During the summer months, we like to take a more pared-down approach to many aspects of our lives—and our skincare routines are no exception. But just because we’re aiming for effortless doesn’t mean we’re skipping important steps. To help us address our warm-weather skincare needs with ease while also making sure we’re adequately protected, we spoke with Dr. Mona S. Foad of MONA Dermatology in Cincinnati, Ohio. Here, she shares sunscreen recommendations, tips for modifying your cleansing routine, and advice to avoid mask-related breakouts.

Choose your sun protection carefully. When selecting a sunscreen, Foad advises looking for a product that covers you against both UVA and UVB rays, and recommends using a mineral based sunscreen that utilizes natural minerals, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. To avoid that cakey white look you may find in many of the over the counter drug store varieties, she recommends looking for more cosmetically elegant brands such as Colorescience, SkinMedica, and Elta MD sunscreens. These are among her favorites, because they protect against both UVB and UVA rays, have a high percentage of zinc oxide for better protection without looking white and pasty, and are well tolerated by most skin types without causing allergic reactions.

Use the correct amount of sunscreen. Think you know how to apply SPF? You might be in need of a refresher. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most adults need about one ounce of sunscreen, or enough to fill a shot glass, to fully cover your body. Foad shares a few other pointers:

  • Timing matters. Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors
  • Don’t forget to cover commonly overlooked areas: the tops of your feet, neck, ears, and top of your head
  • Skin cancer can form on the lips. To protect them, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Reapply your SPF every two to three hours out of the water, and every 80 minutes if you are in the water. When you’re spending the day in the sun, where time can sometimes slip away, set a timer to stay on top of application

Change up your cleanser seasonally. In the winter, your skin may be drier, which means you may need to turn to a creamier, less drying cleanser. In the summer, when dryness is less of an issue, you may find that a more foaming face wash and an exfoliating cleanser containing alpha hydroxy acid might be a better fit, according to Foad.

Adjust your toner. Like cleansers, due to the climate, you may be able to use a stronger toner in the summer than in the winter. “The right toner would depend on what type of skin you have and what you are treating,” Foad says. If you are acne-prone, you may want to opt for one with salicylic or glycolic acid. If your skin tends to be dry, you may gravitate towards more soothing and gentle toners like ones with rose water or chamomile. Foad likes Micellar water toners because they are gentler and are fragrance-free. She recommends La Roche Posey and Avene products, and for normal to dry skin suggests SkinMedica’s Rejuvenative toner.

Maintain moisturization. Between the humidity and amount of sunscreen you’re applying, you may feel like you don’t need moisturizer during the summer months. But rather than skipping moisturizer altogether, Foad recommends switching to a lighter one—like a lotion versus a cream, or try a combination sunscreen moisturizer—to keep your skin in top form.

Care for your skin post-swim. Whether you’re taking a dip in the pool or ocean, it’s a good idea to give your skin a little extra attention afterwards. Chlorine can wreak havoc on your skin, causing dryness, irritation, and rashes (and even burns if the levels are too strong).  Additionally, saltwater can dry out your skin and hair. To combat any ill effects from a refreshing dip, Foad recommends showering as soon as you get out of the pool, hot tub, or ocean, being sure to condition your hair and to thoroughly moisturize your skin.

Take measures against mask-related skin stress. While it’s an important part of our current daily routine, wearing a mask can cause skin irritation, especially across the nose, behind your ears, and under your chin. Foad recommends taking the following measures to ensure your skin stays clear during the pandemic:

  • Wash your skin with a gentle cleanser and apply a moisturizer to improve your skin barrier function.
  • For areas of irritation, consider applying Zinc oxide (like Desitin) or Aquaphor to help them heal faster
  • If you’re breaking out with acne due to the stress and/or mask-wearing, make sure to wash your face twice a day, apply a light moisturizer to your skin, avoid occlusive makeup or foundation, and consider adding in prescription topical medications if needed
  • Increased heat around the mouth and nose area can cause a flare in rosacea, which is aggravated by anything that increases flushing. To combat this, practice good hygiene and follow the steps for acne outlined above. For more significant redness, consider prescription medication and possibly IPL or facial treatments
  • Don’t forget to change your masks when necessary, and make sure to wash your cotton masks every day

Photograph courtesy of iStock. TSG Tip 375 from Dr. Mona S. Foad of MONA Dermatology in Cincinnati, Ohio. MONA Dermatology is featured in The Scout Guide Cincinnati.