Forget rich, heavy creams and pasty limbs, here are five simple ways to embrace the warmer weather and brighter, longer days…
It may not feel like it at the moment (what, with snowstorms, gale-force winds and all-around wintry rain) but spring is here and summer is on the horizon. Our thoughts are turning to picnics in the park and lazy days on the beach all whilst soaking up well-needed rays.
And as we plan to spend more time outside in the (hopefully) glorious weather, it's time to ditch our heavy hooded parka coats in exchange for lighter denim jackets; thick heavy boots will blossom into strappy sandals and we can once again bid adieu to tights. But just like your wardrobe, your skin deserves an update, too.
Heat and humidity increase oil production, which means your skincare may require an adjustment. The moisturiser you relied on to combat winter dryness is likely too heavy for this time of year. And, while a moisturiser with SPF 15 was enough to protect your skin from winter's UV rays, you probably need something a little stronger now that the sun is out.
The point is, while we may be more than ready to run right into sunny floral dresses, our skin needs a little more time to adapt. Picking products that target these new, seasonal concerns can help our skin transition more seamlessly.
How, then, to prep the face for sunnier days ahead? We spoke to Selene Daly, dermatology nurse and RELIFE Specialist Advisor, for her tips on getting healthy, gorgeous skin just in time for summer.
Streamline your skincare
Whether you've bought a tonne of skincare during lockdown or you can't remember the last time you cleared out your skincare stash, it's high time you do so. "It’s a good time of year to go declutter your products, both for your face and body," says Daly. "If it’s been open for more than 6-12 months or if you don’t use it anymore, dispose of it." But if you've more products than you know what to do with it, the idea of decluttering your skincare shelf can be an overwhelming thought. "We typically have more products than we would ever need, so consider what you use on a regular basis and bin the rest," advises Daly. "Since I started in dermatology, I keep it simple, using Relizema lipid replenishing cleanser (€18) and moisturiser. The cleanser is a soap-free gel with water-attracting molecules to hydrate, niacinamide to smooth and even out irregularities, and three types of ceramides to soothe and repair the skin’s barrier."
Include an acid
To the less beauty-savvy, applying acid to your skin is a terrifying thought but one we shouldn't be scared of. "While exfoliation is a good idea, using gritty physical exfoliators made up of shells, grains or other abrasive materials is not recommended," tells Daly. "This method of exfoliating only works superficially, and aggressively exfoliating the skin in this way can cause irritation and a worsening of skin conditions such as eczema and acne." Instead, you should look to chemical exfoliators such as skincare acids. "It sounds terrifying but it is a safe and effective way of refining and brightening skin and removing dead cells," explains Daly. "Look for products containing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) to improve cell turnover and promote a brighter, more youthful appearance."
Add an antioxidant
You've probably heard about these things called free radicals. Basically, they're the bad guys of the skincare world that can wreak havoc on your skin. Antioxidants are the superheroes in this scenario. "Antioxidants come into their own in spring when stronger UV rays can damage skin. Not only can too much sun cause direct DNA damage, leading to skin cancers, but it can also break down collagen and elastin, due to UV-induced free radicals. Collagens are the building blocks of our skin and elastin helps with the skin elasticity," explains Daly. "Including an antioxidant serum, such as vitamin C, into your morning routine, can help strengthen the skin’s barrier to make it less susceptible to UV and environmental damage. If you are new to vitamin C, begin with a lower concentration, 5%, and introduce it every other day. Try to wait about 30 minutes before applying your high factor sunscreen."
Attend to your extremities
When it comes to skincare, we all too often forget about our bodies. From that itchy feeling that results from not applying enough lotion to battling a patch of KP (keratosis pillars) on the backs of your arms, whatever might be ailing you, it's time to start bringing our skincare below our necks. "Heels, elbows and knees tend to experience more skin build-up than any other area on our bodies," says Daly. "Adding urea into your moisturising routine is a great way of removing dead cells and U-Life 50 Cream for Localised Hyperkeratosis (€20) is a high potency urea-based moisturiser with keratolytic action that works its magic on areas of very dry and cracked skin," advises Daly. "Apply it to heels and feet, pull on clean cotton socks and leave overnight. When you wake up, remove socks and shower as normal. Dab a little on elbows and knees too before applying fake tan."
Invest in new SPF
By now, you know the importance of wearing SPF every day – even on cloudy days and even when indoors – but come Summer, it's time to up the dosage. "The first of March every year marks the beginning of the ‘Sunsmart’ season meaning that the levels of UV light are strong enough to have a negative impact on our skin," tells Daly. "The cornerstone of any good skincare routine must start with religiously using SPF 50 daily between March and September. 90-95 per cent of skin cancers are attributed to overexposure to UV light and 80 per cent of the visible signs of ageing are caused by UV light."
"Be mindful of the expiration date of your sunscreen, too." warns Daly. "If you were using it last summer, chance are the ingredients in the formula have broken down, making it useless."
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Main image by Alieza Rizvie on Unsplash