10 Summer Beauty Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Skin
How many of these skincare mistakes are you guilty of?
If it seems like there are a lot of skincare rules to follow, it’s probably because there are. Some rules are more hard and fast than others, but it’s always best to adhere to expert advice to ensure your skin is happy, healthy, and glowing all year long. Proper skincare is especially important in the summer thanks to humidity, heat, chlorine, and Ms. Sunshine. We asked a handful of skincare experts to share the most common summer skincare mistakes they see in their practices—and tips on how to avoid them.
This may feel like a no-brainer, but skipping sunscreen is one of the most common summer (and winter, for that matter) skincare mistakes. Skin protection is key since UV radiation causes skin cancer and signs of premature aging. It should be worn every single day, all year round.
It’s not just a matter of wearing sunscreen; you also need to make sure you’re applying it at the right time in your beauty routine, which depend on the type of SPF you’re using. “If you're using a physical sunscreen, it needs to be the last thing you put on your face on top of makeup,” says Dr. Deanne Robinson, a board-certified dermatologist based in Westport, Connecticut. “If it’s a chemical sunscreen, it would need to be applied under your makeup.” Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin to create a physical barrier, whereas chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin to absorb, convert, and release UV rays.
The second biggest summer skincare mistake people make is forgetting to reapply their sunscreen. “SPF degrades in the sun and ceases to protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays,” says Dr. Howard Sobel, a NYC board-certified dermatologist. “To avoid getting burnt, make sure to always reapply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every 60 to 90 minutes while you are out in the sun.”
Sobel recommends setting a timer on your phone if you plan to be out in the sun for longer than 45 minutes. At the beach or pool, sunscreen should also be reapplied every time you get out of the water. “If you are wearing makeup, reapply with an SPF powder or use a microfiber sponge to reapply liquid sunscreen,” he says. “Also, remember to protect your scalp using sunscreens especially designed for the hair and scalp, or with a hat that has UPF protection.”
Even if your foundation or BB cream contains SPF, you must still wear sunscreen with it. Think of this added protection as icing on the SPF cake versus a replacement. You’re simply not putting enough product on for it to make enough of an impact, says Dr. Jessica Wright, a general surgery specialist at Rejuvenate Austin in Texas. “Your makeup likely won’t filter UVA, UVB, and high energy visible light well enough on its own,” she says. Try an SPF that doubles as a primer, such as Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen ($16; supergoop.com) or ZO Skin Health Oclipse ($65; zoskinhealth.com).
“While exfoliating your skin is the key to healthy, smooth, dewy skin, you should only exfoliate at night,” says Sobel. “That layer of dead skin cells acts as a layer of protection from UV rays. AHAs, BHAs, retinol/retinoids should all be used at night, as well, as they can all make your skin even more sensitive and susceptible to sunburns.”
Waxing or shaving your bikini line or legs hours before you hit the beach or pool is another common summer skincare mistake. Unfortunately, most people don’t even realize they’re doing anything wrong—until the side effects kick in. “Waxing, laser hair removal, and shaving are often last-minute investments before we decide to visit the pool or ocean, but it can often lead to some serious skin irritation from the sun, sunscreen, and sand,” says Leila Aalam, an aesthetician and founder of Beuti Skincare.
With shaving and waxing, it’s best to give yourself 24 to 48 hours. For laser hair removal, Felicia Taghizadeh, the owner of Arizona Facial Plastics, says to wait much longer. “If you are going to be in the sun or outside within 10 days of a laser treatment, you can damage your results, cause pigmentation issues, and delay healing. Lasers are great when you have time indoors to recover,” she says.
Using the same cleanser during the summer as in the winter probably isn’t doing you any favors, says Taghizadeh. “In the summer, you need more frequent [evening] exfoliation, especially if you are getting sun exposure and spending time outdoors,” she says. “Try switching to a glycolic wash, something that has a gentle exfoliant, or use an actual [physical or chemical] exfoliator on a weekly basis.” Try Derma E Essentials Radiance Toner ($15; dermae.com), a gentle, alcohol-free, exfoliating toner.
“Lips are actually extremely susceptible to UV damage and sunburns,” says Sobel. “They lack melanin that your skin produces to help protect it, and the sheen of lip balms and lip glosses actually attracts damaging UV rays more.” Not wearing SPF on your lips increases your risk for skin cancer and can thin your lips faster since the sun breaks down collagen. Try Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm ($4; rei.com).
There’s an old myth that says getting a base tan will prevent you from getting sunburned later. This is false, and only damages your skin. “Don’t go in a tanning bed to ‘build a base’ before you're in the sun. Tanning beds are horrible—period,” says Robinson. “Research shows that going in a tanning bed just once increases your risk of melanoma, and that risk continues to rise with each use. Furthermore, there is no such thing as a ‘base’ or ‘healthy tan.’ A tan is a sign that you’ve had UV damage.”
Laying out in the sun to create a tan isn’t any better. There are plenty of faux tan alternatives that will give you that summer glow without increasing your risk of cancer or premature aging. Try St. Tropez Gradual Tan Watermelon Infusion Body Lotion ($25; sephora.com).
“Make sure you cleanse your skin after a long day outside in the sand and water,” says Aalam. “If you can’t reach a restroom for several hours to get a thorough rinse, bring along cleansing wipes to remove any dirt and debris from the day and follow with a moisturizing SPF.” Try French beauty favorite Bioderma Sensibio H2O Wipes ($10; amazon.com).
Even if you weren’t at the pool or beach, it’s still important to wash your face before bed. “Failing to cleanse your face adequately at night leaves sunscreen, pollen, oils, and sweat on your skin,” says Wright. “Simply cleansing your skin is often not enough. You need to lather and rinse your skin twice to fully remove all those impurities. Doing this will make skin appear clearer and healthier.”
Related: 11 Steps to Better Skin
Summer usually means humidity, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to skip out on moisturizer. “Make sure to keep your skin hydrated even if you feel a little oilier during the summer months,” Aalam says. She recommends bringing along a non-alcohol face mist and spritzing it throughout the day. Also, try switching to a water-based moisturizer versus an oil-based option. Some good options include Tatcha The Water Cream ($68; sephora.com) and Langiege Water Bank Moisture Cream ($35; sephora.com).