How would you suggest to change anti-aging skin care going into summer? I moderately use glycolic and tretinoin/sometimes retinol during non-summer months. With skin type 1/2, living in sunny climate and suspecting that I may have carelessly (not wearing sunscreen) compromised my skin in the past, I want to be extra careful. Should I go with just mild glycolic (and of course sun screen)? Will I lose benefits I gained from tretinoin use? Marvelous site you have with very nice education!
This is a very timely question as we move into summer. Yes, switching anti-aging skin care seasonally is important for maximizing results while minimizing problems. Fall, winter and spring are naturally the times of year when we can do most of the major heavy lifting for anti-aging results because we are not out in the sun as much. During that time of year, we use products, anti-aging skin peels, light treatments and laser procedures to reverse the signs of aging as these all require sun avoidance.
In the summer, unless a person is really able to keep the sun off their skin, I recommend bumping up the antioxidant skin care products and sunscreen, and dropping down on the sun sensitizing anti-aging products and procedures.
Below is what I consider to be the best daily summer anti-aging skin care regimen for skin that is exactly what you describe (fair skin, sunny climate and less than 100% sun protection).
Dermatologist Recommended Anti-aging Summer Skin Care Routine for Sun-exposed Skin:
In the morning:
1. Wash with the Clarisonic Brush and a cleanser that fits your skin type.
3. Next apply Professional Cell Repair Serum.
4. Finally apply a mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreen. You need one that you love so much that you WANT to use it every day. (This is why I have so many sunscreen options; there really is a product for every skin type that you CAN love!)
5. If you wear makeup, dust your skin with mineral makeup for its light-scattering benefits.
At night I recommend applying the Replenix CF or Power of Three Cream again and the Professional Cell Repair Serum, but switching from tretinoin or glycolic acid to a deeply hydrating moisturizer such as Daily Moisturizing Face Cream Oily to Normal Skin or Daily Moisturizing Face Cream Dry to Normal Skin.
Only if it’s possible to do a good job sun protecting your facial skin is it okay to continue using glycolic acid or tretinoin; both glycolic acid and tretinoin make skin more prone to sun damage including the lower strength glycolic acid products with higher pH unfortunately.
The key is sun protection. With skin, you can always tell how well sun protection is working because, if sun damage is happening, there will be tanning. If there is any tanning of your skin then both glycolic acid and tretinoin need to be stopped for the summer. It’s just not worth the risk. Yes, some results will be lost. I personally have learned that when I go on a snorkeling vacation I can’t entirely keep the sun off my skin, even with reapplication of sunscreen and other precautions, so I stop my tretinoin and glycolic acid skin care about a month before, and my skin looks like it!
If, on the other hand, activities are not causing your skin to tan, then it may well be okay to continue glycolic acid and/or tretinoin in the summer. (Check with your dermatologist.) I do and I’m able to be outside all day and keep my skin tan free by reapplying sunscreen or wearing sunscreen layered with mineral makeup on top, wearing a hat and trying to stay in the shade as the sun moves during the day. It’s not the most spontaneous, I’ll admit, but to me it’s personally worth it!
Stopping the glycolic acid and/or tretinoin skin care, plus getting sun exposure means that inevitably your dead skin cells will build up on your skin’s surface as will uneven pigmentation. Your skin won’t look nearly as good as it does when you’re using tretinoin and glycolic acid. Having regular facials aimed at deep pore cleansing and anti-aging can help with a nice “buff and polish” though. Then, when fall rolls around, it’s possible to just work really hard to whip your skin back into shape again. A great way to do that is by using the Obagi Nu Derm System for 4 months. In my practice, Obagi Nu Derm is almost as seasonal as the fall equinox.
It’s also possible to quickly regain results in the fall by starting some of the really effective anti-aging procedures that counter the damage of summer’s sun on your skin. This means starting a series of procedures like IPL (we call this BBL in my office), facial peels, microdermabrasion, ablative Micro Laser Peels or Profractional Laser treatments.
So, it’s a good news/bad news answer. Yes, we lose some of our anti-aging skin care results when we stop our anti-aging skin care routine. But, we have so many highly effective options that we can rapidly regain our results when we start up our products and add some of the great procedure options too.
Cynthia Bailey MD, Dermatologist
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