As we start to shed our winter woollies and swap them out for a lighter summer wardrobe, we should think about doing the same for our skincare. Your skin's needs change from season to season, so what worked for you in the harsh, colder months, doesn't necessarily cut the beauty mustard in the sunnier, warmer weather. Our skin may crave added deep moisturisation during the long months of icy, windy weather complete with complexion-drying central heating, but it requires different protection during the sunnier, dryer months of summer.
By simply swapping to a water-based moisturiser, and adding an anti-oxidant serum and hard-working SPF you'll be taking extra care of your skin health, which will pay you dividends all your life.
Anti-oxidants are chemicals that neutralise another type of chemical called free radicals, which have the potential to harm cells. UV rays are a top source of free radicals. On the outside, free-radical damage results in skin lines, sagging, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and dull skin. Internally it creates inflammation, which can lead to heart, lung, and gastrointestinal diseases and some cancers. We can eat anti-oxidant rich food to improve our overall health. By applying anti-oxidants topically to the skin and hair, via serums and moisturisers, we can "feed" the skin cells that are exposed to the sun. Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, is a brilliant summer anti-oxidant, as it repairs cells so they can restore collagen production. Other great skin anti-oxidants to keep an eye out for are green tea oil and extract, and sea kelp extract.
By protecting our skin from the sun, we may be doing the most important thing for our skin to banish wrinkles, with new US studies suggesting that up to 90pc of cosmetic skin problems associated with ageing could actually be from sun damage, not the normal ageing process itself.
Patch it up
Elbows, knees and especially feet will soon be making their summer debut, so use a heavy duty moisturiser now, especially one with an exfoliating acid, to tackle dry patches of skin. Try Dovocare, €12.95, from pharmacies nationwide.
The best trick for getting a natural summer glow is to exfoliate the skin. However, one of the most common skincare errors - particularly made by those with mature and/or dry skin - is over-exfoliating and stripping the skin, which ultimately worsens the problem. While many of us use a grainy, gritty-style exfoliant to feel like we're really sloughing away dead skin cells, actually we're better opting for an acid liquid or microfoliant (a powder-based exfoliant which you rub on dry and remove with warm water). Try ILUMA Intense Brightening Exfoliating Powder €39.50. This ultra-soft polishing powder removes debris and oil from pores firmly but gently and will last ages.
Vitamin C anti-oxidants
A Vitamin C anti-oxidant serum is a brilliant addition to your summer skincare routine, as it acts as a "mop" to absorb all the free radicals created by UV rays, helping to decrease photo-ageing and brighten the skin. Vichy's Lift Active Vitamin C Brightening Skin Corrector, €27, brightens skin in 10 days with a visible improvement tone. Use under your normal moisturiser.
The Juliette Armand Element Glow C Serum may seem like a teeny tiny bottle for €44 but you only need a mere drop of this for the anti-oxidant to work. Press, rather than rub this into the skin, as the texture is quite dry. From salons and spas nationwide, see juliettearmand.ie.
NOTE: It's important to note that SPF must be worn in conjunction with your Vitamin C serum, as it can make skin more sensitive to the sun. Think of them as 'skincare twins' - always used together.
For normal skin
This ultra-fine transparent mineral sunscreen has a tint that smooths imperfections and blurs skin tone, making it a great option for makeup-free days throughout the summer months. It can also be used before makeup application. NeoStrata's Targeted Sheer Physical Protection SPF 50 (mineral sunscreen), €32.50, from pharmacies nationwide.
For sensitive skin/pale complexions
Chemical filters in many traditional (ie non-mineral) SPF products can cause irritation in sensitive skin. Avene's Mineral Fluid SPF 50+, €21, from pharmacies nationwide, is a 100pc mineral suncare product suitable for even the most sensitive skin. Coming in both tinted and non-tinted formulas, this is an excellent choice for the super pale-skinned as it's clinically proven to be 90pc photostable - not eroded by the light - after two hours. Traditional sunscreens are only 50-70pc photostable after this time.
For oily skin
For oily skin, a brilliant SPF option is Glo Therapeutics Oil Free, SPF 40, €37, from skinshop.ie.
For a fast-acting injection of hydration, you can't go wrong with a sheet mask. Clarins Super Restorative Serum Sheet Mask - €78/box of 5 or €18 for an individual mask - is one of the most luxurious options. It's brilliant for mature skin, as it includes the neck area. From department stores and pharmacies nationwide. For a cheaper option, but without the neck care, try Neutrogena Hydrogel Recovery Sheet Mask Hydro Boost, €4 each, from pharmacies nationwide.
Not just for skincare, water-based products are a new trend in self-tanning. This tanning mist is vegan and has organic-derived ingredients. Choose the Peach Mist for paler skins, the Green Mist for medium skin tones that have a red undertone, and the Violet Mist for a deeper tan. It eliminates any 'jaundiced' tone to the skin. Isle of Paradise Tanning Water Mists, €24.99, from Boots nationwide.
A water-based, gel product that is jam-packed with anti-oxidants, polyphenols, hyaluronic acid, vitamins and peptides. This basically acts as a tall glass of water for your skin. The 'water burst technology' means that the technique you use to apply it is important: press and firmly dab it onto your skin, as you need to "burst" the water bubbles within for them to work. From salons nationwide, see renaissance-skincare.com for stockists.
To control the colour of your facial tan, opt for drops that you add to your moisturiser or rub in on their own. I love James Read for face tanning. His products don't clog my skin, have any orange undertone or dry out my face. These have aloe vera water and hyaluronic acid for an added punch of hydration. Wash hands thoroughly after application, and dab off with cotton wool/wipe your upper lip, hairline and brows. James Read H20 Tan Drops face, €35, from pharmacies nationwide and cloud10beauty.com.
Vichy Aqua Thermal Dynamic Hydrator Serum, €24, and Moisturiser, €15.50, have a light-as-a-feather texture perfect for the warmer summer months, and great for the gym all year round. From pharmacies nationwide.