By: Sarah Kester
In the transition from winter to spring, many of us “spring clean” our lives. It’s out with the old and in with the new as we visit the hair salon for a shorter ‘do, Marie Kondo every last inch of our homes and stow away our chunky sweaters to make room for our favorite floral dresses.
But in the midst of all this change, we have to wonder: What about our beauty routines?
If your skin was singing the blues this past winter by showing any or all of the following signs – dryness, flakiness, tight skin and even blemish flare-ups – then it’s definitely time to give it some R&R by spring cleaning your skincare routine with these essential tips.
One of the first things to do for your skin following the harshness of winter is get into an exfoliation routine. By doing so, you will reap the benefits of smoothing your skin’s texture, unclogging pores, and removing dead skin cells, explains Sarah Nicole Payne, an expert licensed esthetician to Lively.
With benefits as great as these, you may be tempted to make exfoliation a part of your daily routine. But it’s also important to allow your skin time to recover. Instead, aim for two to three times a week — and once for those with sensitive skin, says Dr. Anthony Youn, Beauty Doc and Host of the Holistic Plastic Surgery Show podcast.
Loofahs have become such a mainstay in bathtubs and showers that many people don’t think too much about it anymore, despite using it almost daily to cleanse and exfoliate their bodies. Because of this, it’s easy to be alarmed once you learn that loofahs can be a breeding ground for bacteria if not replaced often enough.
This spring, you have a choice: Replace your existing loofah for a clean one or ditch it entirely. “You can skip the loofah and use a mild body cleanser containing glycolic acid and/or lactic acid in the wash or post-shower,” says Neekan Rivera, a dermatologist and physician's assistant at Motykie Med Spa (the spa where celebs like Kylie Jenner and Mel B from the Spice Girls like to frequent). “Using a glycolic wash or cream is essentially an extended release of cellular turnover.”
It may be the skincare habit that celebrities like Miranda Kerr and Gwyneth swear by, but don’t be fooled into thinking that dry brushing is just a trend. Even dermatologists recommend it!
“When used correctly and on the right skin type, dry brushing is an exfoliation technique using a brush on dry skin to remove dead skin,” explains Kerry Benjamin, an L.A.-based licensed esthetician, to Lively. For maximum results, brush towards your heart to allow better lymphatic drainage, increase blood flow, and exfoliate your skin, says Dr. Youn.
If you have sensitive skin, find a dry brush that’s suitable for this or, if you want to skip it entirely, use a body peel instead for similar results.
“Coming out of winter, we should be switching our heavy creams for lighter formulas as our skin begins to experience more oil and less dehydration,” says Payne. She advises that you may even need to adjust your usual cleanser in the springtime in order to remove excess oil and sweat from warmer weather.
There are some products you may even want to ditch for spring. Apricot scrub is one, says Rivera. “The scrub is too abrasive and people tend to improperly use it by pushing too hard. This ends up micro cutting the tissue.”
Another product she recommends avoiding for spring is coconut oil, which may come as a surprise as it’s been used as a mainstay in many people’s health and beauty routines for years.
“Continuous use of coconut oil can actually congest the skin and cause more harm or good,” she explains. “Switching to a smaller molecule of oil such as jojoba oil or grapeseed oil is recommended.”
Even in the dead of winter when it can feel so frigid, you should still be applying sunscreen. “The sun emits harmful UV rays all year, even during the winter,” says Dr. Youn.
You shouldn’t just slather on the first sunscreen you find, Benjamin tells Lively, suggesting that you consider your skin’s needs first. “Sunscreens fall into two categories: Chemical, which means the ingredients are absorbed by skin to then protect against UV damage; and physical, which deflect UV rays.”
She adds that there are also brands that formulate combination sunscreens, which are both chemical and physical in nature. “If your skin is prone to sensitivities, I always recommend clients use a physical sunscreen, which drastically decreases any chances of irritation.”
To make applying sunscreen more of a habit, Payne suggests finding a formula that you actually like and leaving the bottle sitting on your counter or somewhere where you’ll remember to put it on in the morning. Also, don’t just apply it, re-apply it – about every two to three hours.
Even if you complete a major spring clean overhaul on your beauty tools this spring, it’s still not enough. “Cleaning your beauty tools should be a regular and frequent practice and not something that’s reserved for particular seasons,” explains Benjamin.
If you’re having a hard time making it part of your routine, Di Medlock, one of the leading estheticians and Spa Operations for Exhale, says to think about it like this: “Why spend so much money on cleansing and exfoliating products to cleanse the skin and then work harmful germs right back in?”
Not only that, but also consider the bacteria that can build up on beauty products like makeup brushes and subsequently contribute to blemishes, explains Dr. Youn.
As for how often you should be cleaning your beauty tools, aim for cleaning your brushes on a weekly basis and giving them a good spritz with a cleansing spray after each use. For the brush head on your cleansing face brush, aim to replace the head every few months. Also, Payne says not to forget about other beauty products like jade rollers, gua sha, and so on — all of which should be cleaned after each use.
Along with things to ditch for spring, there are also products that you should consider investing in for an instant refresh. For example, Dr. Youn recommends adding a combination of vitamin C and E antioxidant serum every morning. When taken together, studies have actually shown that this creates a synergistic effect, thus making them both even stronger. Vital Proteins Glow Collagen Shot contains key skincare ingredients like vitamin C, biotin, and 60mg of hyaluronic acid, which helps to maintain the skin’s moisture levels.
The most important thing to remember, though, is that spring is a transitional time for skincare. “We never recommend a full skincare routine revamp,” says Medlock. Doing so could even cause quite the shock to your skin, which is why it’s best to start with small adjustments to your routine.
A good place to start could just be going makeup-free some days to let your skin breathe.
While winter may be the time of hibernation — as in, hiding away in our warmest blankets and taking a sabbatical from some of our usual routines — spring is a time of transition, a time of awakening and hitting the reset button.
By following any or all of these tips, you will be thankful you are paying attention to these areas again, especially with summer just right around the corner. By then, we will hopefully feel confident being more on display.