A simple approach to skin care makes sense in the summer, but there are also special challenges. You surely already know that you should wear sun protection daily to avoid premature aging and skin cancer, but you might not recognize the more immediate problems caused by heat and humidity. If your skin is dry, it may look and feel better in the warmer months. But if it's oily, the heat and humidity of summer can make it feel more so.

Small adjustments in the products you use can mean the difference between good skin and problem skin. For example, if your skin tends to be oily, start with a soap-free cleanser and finish with a few swipes of an alcohol-free toner, suggests Jeanine Downie, M.D., director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey. "You'll remove makeup and dirt, but you won't strip the skin of all oils or cause irritation," she says.

Exfoliation, important in warmer weather when you're revealing more skin, can easily be overdone, so proceed with caution. "Exfoliating scrubs, sea sponges and loofahs are great for elbows, knees and heels, but keep them away from the face," says Downie. Using scrubs on the face can produce microtears in the skin that can lead to uneven pigmentation if you're exposed to the sun. A much better approach is to use a cleanser and/or moisturizer with an alpha-hydroxy acid, such as glycolic acid or lactic acid. These exfoliate, improving the skin's tone and texture.

If you normally use moisturizer every day, you may find that your skin will benefit from a lighter, oil-free formulation in the summer. Most oil-free moisturizers contain silicone or glycerin-based ingredients that provide moisture without feeling heavy or clogging pores. To lighten up, consider using a dual-purpose product like an SPF moisturizer. If you don't need a moisturizer, you could use a foundation with an SPF. If you like wearing foundation but would prefer lighter coverage, consider a tinted moisturizer.


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