What You Should Be Doing To Get Your Skin Ready For Spring

That old expression "spring is the air" has become a lasting idiom with good reason. After a long, cold winter, spring is the season of rebirth and many of us feel excited when the daylight gets longer and the temperatures warm up.

The American Psychiatric Association reports that about five percent of adults suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression marked by mood changes and feelings of sadness caused by the decrease in sunlight brought on by the late fall and winter. The good news is there is typically an improvement once spring begins.

It's not surprising since the sunshine and welcoming weather often invigorate us to spruce things up, do spring cleaning, and get ready for the upcoming season. After a long winter, our homes need a deep clean, and so does our skin. Our skin endures a lot during winter and there are certain things you should be doing to get it in tip-top shape for spring.

Exfoliate to remove dead skin cells

The first thing to do when restoring anything is to strip it down to its original state, and the skin is no different. Skin cells, especially when they've become dried out, can build up on the surface. Between the indoor heat and the frigid outside air, skin tends to become flaky and withered in the winter. One of the best ways to fight dry skin, that is also a great springtime tip, is to exfoliate.

Though winter is gone, your skin will continue to shed. Consequently, a good exfoliating regimen sets you on the right path to keep the cells consistently refreshed. It also helps prevent pores from becoming clogged which can turn into breakouts.

Aesthetician Sonya Dakar tells The Cut that people should ideally exfoliate at least once or twice a week. You can use an exfoliation scrub that contains small particles that work to loosen skin cells or make homemade scrub using ingredients such as sugar, coffee grounds, ground almonds, or baking soda. Simply rub the mixture on your face in small circular motions to exfoliate. Then, rinse and apply a moisturizer.

Swap your winter moisturizer for a lighter version

If you've been tending to your skin during winter with heavy serums and nourishing moisturizers to protect delicate skin from harsh elements, as everyone should, now is the time to make a switch. While you should always moisturize your skin to keep it supple and glowing, you now need to ease up on using heavy formulas in the spring.

Thick oils and creams can clog pores and cause breakouts. They can also be incredibly uncomfortable when the temps warm up and make you feel sweaty and look greasy. "Swapping your moisturizer for something a little lighter is key," New York City dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler tells Vogue. "Our skin tends to hold more water in the spring and summer, so you won't need as much protection."

Moisturizers that are largely water-based work well for the warmer spring months. Hyaluronic acid-based moisturizers are also a good option since they not only make skin plumper but also boost elasticity. 

Use retinoids again

For those who are concerned about fine lines and want to follow an anti-aging routine, retinoids are a popular go-to treatment. They work to boost collagen production which helps keep skin plump and firm, which helps reduce the appearance of fine lines. 

However, retinoids can be harsh on the face. This is especially true for anyone with sensitive skin and when the weather can have an impact. In the winter when the air is dry and cold, retinoids can dry out your skin too much. Then instead of getting the smooth skin you want, you end up with a dry and flaky face.

Yet, once spring has sprung and temperatures become milder, the reasons for adding a retinoid into your regimen are greater. Dermatologist Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, explains, "Warmer weather months allow skin to tolerate more frequent application, and the more you can use a retinoid, the more benefits — to skin cell turnover, collagen stimulation, reduced pore size — you'll get" (via Everyday Health).

Make sunscreen a daily habit, if you haven't already

You don't have to wait until summer to wear sunscreen. In fact, you shouldn't. Anytime you are in the sun, you should protect your skin with sunscreen, even in the winter. The strong rays from the sun still affect your skin even when it's freezing out. However, many people take a break from sunscreen and only return to it during the hot summer months.

That's a mistake because the sun is responsible for photoaging, which is when your skin looks older than it should for your age, due to the wrinkles, discoloration, and rough texture resulting from the sun (via Women's Health).

Even more concerning is the fact that sunscreen protects against skin cancer, so going without it opens your skin up to harm. Ironically, with the hole in the ozone layer becoming its largest in the winter, the rays are more dangerous. You want to be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50 every day.

Clean makeup brushes

Once your skin regimen is set, it's time to spring clean your make-up stash. Make-up has a shorter shelf life than most people think. Ideally, you want to replace lipstick, pencil eyeliners, and blush after a year, while foundation and eye shadow can last for two years.

It's important to be extra diligent about anything that comes in direct contact with your eyes. Mascara and liquid eyeliner are two products to be careful with since they can easily cause eye infections. Experts say to toss them after three months.

It is also equally important to clean the makeup tools that touch your face, especially your eye area. That can also lead to bacteria and infection. Use a gentle cleaner to wash your brushes and then air dry them. This will remove any residual build-up and existing bacteria. Then once cleaned, they will be ready-to-use for all your springtime events.