs and potent hydroxy acids," says Dr. Hartman. His summer go-to is glycolic acid, which gently hydrates as it sloughs. Try Neutrogena Skin Perfecting Daily Oily Liquid Exfoliant ($22,, which has a seven percent concentration. Or for an even milder option, consider Honest Beauty Skin Sweep Exfoliating Powder Cleanser ($22,, which contains clay to purge pores.


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