I live in Florida, where it’s basically summer for half the year. When the temperature and humidity skyrocket, we have to adjust our beauty plans accordingly. Right now, I’m loving a summer morning skin care routine that delivers lightweight hydration + antioxidant and SPF protection + a glow that looks healthy and radiant. (Not sweaty and greasy.) Keep reading for the full rundown on my current pared-down routine that covers all those bases in 4 easy steps.
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Step 1: Clarifying Cleanser
I start my summer morning skin care routine with the iS Clinical Cleansing Complex. It’s a powerful-but-gentle gel cleanser that mildly resurfaces with salicylic and glycolic acids. Karima McKimmie recommended it as one of her favorites, and I really enjoy using it! I feel like it’s a great first step to keep my skin balanced, toned, and more even in texture. And it’s gentle enough to use every day.
It’s spendy for a cleanser, but a little goes a long way. I use a dime-sized amount on dry skin, then add a little water to lather, massage, and rinse. I ordered this one from Violet Grey a few months ago, and still have about a third of the bottle left.
For a drugstore alternative, the Pixi Clarity Cleanser also contains a mix of resurfacing acids. If you try it, start out with just a couple days a week, alternating with a gentle daily cleanser, to see how your skin adjusts to the chemical exfoliation.
Step 2: An Antioxidant-Rich Day Serum
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Serum was my #1 daytime serum pick for YEARS. I couldn’t tell you the total number of bottles I purchased; I went through at least two a year. Then they changed the formula, and I couldn’t adjust to the texture. I can’t remember my exact gripe because it’s been a while, but I think it’s to do with the dry-down (or lack thereof). I seem to recall some issues with stickiness and layering it under other products and makeup. With that said, I still think it’s an effective formula and a great option for a day serum if you have a minimal skin care system.
When I fell out of love with the C-Firma, I skipped an antioxidant/Vitamin-C serum for several months. But after a while, I realized that I missed it in my routine. I noticed some new freckles and sunspots (even with daily SPF) and my skin didn’t feel as radiant as it did when I consistently used a serum with L-absorbic and Ferulic acids. Plus, a good antioxidant serum helps supercharge your sunscreen for a powerful daytime cocktail; it’s a good way to maximize your protection from UV exposure, environmental pollution, and skin-damaging free radicals.
So I got back on the train.
I’m currently working through a bottle of iS Clinical Super Serum Advanced. I like it! It absorbs nicely into my skin, and plays well with other products. I use about 5 drops from the pipette to cover my face, and 4-5 more drops for my neck. You won’t see results from your antioxidant serum overnight; like retinol, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. But with continuous use, I do notice improvement in texture, tone, and brightness.
Other good options: My girlfriends love and swear by the SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. It’s a big investment, but it’s considered an industry gold standard in Vitamin-C serums. Their patent recently expired, leading to the introduction of some competitive dupes in the market with much lower price tags. I hear good things about Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster Vitamin C Treatment ($49). For a good budget-friendly beginner option, try the Sephora Collection Super Glow Serum ($20).
Step 3: A Good Glow-Getter
I usually love everything The Anna Edit recommends, and the Glossier Futuredew oil serum hybrid is no exception. With a caveat: I apply it very sparingly. Like a couple drops, max. The first time I used it, I rubbed a full pump into my face and neck. All my makeup slid off by lunch, and I broke out in little bumps by the end of the day. (And my skin is accustomed to oil-based products!)
Now, I put a few teeny drops on my fingertips, rub my hands together to warm it up, and gently press it onto my face. I focus it on the areas where I want extra hydration and glow, and avoid putting too much in my oil-prone t-zone.
Glossier Futuredew really is glass skin in a bottle. It makes your face look like you just stepped out of a spa treatment: hydrated, dewy, bouncy and radiant. Futuredew is beautiful under makeup, or on its own (topped with SPF and strategic concealer) on days when you just can’t be bothered. It’s $24 for a 1-ounce bottle, but I use such a small amount, my cost-per-use is low.
Step 4: A Multitasking SPF Skin Tint
The grand finale of my summer morning skin care routine is an all-in-one favorite that’s one of my top beauty finds of 2020: the Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40. It’s a skincare/makeup/sunscreen hybrid that replaced my previous multitasking pick, It Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation. (The latter is still an excellent pick if you prefer medium-to-full coverage and a satin finish. See: my 5-Product Makeup Routine.) It’s the last step of my summer morning skin care and the first step in my makeup routine, killing two birds with one convenient and lovely stone.
Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint is hydrating enough that I can skip a moisturizer in the summertime, and it has a super glowy finish that makes your face look like a dewy dumpling all day long. If you have oily skin, or prefer a matte/satin finish, this is not for you. But if you love a skincare focused, no-makeup-makeup, fresh-from-a-facial aesthetic, I think you will love this.
Because I rely on this serum tint for sun protection, I’m generous with the application. I apply it like I would a sunscreen — about a quarter-sized dollop — all over my face and neck, and since the tint is sheer, it never looks overdone. It has a slight white cast upon application, but it warms up on your skin into a perfect match. (I’m in the shade ‘Formosa’.) It comes in an inclusive shade range, so you should be able to find a good match.
I do have to powder my t-zone as a last step in my makeup routine to help the skin tint stay put through the day. I like Glossier Wowder or MAC Mineralize Skinfinish for the job. They both lock things in place with a natural finish that never looks powdery, chalky, or too matte.