Exactly How To Transition Your Skin Care Routine From Winter To Spring

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When it comes to maintaining healthy and hydrated skin, winter is no cake walk. So many of us are pumped for spring's warmer temperatures. But surprisingly, this seasonal transition can be just as irritating on your face. Acne, eczema, and rosacea are all conditions that can flare due to temperature changes, increased sunlight, and a number of other factors.

"You're coming out of a season where the skin is quite compromised and the barrier is very fragile, and then spring is quite volatile," says Nichola Weir, holistic esthetician and founder of Pacific Touch NYC. "You’re getting those warmer to hot temperatures, which boosts oil flow, and also sweat, which is a huge irritant."

Seasonal allergies come into play as well. As plant life comes up, allergens and pollen are being released into the air, which can trigger histamine reactions that present in the skin as rashes, irritation, and rosacea, explains holistic esthetician and skin care expert Britta Plug.

"Our bodies reflect nature," says Plug. "So when nature goes to sleep for the winter, our oil production slows down, our hair growth slows down; and when everything comes to life in spring, our skin kind of does the same."

So what's the solution? Making small changes to your skin care routine and even your diet. "In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), we tweak our skin care according to different seasons," says Cecilia Wong, celebrity facialist and founder of Cecilia Wong Skincare. "Spring is about soothing and calming and awakening your skin." Repairing your skin's barrier, which was likely compromised over the winter, is also key for preventing and minimizing seasonal breakouts and irritation, adds Weir.  

Here, our experts share their simple strategies for keeping skin clear, calm, and happy this spring and beyond:

1. Hydrate (but don't suffocate) your skin.

One of the most obvious ways to transition your skin care routine for spring is by lightening up your moisturizer or face oil. You still want to maintain moisture levels, but you don't want to suffocate skin with heavy products like balms since your natural oil production is also increasing. So, using a hydrating facial mist after cleansing (rosewater is great) followed by a lighter moisturizer or a face oil that absorbs really well into the skin (like jojoba oil) is a good move, says Weir. 

Wong agrees and says that she'd opt for a moisturizer during the day for an added layer of protection against pollution and irritants and "whatever is lingering in the air," and an antioxidant-rich face oil at night. But try to avoid anything that's too stimulating. "You want to calm and soothe the skin," she says. "So anything with a stronger acid, like glycolic acid, should be put aside for now, especially if you experience eczema or rosacea flare-ups."

2. Layer on the protective antioxidants.

Soothing botanicals and antioxidants can not only help repair and restore your skin's barrier, but many have photo-protective properties as well. Meaning, they may minimize sun-induced damage to the skin and boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen. "While synthetic vitamin C can make skin more reactive, we actually have the opposite effect with natural forms of vitamin C," says Plug. "It acts as a protectant against UV damage, and if you use it regularly in the form of something like a weekly vitamin-C-rich mask, your skin starts to store it up so you have more protection."

Some ingredients high in vitamin C and a variety of other antioxidants include camu camu, rosehip oil, and acerola berry. In addition to using an antioxidant-rich mask, you can also layer on an antioxidant-rich facial serum or oil. "Anything containing berry ingredients, like black currant seed oil, is going to have a ton of antioxidants," says Wong.

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3. Repair and soothe with a Manuka honey mask.

For skin that's really cranky and irritated come spring, a DIY barrier-restoring mask can do the trick. "I love a Manuka honey mask for any kind of skin irritation, whether it's acne or any type of rash," says Plug. "It's just really calming, helps to restore the skin, and it's super-antibacterial and healing. A probiotic-rich yogurt mask would be great, too, because it helps strengthen the skin's microbiome so it can heal itself."

Simply combine a half-teaspoon of quality Manuka honey with a couple of drops of warm water, spread it over your face, allow it to sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water. For the yogurt mask, a tablespoon of plain yogurt for the same amount of time should do the trick.

4. Choose your sunscreen wisely.

Increased sun exposure is unavoidable come spring, which means incorporating your daily facial sun protection is crucial. However, acne and rosacea—two conditions that tend to flare in spring—often don't respond well to sunscreen. "While sunscreen is definitely necessary, a lot of acne sufferers find themselves breaking out from sunscreen because it tends to be pore clogging," says Weir. "Same goes for rosacea or any sensitive skin prone to redness and irritation."

So choosing the right sunscreen product is key. For acne sufferers, that means opting for something with non-comedogenic oils and non-irritating, preferably hypoallergenic ingredients like Badger Damascus Rose Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 25, which is Weir's personal favorite for acne-prone skin. For those with rosacea, Weir recommends Image Skincare Prevention+ Daily Hydrating Moisturizer SPF 30, a mineral sunscreen specifically formulated for dry, redness-prone, sensitive skin.

5. Invest in a good air purifier.

With spring allergies come plenty of facial irritation. Wong notices a lot of puffiness and red, dry patches on her clients' skin, which is why she recommends an air purifier to rid the home of airborne irritants like pollen-laden dust. "I would highly recommend an air purifier for your bedroom, or any room where you hang out a lot," she says. You can also incorporate more of these houseplants that have been shown to naturally purify indoor air.

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6. Eat more liver-friendly foods.

Caring for your skin from the inside with nourishing foods can make this seasonal transition that much easier, says Wong. "In TCM, the theory is that spring relates to our liver and our gallbladder, which help to detox and cleanse. So it's important to eat more foods that support the liver and target overall cleansing of the body."

In addition to generally focusing on nutrient-rich whole foods, this means incorporating bitter foods into your diet such as bitter greens (think kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, or collard greens), radish, and bitter melon. "In Chinese medicine, everything bitter is considered medicinal and a great detoxifier," says Wong. Cooked bitter foods are even better, she says, as cold and raw foods can increase dampness in the body (during a season that already tends to be very damp), which may promote skin flare-ups of all varieties.

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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