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For many people, the warm weather of summer months means a chance to relax, trips to the beach or the pool, vacations, and other outdoor activities. As temperatures rise and humidity increases, many patients don’t know how to adjust their skincare routine best to compensate for the changes in the weather. While summertime for many involves fun in the sun, the heat can also lead to increased sweating and more debris on the skin’s surface from the combination of sunscreen and makeup, leading to oily skin and acne breakouts. Depending on your skin type – oily, dry, or combination skin – your skincare routine may differ this summer. Luckily, expert dermatologist Dr. Michele Green has recommendations for how to keep your skin clear, bright, and glowing this summer season, no matter what your skin type.

Whether your skin tends to be oily or dry, the most important summer skincare step for everyone is to apply broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen anytime you go outside. With the sun at its highest intensity between 10 am and 4 pm during summer months, it is vitally important to reapply sunscreen every two hours to keep skin from suffering any sun damage. In addition to always using sun protection, your summer skincare routine should involve a light moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated, a gentle cleanser to keep skin free of debris and excess oil, exfoliation once a week to keep the pores unclogged, and a vitamin C serum to prevent dark spots and boost collagen production. When deciding which summer skincare products are best for you, the best first step is to visit board-certified dermatologist Dr. Green, who will examine your skin and make recommendations for the specific products and skincare regimen that will work for you.

Dr. Green has been expertly treating patients in her Upper East Side New York City dermatology office for more than 25 years. With her line of proprietary skincare products, MGSKINLABs, Inc., Dr. Green is well-versed in creating personalized skincare plans for patients of all skin types. Dr. Green provides her patients with gentle, irritant-free cleansers, moisturizers, lotions, serums, and sunscreen for bright, clear, glowing skin even in the summer months. In addition to her skincare products, Dr. Green is an expert in a wide range of cosmetic treatments, including laser treatments, dermal fillers, Botox, chemical peels, microneedling, and more. Well-known for high patient satisfaction, Dr. Green has been voted one of the best healthcare providers in New York City by such publications as Castle Connolly, Super Doctors, and New York Magazine.

What happens to the skin in summer?

When the summer season begins across the United States, temperatures rise. While the temperatures and humidity levels will vary from place to place, generally speaking, summer is when hot, dry, or humid weather can change how we need to take care of the skin. For those living in hot, dry areas of the country, such as the desert in the Southwest of the United States, patients may find that they are combatting dryness in addition to sweaty skin. In contrast, those patients living where the humidity is high may find that their standard skincare routine feels heavy on the face. Additionally, summertime usually means that patients spend more time in the sun, which means more exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can cause sun damage and speed up the natural aging process. While dry air, humidity, and increased sun exposure can affect the skin, there are many ways to adjust your skin care regimen to care for it and keep it looking clear, bright, and glowing.

beach summer

What is the best summer skincare routine?

In the summer, your skincare routine must shift slightly to compensate for increased temperature, moisture level, and sun exposure. In general, it is important to “lighten up” your skincare products in the summer, meaning finding lightweight, gentle cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens to prevent the skin from feeling weighted down and heavy. Different products may be best for different skin types, such as people with sensitive skin, oily skin, or dry skin. Still, regardless of skin type, several essential steps should be taken to keep skin clear, bright, and free of pigmentation:


While summer can be sweaty and hot, it is important to avoid over-showering or over-washing as that can irritate the skin. Use a gentle cleanser to wash the face in the morning and in the evening, and shower at most once a day or after intense physical activity. The best cleanser option for the summer is one that is light and foaming as opposed to heavier cream or oil.


Even though the moisture in the air increases in the summer, it is still imperative to moisturize the skin after cleansing. The sun can still dry the skin, increasing sebum production for oily, blemished skin. Apply a light moisturizer after you wash your face, but wait until the face is completely dry before applying. You can also try a combination of moisturizer and sunscreen or a tinted moisturizer in place of foundation to decrease the amount of product applied to your face.

Light Makeup Application

During the summer months, Dr. Green recommends lightening up makeup application to prevent the skin from feeling heavy or weighed down. One of the best ways to do this is to apply a tinted moisturizer or a setting powder with SPF to protect the face from the sun and provide you with the put-together look you are going for. Even with broad-spectrum SPF moisturizer or powder, it is still important to wear sunscreen.

