7 Summer Skin Care Trends That Are About To Be Everywhere

Make room in your beauty cabinet.

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Dermatologists reveal the summer skin care trends you're about to see everywhere.
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Taking care of your skin is important year-round, but it’s especially the case during the summer. Your face is at the mercy of so many external factors: UV rays, sweat, bugs, and humidity (to name a few), all of which can lead to issues like dullness, dark spots, oily skin, and breakouts. The good news? Summer’s skin care trends are here to address them.

According to two dermatological experts, Dr. Dendy Engelman, M.D., FACMS, FAAD, from Shafer Clinic, and Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist, the two main themes coursing through the season’s buzziest skin care trends are hyper-efficient formulas and helping your complexion get ready for a mask-less world.

Another movement to watch on the beauty shelves? Skin care is continuing to evolve past treating only your face, as many brands, products, and formulas are considering every inch of your epidermis — from the neck down to your toes. And there are also updates in the industry that help you to better abide by the eternal cardinal rule of the summer: Wear sunscreen at all times.

Read on for the seven summer 2021 skin care trends experts are buzzing about.

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Tinted Sunscreen Galore

You already know you should be slathering on SPF every single day, multiple times a day — especially during the summer months since the sun is stronger on your skin. Rather than laying it on thick with goopy SPF creams and then applying makeup over that, Engelman sees a rise in tinted sunscreens.

“Summer is all about showcasing your skin’s natural beauty, and taking a less-is-more approach,” she tells Bustle. These products do just that: Tinted SPF gives your complexion subtle, even coverage while also preventing sun damage. Engelman recommends looking for lightweight formulas that are amped up with additional benefits like pollution protection from antioxidants and polymers (which keep the product from melting off your skin).

One A+ choice? AbsoluteJoi’s new tinted SPF, which is rich in vitamin C and moisturizing ingredients, and comes in shades that work on darker skin tones. And, just like with regular sunscreen, remember to reapply at least every two hours, she says.


Gentler Exfoliants

People have been donning face masks for about a year and a half now. But, as everyone begins to shed their protective cocoons and reenter society, Zeichner says there’s a big demand for treating the damage this pandemic has done to the skin. Besides the widely-discussed maskne, he tells Bustle the other frequent complaints include dull complexions, clogged pores, and breakouts.

Enter: an influx of exfoliating and peeling treatments. Instinctively, you might want to stay away from such products since they can often increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. However, Zeichner and Engelman say you can (and should) continue to do facial peels throughout the season. “Peels can renew your skin overnight without risking the sun sensitivity usually associated with chemical exfoliants,” Engelman says, pointing to lactic acids and other alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids.

To be easier on your complexion, look for formulas that also contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and glycerin. Naked Flamingo’s exfoliating solution combines lactic acid with the trio of moisturizing staples along with niacinamide for more skin-soothing prowess.


Supercharged Serums

This season, expect to maximize every product within your skin care routine with multipurpose formulas. Zeichner says he expects an uptick in multi-use moisturizing serums in particular because they can hydrate your skin without weighing it down and creating a sticky texture (which no one wants in the humid months). Look for a formula that includes ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe.

Engelman also predicts these double-duty serums to be loaded with antioxidants — especially since the combination of antioxidants and SPF is a game-changer. “Antioxidants help neutralize free radical damage by pairing with them before they can cause signs of premature aging and skin damage,” she tells Bustle. When you layer a super-boosted antioxidant serum under sunscreen, “the antioxidants not only provide additional skin protection, but they also act as a barrier that prevents sunscreen from clogging pores and causing acne breakouts,” says Engelman. Try the recently launched Inn Beauty Project Green Machine — a moisturizing product that’s basically a nourishing smoothie for your skin.


Plumped Lips

Another result of masks coming off? Lips are coming out. For Engleman, this means a shift in beauty priorities: “I’m seeing a focus move away from the eyes and towards the lips,” she tells Bustle, noting there’s been an increase in patients asking for temporary lip injections or fillers to carry them through the summer.

Even if you’re not on the injection train, there is a burgeoning category of lip treatments — not glosses or color cosmetics — aimed at rejuvenating, hydrating, and plumping your pout. Think lip masks galore, like KNC Beauty’s sheet-style version, or whipped pots of balms (like Ilia’s Lip Wrap Treatment Mask) that moisturize, plump, and lightly exfoliate all at once.


Body Treatments

While body care has slowly but steadily been rising, summer is the season of showing off glistening limbs and supple skin — which is why Engelman says body treatments are a huge deal right now. This year, she has seen people turning to in-office treatments like Emsculpt NEO and Qwo injections — the former a 30-minute radiofrequency procedure that eliminates fat cells and builds muscle, and the latter a new injectable that treats cellulite.

There are also less intensive options, like the growing number of topical options on the shelves. These include creams that combat strawberry legs (à la Soft Service’s Smoothing Solution), serums that fight body acne (like Kosas’ new exfoliant-packed Good Body Skin Wash), and lotions that tighten and firm the skin on your limbs (Clarins’ Extra-Firming Body Cream).


Hydrating Foam Cleansers

Hydrating cleansers have their time and place (fall through winter), but for summer expect a burgeoning plethora of foaming face washes... that don’t strip your skin of moisture, says Zeichner. “As temperatures and humidity rise, the face often feels more oily than it does during cooler months,” he says. “Lathering, foaming cleansers [are] better [for] removing oil from the skin and [to] help minimize a shiny appearance.” Look to face washes that balance the cleansing component with hydrating superstars like hyaluronic acid and glycerin — or kiwi seed oil, the moisturizer within Kylie Skin’s Foaming Face Wash.


Retinol Alternatives

Retinol has a laundry list of benefits, but it also has a laundry list of potential side effects, one of which is increased sun sensitivity. Since that’s the last thing your complexion needs in the summer months, Zeichner says people are turning to retinol alternatives right now — a category that’s only gotten bigger since the word “bakuchiol” became a household name (among beauty enthusiasts, at least).

Zeichner tells Bustle bakuchiol is still on the rise as an ingredient considered to be “nature’s retinol,” he says. While it isn’t an exact dupe for retinol, “it does have a collagen-stimulating benefit to strengthen the skin and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Zeichner. Try something like PSA Skin’s Midnight Courage Oil for the job. You can also get similar results by regularly using ceramides, epidermal growth factor, peptides, and — of course — sunscreen.

Studies referenced:

Darr, D. (1996). Effectiveness Of Antioxidants (Vitamin C And E) With And Without Sunscreens As Topical Photoprotectants. Acta Dermato-Venereologica.

McDaniel, D. (2019). Evaluation of the Antioxidant Capacity and Protective Effects of a Comprehensive Topical Antioxidant Containing Water-soluble, Enzymatic, and Lipid-soluble Antioxidants. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.


Dr. Dendy Engelman, M.D., FACMS, FAAD, from Shafer Clinic

Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., New York City-based dermatologist

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