SKIN deep

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 March, 2011, 12:00am

A living, breathing organ exposed to the elements, skin often needs special care as seasons change. Now that summer is on the way, it's time to perfect a tailored daily regimen.

Skin is far more delicate than many of us probably realise. Susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity, and being exposed to pollution, air conditioning and ultraviolet rays, skin needs help so that it can defend itself against damage.

'Skincare is like fashion. We wear different clothes for different seasons. Our skin also responds to weather changes, so we need to adjust our routines to accommodate skin's needs,' says La Mer's education manager Judy Au.

And, although Hong Kong's temperature changes are not extreme, Joyce Beauty's general manager, Harriet Lee, stresses that minor weather changes can make a big difference.

'Strong sun rays, higher humidity, heat outdoors and drying air conditioning indoors are challenging to summer skin,' Lee says.

So, as a cool winter turns to a high-humidity summer, assessing what's still required - alongside choosing the right ingredients to deal with the summertime scourge of grease and blocked pores - is paramount to avoid breakouts or sensitivity.

'We recommend a complete routine in both winter and summertime, and picking a different product or a product with another texture, according to your individual needs with the change of season,' says Clarins technical commercial manager Angele Yu.

To make it simple, Yu's recommended summer routine includes cleansing, eye make-up removal, toning, eye treatment, day or night treatment, exfoliation (up to twice a week) and a weekly mask.

'Exfoliation should be done up to three times a week for oily or combination skin and up to twice a week on dry or mature skin. It is important to choose an exfoliation product that is effective yet very gentle on the skin,' Au says.

Lee agrees that deeper cleansing through exfoliation ensures pores remain clear, but go easy with it to avoid irritation.

'Avoid strong peeling, intensive [at home] dermabrasion or any abrasive beauty treatments in summer,' Lee says.

'Skin after these treatments will be more vulnerable to sun damage. We can go for natural exfoliating products.'

Lee recommends By Terry Grain de Rose Resurfacing Micro-Scrub Mask. 'The rosebud extract exfoliates well and boosts radiance.'

There is also the important factor of how to hydrate without getting a greasy shine. Many make the mistake of thinking that grease on the top layer in the humidity means we don't need to moisturise at all.

Experts agree, however, that skin needs hydration just as much, but with a few targeted ingredients to avoid adding more oil.

Bo Bo Chiu, education manager at Estee Lauder, advises to switch to lighter moisturisers.

'During winter, we focus on choosing [heavy] moisturising skincare products. But to remove excessive sebum, we need light-textured products,' Chiu says.

For oily skin, she says, the ingredient glucosamine in Estee Lauder's Idealist collection is recommended.

'The ingredient works to weaken skin's bonds, helping to naturally shed dead surface skin cells,' she says.

'Choose products that deeply hydrate while maintaining a lightweight feel. Gel-like textures or moisturisers that help balance oil and water are an ideal choice,' Au says.

Chiu agrees. 'We should choose products with a higher portion of water-based ingredients in summer compared to the winter.'

Top-quality rosewater is also a handy beauty item for hydration, Lee says.

'Keep a small bottle with you and spray on to the face whenever needed. It's the easiest way to keep hydrated and to combat drying air conditioning and heat.'

Geraldine Howard, founder of Aromatherapy Associates, says that, alternatively, use a hydrating serum under a moisturiser, such as her company's Instant Skin Firming Serum or Rose Radiance Skin serum.

'And if you tend to break out in spots, use a regulating serum, such as Mattifying Skin serum,' she says.

Perhaps the most important focus in summer is on products with a higher sun protection factor, which should be used every day without fail.

To save time, choose a moisturiser with a high factor of more than 15, and don't forget about specific sun-care products for different areas of the face.

'People are engaged in more outdoor activities in summer, with exposure to harmful rays that may lead to wrinkles and premature ageing,' Lee says.

'Therefore, sun protection is compulsory for everyone. Choose products that protect from UVA and UVB [ultraviolet radiation]. And too often we neglect lips in sun protection. We now have more and more lipcare products to address the need.'

However, with every additional ingredient or new texture, there are some other things - besides heavy hydrators - to avoid.

Anyone who has tackled sensitivity alongside an oily layer knows summer skin needs a breather sometimes.

'Retinols and high concentrations of AHA and BHA [alpha and beta hydroxyl acids] should be avoided in summer as they tend to induce sun sensitivity, which leads to pigmentation problems,' Lee says.

Cle de Peau alternatively sees a new season as an opportunity to start afresh. Training manager Kyoko Deguchi says that because spring and summer are times for renewal, the first step is maintaining a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and indulging in the process of skin detoxification and purifying.

'In order to awake pure, beautiful skin, it's good to use Cle de Peau's new Synactif products to detox, purify and reset your skin,' Deguchi says.

'This drains impurities stored during winter and prepares it for the tough summer.'

With the right ingredients for heat and humidity, potential summer skin problems may never surface.

Expert advice

Confused about what products to use? The experts share a few summertime recommendations:

Cle de Peau - Synactif Balancing Lotion has a new function to stabilise skin, ideal for when the seasons change.

La Mer - Oil-Absorbing Lotion and SPF 30 PA++ Sun Protection Fluid.

Clarins - Gentle Brightening Exfoliator for all skin types and Gentle Renewing Brightening Peel for people who prefer gel-lotion-type peeling, or who have fragile skin and want gentle skincare.

Harriet Lee from Joyce Beauty - Dr Hauschka's Rhythmic Night Conditioner supports the skin's 28-day renewal cycle. Good to prepare skin for a new season. ReVive's Intensive Moisturising Serum is lightweight and delivers nutrients and hydration.

Estee Lauder - the Hydrationist collection contains a sustainable moisture complex featuring revival plant extract to help skin sustain internal moisture, making it better able to adapt to exposure.