Always Apply Sunscreen!

Sunscreen application is the most important step of any summer skincare routine. Exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause permanent damage to the skin, speed up the aging process, and even lead to skin cancer in the future. Broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher should always be applied before going outside and re-applied every two hours that you spend in the sun between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is at its peak. Sunscreen should be applied year-round, especially when spending a significant amount of time outside, like during the summer months. To help keep your skin clear, look for an oil-free sunscreen, such as Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch sunscreen broad-spectrum SPF 50 or Dr. Green’s hydrating sunscreen SPF 50.

Exfoliate Once a Week

Exfoliation with retinoids, such as retinol, is essential to keep the skin clear and bright during the summer. Exfoliating helps clear the skin surface of debris such as dead skin cells, excess oil, and remnants of makeup or sunscreen that may clog the pores. Patients should be advised not to exfoliate sunburned skin and not to exfoliate too often, as that can irritate the skin.

Antioxidant Gel Cream or Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C serum should also be a staple of year-round skincare but is particularly beneficial during summer. Vitamin C serums and other antioxidant gels can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, prevent discoloration or dark spots from forming on the skin, and boost collagen production for more structural support.

MGSkinLabs Vita C Serum

How to take care of oily skin in summer naturally

Heat, sweat, and frequent sunscreen application can make already oily skin feel even more oily, but luckily there are easy, natural steps to take to care for your skin in the summer. Even in summertime, if your skin feels oily, never skip moisturizing after cleansing. The sun can dry out the skin – as can the air if you live in a dry environment – which can cause your body to compensate by producing even more sebum to hydrate the skin. As such, moisturizing is always important to prevent excess sebum production. However, in the summer, Dr. Green recommends switching to a light moisturizer that should be applied after using a gentle cleanser.

Dr. Green recommends the MGSKINLABs Ultimate Sheer Hydrating Lotion as a light moisturizer for acne-prone skin. After cleansing the skin, Dr. Green also suggests the application of a gentle toner, such as the MGSKINLABs Facial Toner, to unclog the pores and reduce excess sebum production. Oily skin in the summer can also benefit from exfoliation several times a week. It is important not to over-exfoliate the skin, as this can irritate, but once or twice a week will help to clear the skin of excess oil, dead skin cells, and other debris, brightening the skin and improving skin tone. Dr. Green recommends a gentle exfoliant containing salicylic or glycolic acid, such as the MGSKINLABs Retexturing At-Home Pads. When you consult with Dr. Green, she will work with you to determine your skin type and create a customized skincare regimen best suited to your needs.

How to take care of dry skin in summer

There are many ways that summer can exacerbate dry skin, whether due to your location or lifestyle choices, but luckily there are ways to combat dry skin even in the summer months. In some parts of the country, the air stays dry throughout the summer, and sun exposure can also dry the skin. For others, beach trips, chlorine from the pool, air conditioning, and self-tanning can contribute to dry skin. Dr. Green recommends using a gentle cleanser and a lightweight moisturizer to combat dry skin and refrain from over-showering or over-washing the skin. Rinsing off with hot water can dry out the skin and strip away essential oils, contributing to rough, dry skin, so washing your face with lukewarm water is best. Air conditioning can also dry out the air and, consequently, your skin, and, as such, keeping your humidifier on at home will help to prevent dry skin as well. At the end of the day, a hydrating face mask can help retain moisture in the skin and brighten the skin. When you consult with Dr. Green at her private dermatology office in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood, she will work with you to determine your skin type and create a customized skincare regimen best suited to you.

