The skin care ingredients you should be using in summer

And the ones to steer clear of

Beauty Crew Beauty Editor / October 23 2023

We’re all well aware that sun and heat exposure during summer can lead to skin damage. But did you know that there are certain skin care ingredients that can increase our skin sensitivity and subsequently, increase the risk of damage too? 

That’s why it’s so important to curate a skin care regimen in summer that complements the elemental changes going on around us in the warmer months. 

BEAUTYcrew spoke to Dermal Clinician and founder of Viviology, James Vivian, about the skin care ingredients we should be prioritising this summer, and the ingredients that are better put to use during winter

Ahead, your guide to skin care ingredients you should (and shouldn’t) be using this summer.

The top 5 skin care ingredients to use in summer

1/ SPF

“We expose more of our body to longer doses of harsher UV radiation in summer which can create a higher probability for skin cancers and premature ageing, such as pigmentation, wrinkles and sagging skin,” says Vivian. “Applying and reapplying SPF to our skin will help reduce these symptoms.”

2/ Hyaluronic Acid

In case you didn’t know: “The sun zaps our natural supply of hyaluronic acid, which helps give our skin bounce and hydration.” The best way to fix this is to liberally apply your favourite hyaluronic acid skin care products during the warmer months to topically boost HA levels in the skin.

3/ Polyhydroxy Acid

PHAs are chemical exfoliants that are a bit more gentle than AHAs and BHAs. “This acid gently exfoliates the skin to reduce post-exfoliation photosensitivity which needs to be a consideration in summer,” advises Vivian. “Plus, these acids also help to retain moisture in the skin.”

4/ Vitamin B 

A vitamin B serum is a great summertime alternative to rich moisturisers, says Vivian. “[They] brighten, balance oil, minimise redness, and provide lightweight antioxidant protection and hydration.”

5/ Hat, sunglasses, clothing and shade 

While Vivian admits that they’re “not an ingredient per se”, they are still extremely important when it comes to taking care of your skin in summer, because they can help to prevent sun damage and premature ageing. “SPF is fab, but please consider it as part of a sun protection summer plan,” says the skin specialist. 

How to adapt your skin care routine for summer

“I am a big fan of cocktailing products and ingredients together to allow them to be massaged into the skin and to speed up skin care routines so you have more time outside than in the bathroom,” says Vivian.

“I think vitamin C and vitamin B pair so beautifully together to enhance brightness and antioxidant protection, as do vitamin B and hyaluronic acid to boost hydration and soothe skin post sun exposure,” he continues. “Vitamin A and AHAs also go very well together, as they enhance each other's benefits, but beware of any signs of sensitivity, dryness and irritation as whether it’s summer or winter, this inflammation will be having negative effects on your skin if not addressed.”

The skin care ingredients you shouldn’t use in summer

“Everyone’s skin responds differently to changes in weather and whilst someone might need a richer moisturiser or deeper cleanser, that won’t be true for all,” says Vivian pragmatically. “People are safe to use their skin care as long as they are not damaging their barrier, inflaming their skin or experiencing photosensitive skin.”

“While I am a fan of changing up skin care as the weather gets warmer or cooler, I think it’s important to wait for your skin to ’speak up’ and say it needs a change, such as a foaming cleanser or a lighter moisturiser in summer to help balance an increase in natural oil production and the removal of SPF and sweat,” he continues. “Ensuring our skin is adequately protected from the sun is crucial during summer but SPF should be considered as the final step in a skin care routine 365 days per year.”

After a sunscreen to add to your routine this summer? These are the best sunscreens to wear under makeup.

Image credit: Getty

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).