Paying attention to your environment is integral to customizing the right body care routine for you.
Changes in weather and environmental conditions can significantly affect the skin on your body. In general, it tends to get oilier as the temperature and humidity climb, and then drier, duller, and flakier when the weather turns colder.
So just as you trade out your sweaters and parkas for tees and dresses when the weather warms up, you want to do the same for your body care routine, changing out thicker and heavier washes, creams, and balms for lighter options, like gels, foams, mists, and lotions. These swaps help deliver the right moisturization level for your skin and tend to feel more comfortable, encouraging you to use them. (Nobody really wants to coat themselves in a thick cream when it’s humid and sticky outside.)
It seems simple enough, but there are a few important things to keep in mind per Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City.
1. Lightweight does not necessarily equal less hydrating.
You can find a mist, gel, wash, or lotion with a great combination of top-notch hydration, including humectants (which sit on the skin and draw water into it) and moisturizers like emollients (which soften and act as barriers on the skin, preventing water loss). Popular humectants include glycerin and hyaluronic acid; emollients include ceramides and shea butter.
2. It pays to stay on top of cleansing and moisturizing.
Keeping skin clean and hydrated is much easier than treating it and re-hydrating it. A good rule of thumb is to moisturize after every hand washing and every shower. First, cleanse, and then, when the skin is still slightly damp, apply a body lotion or body cream, which helps trap moisture in the skin.
3. Dry, irritated skin can happen year-round.
We might not think of dehydrated, scaly skin as a summertime problem, but “all the salt water and sun exposure can lead to breaks in the skin barrier, irritation, and sunburns—which causes dry and irritated skin,” Dr. Kanchanapoomi Levin says. “I recommend looking for a lightweight body lotion that has ingredients that not only hydrate the skin but also keratolytic, such as urea or glycolic acid, to break-up dead skin cells.” An exfoliating wash or lotion can also help remove built-up sweat and sunscreen on the chest, back, and bums. Then, of course, apply and reapply sunscreen to all light-exposed body parts to keep yourself protected head-to-toe every day.