How to take care of combination skin in summer

Combination skin is defined as skin that has both oily and dry patches. The most common presentation of combination skin is oily skin occurring along the T-zone – or the forehead, nose, and chin – and dry spots happening on the cheeks. It can feel challenging to deal with combination skin, especially in the summer, as sweat and sunscreen can make the T-zone look shinier, and the heat can dry out the cheeks. However, Dr. Green has several useful tips for keeping the skin regulated. For combination skin, you should cleanse the skin twice a day with a gentle cleanser being careful not to over-wash the T-zone. Some people believe that washing the T-zone more intensely will clear away oil. However, the opposite is true. Overwashing can cause dryness and irritation to the skin, which may increase sebum production. After using a gentle cleanser on the face, you can apply two different moisturizers to the different areas of your face. A light, gentle moisturizer can be used on the T-zone, while a hyaluronic acid-based moisturizer can be used on the dryer patches of skin to help retain moisture. If you experience sweaty or shiny skin while you are out and about during the day, Dr. Green recommends using blotting paper, which will help to lift off oil without drying out the skin the way repeatedly washing your face would.

SR 32 yo female before and after acne treatment 10 months FRONT MGWatermark

How to take care of acne-prone skin in summer

Acne breakouts can be a year-round issue, and skincare for acne prevention will change during the summer months with products designed specifically for acne-prone skin. When looking for a cleanser, Dr. Green recommends the MGSKINLABs Pore-Minimizing cleanser, which contains salicylic acid and glycolic acid to unclog the pores and reduce sebum and debris on the face. This cleanser is highly effective for providing patients with clear, blemish-free skin in the summer but can also dry out the skin, so it should only be applied once a day to start. Cerave Acne Control cleanser can also be used. Following the cleanser, you should always apply a lightweight and friendly moisturizer for acne-prone skin, such as the MGSKINLABs Ultimate Sheer Hydrating Lotion, which controls sebum production and leaves the skin matte and shine-free. Lastly, applying a lightweight, highly protective sunscreen, such as the MGSKINLABs Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 50, is crucial to protect the skin from sun damage.

How to care for sensitive skin in summer

For sensitive skin, summertime skincare may involve different skincare products to keep skin hydrated without irritating the skin and make simple lifestyle changes. First, be sure you are not over-showering – even if you feel sweaty – as washing your face too much can irritate and dry out the skin. Further, do not use hot water when showering, as hot water can also dry out and irritate the skin, rather, you should shower in lukewarm water only once daily. When using cleanser to wash your face, Dr. Green recommends the MGSKINLABs Gentle Cleanser for Sensitive Skin, which cleans the face without stripping away any natural oils that keep the skin hydrated. After washing, gently dry your face by patting it dry rather than rubbing it and letting the skin air dry for several minutes before applying moisturizer. A gentle, light moisturizer will be essential – especially in the summer. When you are looking for moisturizers, lotions, and eye creams, be sure to avoid common irritants, such as alcohol, paragons, and scents. And, of course, wearing sunscreen whenever you go outside and reapplying every two hours is essential. Consider a lightweight, moisturizing sunscreen, such as MGSKINLABs’ Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 50.

How to get glowing summer skin

Many people feel that the ideal summer look is tan, glowing skin; however, you should be careful with how you go about tanning during the summer. Even if you are not prone to sunburn and your tan does not hurt, any darkening of the skin is a sign of sun damage, so it is important always to wear sunscreen when going outside. If you want a glowing tan look on the skin, consider using a self-tanner and applying daily until you achieve your ideal skin tone.

AC Cosmelan 10weeks before after FRONT 1 MGWatermark

Why is my skin better in the summer?

Some people find their skin clearer and brighter during summer compared to winter. In the winter, the air is typically much dryer, which can dry out the skin and increase sebum production on the face, clogging the pores and potentially leading to more acne breakouts. In the summer, there is generally more moisture in the air, which helps to keep the skin hydrated, and the sun’s rays can help boost vitamin D production. Often, people feel less stressed in the summer – taking time off of work, being outside, and going on vacation – which can also improve skin quality.

What to apply to the skin in the summer?

During the summertime, wearing less makeup can benefit the skin. Lots of makeup can make the skin feel heavy and may sweat off in the heat. However, that is not to say that you cannot wear makeup during the summer, rather, pare down your routine and look for alternate products. One way to lighten the amount of product you put on your face is by using a combination of moisturizer and sun protection. Look for non-comedogenic makeup, such as a tinted moisturizer that will provide SPF protection from the sun and can act as a foundation. Tinted moisturizer should not replace sunscreen; it is a way to combine foundation and moisturizer. You can also use a broad-spectrum setting powder to increase sun protection while wearing makeup. Once you have applied your makeup, you can add a layer of lightweight sunscreen.

