The essential face regimen - how to look after your face through the seasons
Why does your face routine matter? A well-rounded line-up keeps the seasonal skin disruptors at bay. Approach with care.
Your skincare routine should never be set in stone, in fact, it’s necessary you remain flexible throughout the year as each season brings with it a different set of skin-related challenges.
Why does adjusting your face routine matter? Studies show that “environmental exposures to ultraviolet radiation, wind” and wild weather can “progressively damage the skin's cellular and extracellular structures resulting in wrinkles, sagging skin, irregular pigmentation, and skin cancers”. It is essential then that you modify your routine to protect against these environmental stressors. In short, tailoring your face regimen to the seasons should be as commonplace as switching up your wardrobe to match the weather.
Here, we detail how to achieve beautiful, healthy skin all year long, sorting through difficult questions like how to choose a cleanser in winter versus summer, what face oil is really for and whether you need a toner.
What should your face regimen be?
There is no perfect formula for developing an essential face regimen but there are a few key questions to bear in mind as you customise your routine. First, be clear about what your skin type is and how your skin is changing as you age. This step is crucial to ensure you’re reaching for the right formulations and textures. Secondly, be aware that your routine may require month-to-month tweaks, especially during the trans-seasonal months (autumn and spring) when weather is unpredictable erratic, and your skin needs help to adjust.
Below is an easy-to-follow guide that tackles the how, why, and when to tailor and tune an essential face regimen to ensure skin is soothed, protected and nourished throughout the year.
How to cultivate an essential face regimen in summer
Summer skin requires lightweight, non-greasy textures that are easily layered and play well with the change in humidity. Make the switch to gel or mild foaming cleansers that are tough on sweat, excess sebum and dirt but won’t leave residue behind. A gentle chemical or physical exfoliation is a must in summer to remove slough away impurities. A daily exfoliant will also remove any remaining sunscreen at the end of the day, while a stronger exfoliant used once or twice a week will keep skin clear and prepped for actives.
Must-have products and ingredients for a summer face regimen
Sun, sand, chlorine and air conditioning can strip skin of moisture so it's vital you both restore and protect. Sunscreen is, of course, a must non-negotiable for face and body during the summer months—just don’t forget delicate areas like the eyelids, lips and décolletage when applying your SPF. Opt for hydrating, antioxidant-rich serums that will nurture and defend, and consider slotting in a hydrating mask once a week to replenish. Those with combination or acne-prone skin may prefer a clay or charcoal mask that draws out dirt impurities while nourishing with vitamins and minerals.
How to cultivate an essential face regimen in autumn
A trans-seasonal skincare routine requires careful planning and regular adjustments to ensure your complexion is getting what it needs. Tricky weather, an increase in heating and a sudden drop in temperature can wreak havoc on skin, so now is the time to slowly switch to richer textures and repair summer damage. Research shows that “low humidity and low temperatures lead to a general decrease in skin barrier function and increased susceptibility towards mechanical stress”.
Must-have products and ingredients for an autumn face regimen
Protect barrier function by amping up hydration—think: hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, jojoba and argan oils—and thicker daily moisturisers that support skin. Although, those with oily or acneic skin may prefer to stick with lightweight textures. Choose cleansing oils and milks packed with calendula, green tea, oats or chamomile that wash away impurities while soothing irritation and reducing flaking. Those with drier skin may prefer to add in a cleansing balm to replenish lipids. Now is the time to switch in a chemical exfoliant (read: gentle AHAs or BHAs) to resurface and improve skin tone while restoring glow. Layering in oils, essences and toners can boost hydration, deliver skin-loving antioxidants and calm skin too. SPF remains essential as UV levels remain high all year long in Australia and other countries around the world. Remember: cold weather doesn’t remove the need for sun protection.
How to cultivate an essential face regimen in winter
Double down on layering in the midst of winter to ensure skin is given the hydration and defence it needs. Indoor heating, colder temperatures, wind and rain can wear skin down so be sure to amp up your autumn regimen by reaching for creamy or balm-like cleansers and multitasking, intensive moisturisers enriched with peptides, antioxidants, vitamins and omega fatty acids.
Must-have products and ingredients for a winter face regimen
Now is also the time to consider slotting in retinol (vitamin A) as “convincing evidence shows that topical application of retinoids has an effect on reversing... mild to moderate photodamage” and pigmentation while promoting cell turnover. Heavy-duty actives like retinol make skin more sensitive to the sun, which is why winter–when the sun is at its weakest–is an ideal time to include them in your regimen. Oils and masks should be used on heavier rotation come winter, as they can soothe, calm and nourish skin or treat problems as they arise. Look for treatments brimming with shea butter and sea-buckthorn, rose hip, avocado and almond oils, which deliver essential fatty acids, fight inflammation and lock in moisture.
How to cultivate an essential face regimen in spring
Spring calls for a regimen overhaul, a chance to clear out expired products and pare back your rotation. There’s a reason it’s called a spring clean! The rise in temperature and change in humidity calls for lightweight textures to be rotated back in in preparation for summer. Just be sure to make these changes slowly to give skin time to adjust.
Must-have products and ingredients for a spring face regimen
Reach for oil-free or gel moisturisers over heavy creams and amp up exfoliation via a more thorough repertoire, slotting in an AHA peel, or enzymatic cleanser or mask; it is important to remove slough away dead, dull skin left over from winter and prep your canvas for what’s to come.Studies indicate that “antioxidants and alpha-hydroxy acids can alter the skin structure and function” so customise your face regimen to include serums that enhance complement your exfoliation routine. Look for hydrators with actives that fight sun damage and deliver powerful potent antioxidants while you turn up SPF protection.