Summer sadly can’t last forever, but with these end-of-summer skincare must-dos you will continue to glow into autumn and beyond
Ah, summertime. We’re far less stressed, spend copious amounts of time in the moisture-rich fresh air, enjoy purifying, remineralising dips in the sea, and – we won’t lie – our tans make us feel glorious. If only summer skin could last forever…
But soon comes the realisation that your skin is now quite dry and dull and displays more little lines. Some post-summer special skincare measures are in order. “The upper layers of the skin will have thickened due to it being threatened by the heat and sun exposure - it’s skin's way of protecting itself,” says skincare expert and consultant Fiona Brackenbury.
A smattering of uneven pigmentation and dark spots is also likely: that’s full-on UV damage coming through. Besides that, you may also be suffering from breakouts. Your good summer habits – the best face SPF combined with working up a sweat in the great outdoors – can build up in your pores. Add in this summer's humidity, and you have a breeding ground for bacteria, points out Fiona Brackenbury.
But start now with the right skincare strategies, and all will be sorted out.
1. Clear out gunk – grab a facial cleansing mask
A few sessions with a good purifying or deep-cleansing mask will go a long way to clearing any congestion that may have built up from layers of sunscreen and a permanent sheen of perspiration. Choose formulas with ingredients prized for their ability to extract oils and debris from your pores, such as salicylic acid, clays and charcoal, but are hydrating at the same time. You do not want to parch already-stressed skin.
For that same reason, never let your clay mask dry to the point of it cracking, as that’s when it starts sapping skin of water.
These single-use shots cause a mild chemical reaction that deeply cleanses pores, but also soften and hydrate skin
A kaolin and Hungarian mud-based mask bursting with conditioning minerals, glycerin and rose oil that will nourish and hydrate while drawing out impurities.
2. Commit to a gentle exfoliating acid
This may be a good time to use a chemical exfoliating acid regularly for a week or two as a deep cleansing course for your skin. But don’t go hell for leather: your skin has sustained enough harsh treatment already from all that sun. Brackenbury recommends a gentle polyhydroxy acid (PHA) toner or serum: it will not only help free up your pores and clear the sun-fried dead cells away without irritation (you can use PHAs daily), it will also deep-hydrate your parched skin.
Alternatively, try a non-scratchy enzyme powder scrub to gently loosen debris.
PHAs plus anti-inflammatory phytic acid and hydrating hyaluronic acid will quench as much as they will get rid of dullness and congestion.
The fine and foaming enzyme powder comes in four varieties to suit different skin types; gentle, classic and deep. It uses papaya enzymes and rice bran to gently break down dry, dead skin cells. Mix a tiny bit with water – it lasts ages.
3. Rough limbs begone - peel that body with a lactic acid lotion
Your limbs will start feeling rougher as you leave your holiday further behind - sun, salt and chlorine have sapped them of moisture. Plus, every tan eventually results in peeling: a tan is a sign of DNA damage and the body is busy clearing dead and damaged skin away.
To help the process along in a gentle way, reach for lactic acid lotions, which are as gently smoothing for the body as they are hydrating, or salicylic, which smoothes and decongests. And no, they won’t melt off all of your tan; under that initial scaly layer, your skin will still have a sunny glow.
We also love sliding in a foot peel at this time of year and have rounded up the best foot peels for you.
Beauty Pie Acidenzyme Exfoliating Cleanser, £28.50 for members
Dissolves dirt with salicylic acid and gobbles away old cells with fruit enzymes.
Lactic acid to gently peel, niacinamide and bakuchiol to brighten and calm.
4. Replenish sun-damaged skin with an antioxidant serum
UV radiation induces free-radical damage which ages skin prematurely. Antioxidants (AOX) are the sworn enemy of free radicals, so an AOX serum is always key in your sunscreen or as a serum or oil layered under it.