What degree of SPF sunscreen do I need to apply?

The most important aspect of skincare during the summer months (and all year round) is to apply sunscreen anytime you go outside when the sun is most intense between 10 am and 4 pm and reapply every two hours to ensure continued protection. When choosing your sunscreen, be sure to look for one that offers protection of SPF 30 or higher. There is a large difference in the quality of protection between SPF 10 and SPF 30, but once you get higher than SPF 30, the changing effects are negligible. Any sunscreen you choose should have broad-spectrum protection, meaning that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays, as both UVA and UVB rays are very damaging to the skin and can lead to skin cancer down the line. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, applying sunscreen of at least SPF 50 daily can decrease your likelihood of developing skin cancer by 50%. Be sure to apply sunscreen to your lips, ears, backs of the hands, and feet, as these locations are often forgotten but very important to be protected.

How to take care of face skin in the summer

Summer is when we often spend more time outside soaking up the sun’s rays, which is wonderful as long as the right steps are taken to clean, moisturize, and protect the skin. The key to good skincare during the summer months is finding lightweight, gentle cleansers, moisturizers, and oil-free sunscreen to keep the skin refreshed. It can also help to exfoliate the skin once or twice a week to unclog the pores, prevent acne breakouts, and apply Vitamin C serum to hydrate the skin, boost collagen production, decrease the appearance of fine lines, and prevent hyperpigmentation.

How to take care of skin in summer with home remedies

Patients often ask how to do skincare in the summer, and there are a couple of lifestyle choices you can change at home to help take care of your skin. First, to keep your skin from drying out and getting irritated, do not over-shower, rather, even if your skin feels sweaty and sticky, only shower once daily. Be sure to shower using lukewarm water instead of hot water, as hot water can also irritate the skin. You can also naturally protect your skin by wearing protective clothing, such as a wide-brim hat, tightly woven fabrics like denim, and loose, long-sleeved, dark-colored shirts. One of the most important ways to take care of the skin is to wear sunscreen of at least SPF 30 anytime you go outside to prevent sun damage.

49 male blulight before after MGWatermark

Other summer skincare tips from an expert dermatologist

Dr. Green has many tips for taking care of your skin during the summertime, including:

  • Where broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen anytime you go outside between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm when the sun is at its most intense and reapply every two hours
  • Change to a gentle cleanser and wash your face twice a day – once in the morning and once at night
  • After washing the face, apply a gentle, light-weight moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated
  • Wear protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, tightly-woven fabrics, and dark, loose shirts
  • Avoid hot showers and shower with lukewarm water instead
  • Do not over-shower – only shower once a day
  • Pare back your makeup routine to avoid heavy application of products on the face
  • Exfoliate the face one to two times a week to unclog the pores and clear the face of debris. But do not exfoliate too many times in the week.

How to get started with summer skincare

The summer months mean longer days and more time in the sun and necessitate a change in your regular skincare routine. It is important to keep the skin clear and hydrated by using a gentle cleanser, light moisturizer, gentle exfoliant, and antioxidant serum as a part of your regular skincare regimen. Most importantly, you should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 when spending time in the sun and reapply every 2 hours for continued protection. Knowing which products are best for your skin type can feel challenging, so a great first step in adjusting your skincare routine is scheduling an appointment with an expert, board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Green.

Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renowned board-certified cosmetic dermatologist with over two and a half decades of experience providing her patients worldwide with the best non-invasive cosmetic treatment options for every season. Castle Connolly, New York Magazine, Super Doctors, and the New York Times consistently identify Dr. Green as one of NYC’s best dermatologists for her dedication to her patients and expertise. When you consult with Dr. Green at her private dermatology office in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood, she will work with you to create a personalized plan that incorporates the best specially formulated skincare products and non-invasive treatments for taking care of your skin in the summer. Please call us at 212-535-3088 or contact our New York City-based office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Michele Green and improve your summer skincare routine.

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