The Shocking Reason You Really Should Change Your Skin Care Routine Based On The Season
I'm a strong advocate for seasonal skin care change. Your skin, being your most exposed organ, comes into contact with the environment around you. Of course you'll see changes in your skin's behavior because of this! So in the winter, I personally will opt for heavier creams and oils, while in the summer a lightweight hyaluronic acid serum and lotion become my saving grace.
But the changes in our skin go far beyond environmental exposure and sensorial preferences. Recently I was talking to skin care expert and naturopathic doctor Trevor Cates, N.D., on my podcast Clean Beauty School, and she shared that our hormones actually change throughout the year—which could result in changes in the skin too.
Hormones change seasonally & how that affects your skin.
According to research, the seasons influence your hormone balance. "It's really fascinating to look at the research of what we know about hormones and how they change throughout the year. They actually do shift with the seasons because your body is trying to adjust to the changes in sun, temperature, food, and habits," she says. When you think about it, it should actually come as no surprise (although I was quite surprised) given how much hormones can be affected by simple day-to-day things.
One study she references was about the shift from winter to spring: The "winter-spring" peak, as they call it, is a time when humans and most other animals experience a surge in hormone activity, which results in "a physiological peak in basic human functions." For example, during this time individuals often see a surge of estrogen. Estrogen is a sex hormone known for many things, including several skin benefits including increased collagen production, hydration, and elasticity.
She also references the effects of seasonal changes on the circadian rhythm. Seasonal changes in sun exposure can affect how we sleep, which influence what hormones are released in sleep. Why does this matter for your complexion? Skin can enter repair mode when you're resting, largely thanks to melatonin.
What should be done about this? Well, seasonal changes are part of life, of course. But being aware of the effects they may be having on your body and skin can help you make better choices. For example, if your skin is looking a little sallow in the winter, when you are experiencing more cortisol and less estrogen, you may invest in collagen-supporting topicals like vitamin C serums. And during the spring and summer months, when your skin is feeling its best, you can forgo heavier products and let your natural complexion shine.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.