But don’t stop now that the days get shorter: you need antioxidants to fight the lingering free radical fires in your skin and help repair any damage done. Vitamin C has been the all-conquering AOX hero for a while now and it’s a great one to have in the mix, but don’t stare yourself blind on it. "In truth, there are plenty of far more powerful antioxidants out there,” says Georgie Cleeve, the creator and skincare expert behind Oskia. She favours, among others, “Coenzyme Q10 - but the most important thing is to have a cocktail of AOX to mop up the wide variety of free radicals,” she says.
One of the most broad-spectrum AOX heroes available, this reduces free radicals by up to 98% with the help of CoQ10, astaxanthin, niacinamide and much more.
Antioxidant-rich seed oils plus the healing benefits of their fatty acids.
5. Calm sensitive skin with a cica serum or face mist
UV as well as intense heat can be a nightmare for rosacea sufferers says Brackenbury. “You may find the summer has left your skin more sensitive.” She recommends looking for moisture quenchers that major on skin-soothing actives “such as allantoin and cica.”
Packed with soothing anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants from many plant sources.
Instant calm from a hyaluronic acid mist spiked with antioxidants, anti-bacterial plant actives and centella asiatica (cica).
6. Moisturise and hydrate like it's going out of fashion
Even if you never use a moisturiser, this is probably a time to add one to your regime. As you can tell from the additional fine lines on your face, the sun really has de-plumped your dermis. Even ceramides, the lipids that form part of your natural moisture-loss-preventing barrier, wither under the influence of UV, according to advanced skincare therapist Kate Kerr.
So products that put back both water and lipids are important, but you don’t need to resort to heavyweight creams. Fashionable water gels creams are just the ticket; see below for two great suggestions or check out these 13 of the best gel cream moisturisers.
UK-harvested raspberry seed oil, hyaluronic acid and fermented probiotics make for a rich gel that’ll make you wake up plumper.
Plenty of ceramides and beta-glucan, both naturally found in the skin to keep the moisture barrier strong, in a weightless water-based gel.
7. Drink your skincare with an antioxidant-rich ingestible
There are plenty of supplements that are beneficial for your skin but the ones to concentrate on right now are those with powerful antioxidants and rehydrating agents, mirroring what you’re trying to do topically.
Dirtea Matcha Superblend, £53.99
This soothing, milky matcha/mushroom powder that you turn into a drink as tremella mushroom which helps the skin make more hyaluronic acid, alongside a load of protective antioxidants.
Plant-derived amino acids to boost plumping collagen production plus antioxidants A, C and E and prickly pear juice, all in handy flavour-free sachets to dump into a drink.
8. Beat back hyperpigmentation
Some of the hyperpigmentation (freckles, brown blotches) you’ve sustained from overexposure to the sun will fade after a while, but much of it will not. “Pigmentation will be waving back at you right now and there is no better time to get on top of it,” says Brackenbury.
Details about the best ways to fight pigmentation are here. But the main takeaway is not to rely on a single much-hyped pigment-fighting ingredient. Pigmentation can only successfully be treated with a complex of ingredients that address all of the pathways the blotches form through. So what you want is a complex of tyrosinase inhibitors - actives put the breaks on brown patches forming in the first place (such as arbutin, azelaic acid and tranexamic acid), and ingredients that help fade existing pigment, such as niacinamide, acids and vitamin C.
These blends are most effective as serums, applied under any lotions and creams.
All-round pigment busting with niacinamide, salicylic acid, glucosamine, kojic acid and retinoids… phew.
Tranexamic acid and arbutin, a complex of acids, a complex of peptides and more all work together to create a pigment-fading blend that’s safe for all skin tones.
9. Keep up the daily SPF habit
Lastly, don’t even think about swearing off your SPF till next summer. A daily dose with a broad spectrum, superior UVA protection is the single most important way of keeping your skin recovery on track, says Brackenbury. “UVA is present all year round and it’s the ray that travels the deepest into the skin.” And it wreaks the most visible havoc. Re-applying every two hours won’t be necessary when it’s cloudy and rainy so you can resort to elegant ‘daily SPF moisturiser’ formulas. But make sure you’re never without your SPF30 or 50!