This article is in partnership with Ulta Beauty.
Put away your bubble coats and snow boots (amen!) because Spring has sprung and it's time to make the great outdoors your playground. With every new change of season, making some tweaks to your skincare routine is always a good investment. That's especially true if you're dealing with skincare concerns like hyperpigmentation and dryness.
Lucky for us, Dermatologist Caroline Robinson is giving us the real on how to re-up our skincare arsenal in time for the warmer weather. Dr. Robinson is a MD FAAD board-certified dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology, an innovative and inclusive dermatologic practice on Chicago’s near south side. Her practice specializes in alopecia, preventative skincare, and skin of color dermatology.
Whether you're battling hyperpigmentation or texture, these products are worth adding to your cart during your next skincare haul, and key for carrying you into the next few months. Get the 411 on spring skincare below:
xoNecole:Should shoppers be looking to switch up their skincare products as the weather transitions from winter to spring?
Dr. Robinson: Transitioning skin care as the weather transitions is an important step in maintaining a balanced and hydrated skin barrier. The transition from winter to spring can be an important one depending on your climate and I always encourage evaluating your skin care products at that time. Regardless of the season, however, sunscreen is essential. There’s a misconception that this just applies to the summer months but sun protection is very important in the winter, spring and fall months as well. I recommend SPF 30 or higher on a daily basis. Protecting your skin from the sun year-round will protect and improve your skin’s radiance and tone.
If so, what types of products should they be looking for? (ex, should we switch from rich, heavier moisturizers to lighter ones?)
The two main categories to look at when transitioning your skin care with the seasons are cleansers and moisturizers. In general, more nourishing cleansers such as creamy cleansers are helpful in climates with harsh winters. In the spring, as the humidity increases it can be helpful to incorporate a gel cleanser based on your skin type. A gentle gel cleanser can be added for normal skin types and a gentle exfoliating cleanser can be added for more oily skin types. The same concept applies to moisturizer. I typically recommend using a lighter moisturizer than that used in the winter months based on your skin type. Options include light creams, lotions, and gel moisturizers.
Why is SPF so important to include in your skincare routine, and what tips can you give our readers about finding the best one for them?
Wearing sunscreen daily is the single most important thing that you can do to protect your skin and be proactive about skin health. Your sunscreen should be SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum, and water resistant in order to provide adequate protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying 1 shot glass of sunscreen to cover the entire body, approximately 1/2 teaspoon of which will cover the face and neck. I recommend measuring out your application at least one time to make sure that you have an idea of how much you’re actually applying. For those who cook, a 1/2 teaspoon is roughly equivalent to a quarter-sized mound in a cupped hand nor 3 finger lengths of SPF.
There are two categories of sunscreens, mineral (or physical) and chemical, and for the most part they work fairly similar to protect our skin. Mineral sunscreens contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and both reflect and absorb light to protect the skin. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the UV rays and turning them into heat which is carried away and off of the skin. Generally speaking, chemical sunscreens do not leave a white cast, however those with more sensitive skin and who are acne prone can occasionally experience issues with this category of sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens are better suited for sensitive skin types but can tend to leave a white cast making it important to find blend-able options for these skin types. I find that tinted mineral sunscreens that contain iron oxide (which also can provide added visible light protection) tend to blend in better than un-tinted mineral sunscreens on darker skin.
Hyperpigmentation is a major skincare concern for women of color. Which skincare ingredients tend to be most effective for people suffer from hyperpigmentation?
One of the least acknowledged truths about treating hyperpigmentation is that sunscreen is the very first step, the most important step, in improving them. Sunscreen is extremely important in protecting the skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays and also visible light which drives hyperpigmentation in melanin-rich skin more than other skin tones. In these cases, sunscreen is more than just protective. It is essential in the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Sunscreens that contain iron oxide and carry a tint tend to provide better protection against visible light. After consistent sunscreen, I recommend topical tone correctors that contain a blend of antioxidants and proven actives and in office treatments like chemical peels, microneedling, and laser. Some of the most popular ingredients for treating hyperpigmentation are hydroquinone (primarily available in prescription only), antioxidants such as Vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic acid and glycolic acid, or other ingredients such as kojic acid, azelaic acid, arbutin and more. As always, pigment is tricky and stubborn pigment is a reason to see a board-certified dermatologist.
Finally, what are the most essential skincare steps that you feel should be in everyone's routine?
The most essential steps that should be in everyone’s skincare routine are cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting (with sunscreen). Treatment products can be added after the cleansing step depending on your skin concerns and these include serums to address hyperpigmentation, retinol to address acne or proactively address the signs of skin aging, and products specific for the eye, lips, neck, etc. Starting with the basics is always best!
Feeling inspired? Shop Dr. Robinson's favorite products below from Ulta Beauty:
Sunday Riley Good Genes is a multi-treatment serum that deeply exfoliates the skin and instantly plumps the look of fine lines and wrinkles in 3 minutes.
Target hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone with Discoloration Correcting Serum from Good Molecules. Formulated with an advanced form of tranexamic acid to visibly improve the appearance of dark spots, acne scars, melasma, and sun damage.
Peach & Lily Transparen-C Pro Spot Treatment features a uniquely stable 20% Vitamin C derivative to rapidly, gently, and visibly erase the look of dark spots.
Sunday Riley CEO 15% Vitamin C Brightening Serum is powered by 15% Vitamin C. This lightweight serum fights the look of dullness and discolorations at the source, while diminishing the signs of aging.