Do you need a summer skin care routine? The answer is yes! Claudia Pfau and Samantha Ramos, the skin care gurus behind Uncover the Glow, share how to achieve the perfect summer glow.
Story and photography by Claudia Pfau and Samantha Ramos
Your skin is constantly changing thanks to environmental stressors, hormone fluctuations, changes in diet and overall emotional stress, and, as you can imagine, all of these things change with the seasons. Keeping up with your skin’s needs can be totally overwhelming — we know!
After experimenting with endless products and routines, we’ve narrowed down our go-to steps for a summer skin care routine, because summer is not over yet, friends!
Step 1: Cleanser
Always start and end your day with a clean face, especially if you’ve been wearing sunscreen. We keep our skin squeaky clean with the double cleansing method — a Korean practice for maintaining clear skin where you wash your face with an oil cleanser and follow up with a water-based cleanser.
Oil cleansing is great at drawing out excess sebum, built-up SPF and other pollutants, while water-based cleansing is better at getting rid of sweat and dirt. In the summer, you really do need both!
You can either oil cleanse using raw oils like almond oil, hazelnut oil or olive oil, or you can buy oil-based cleansers like the Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil or the Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser — two of our all-time favorites!
When it comes to water-based cleansers, we like to rotate between cream cleansers and exfoliating cleansers that contain ceramides and glycerin (a.k.a super hydrating ingredients for our skin). Our summer go-tos are the La Roche-Posay Hydrating Gentle Cleanser and the Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser.
Step 2: Toner
Toning is often skipped, but in reality is an essential step to everyone’s skin care routine — no matter the season! Every toner’s main purpose is to balance the pH levels of your skin.
Your skin has an optimal pH level of 5.5, and if left unbalanced, you might experience breakouts, dry skin, rashes — the list goes on and on! When our skin is oily it becomes more acidic, which is why most cleansers have an alkaline pH to counteract that acidity. But all this does is leave our skin unbalanced after a good wash!
A trusty toner’s pH level will be near or around our optimal 5.5, thus restoring peace and balance to our skin. If you’re new to toners and want to start with something simple, try the Cocokind Rosewater Toner. If your skin is prone to redness and irritation, try the Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner. If you deal with breakouts and acne, The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution will be your best friend!
Step 3: Serum
You might think serums are “too much” in the summer. But keep in mind that our skin is in constant need of TLC! Plus, not all serums have to be heavy and oily. Think of serums as the multivitamins for your skin. They provide a concentrated dose of quality ingredients with very specific benefits.
In the summer, we like to use serums that brighten and restore our skin. When it comes to brightening, vitamin C is the go-to ingredient. Thankfully, there are numerous vitamin C serums out there, but our favorite is the Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum. For restoration and an all around glow, we both incorporate niacinamide serums (like this one from The Ordinary) on a daily basis to protect from damage, lock in moisture, fight off acne and so much more!
Step 4: Moisturizer
Most people stray away from moisturizers during hot summer days, but keeping your skin hydrated is a key step in preventing damage from the sun, heat and air conditioning.
When it comes to summer moisturizers, we tend to lean toward lighter creams, gels and lightweight oils. We recommend looking for products with hyaluronic acid and/or squalane to help you achieve that lightweight, yet effective moisture level. The Sephora All Day Hydrator and The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane deliver all day (or night) hydration without clogging your pores!
Step 5: SPF
Arguably one of the most important steps to your summer skin care routine is sunscreen! (Duh, right?) But did you know there are two different types of sunscreen?
The first type, chemical sunscreen, is arguably the most well-known and widely used. The active ingredients in chemical SPF such as avobenzone, oxybenzone and octocrylene work by sinking into your skin and then absorbing the sun’s rays.
The second type, mineral (or physical) sunscreen, can be identified by two active ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients rest on the surface of your skin and physically block the sun’s rays. Since mineral SPF is not absorbed by the skin and will not seep into the bloodstream, it is widely perceived as being healthier than chemical sunscreen.
That said, there’s a time and a place for both types! If you’re planning on getting sweaty, being highly active or going swimming, a chemical SPF will offer you the most protection. Our favorites are the Coola Sport Sunscreen Spray and the Coola Classic Face Sport SPF. If you’re just going about day-to-day life, we recommend sticking with a mineral SPF. Our must-have mineral SPF products are from Drunk Elephant and Sun Bum. All that said, when it comes to sunscreen the most important tip we have is: Use it and use it often!
Oh, How You’ll Glow
If you didn’t have a summer skin care routine before, you will now! When it comes down to it, your focus should be decongesting your pores, protecting your skin from the sun and using lots of gentle, yet restorative ingredients.
With just a little extra effort, and a little help from your friends (a.k.a. us!), your skin will be glowing through the end of summer!
Claudia Pfau and Samantha Ramos are the besties and skin care gurus behind Uncover the Glow, your go-to place for real reviews on the latest beauty and lifestyle products taking over your feeds. From that trendy serum, to that life-changing mascara, to that workout program all your friends are raving about, they (un)cover it all! They authentically share the good, bad and ugly of product testing, while placing a special emphasis on finding clean alternatives that bring out your inner glow. Visit uncovertheglow.com and follow along on Instagram at @uncovertheglow for more!