Customizing Your Skincare for Every Climate - Better Living

Customizing Your Skincare for Every Climate

In our neck of the woods, the leaves are just beginning to change, pumpkin lattés are making appearances at every coffee shop, and clothing choices are changing from tanks and Ts to plaid flannels and light sweaters. Weather and climate don’t just dictate clothing choices. They can also impact how you care for your body’s largest and most visible organ: your skin.

Indeed, your location’s climate and weather patterns change your skin’s needs. Temperature, humidity, wind, and even pollution can improve the skin or increase the damage. So, whether you’re moving to a new location or just watching the seasons change, adjusting your skincare routine can be just as important as updating your wardrobe.

Many experts recommend changing your skincare routines every quarter or at least twice a year, typically when clocks change from standard to daylight savings and back again. That way, your skin has a chance to acclimate in advance. Making these adjustments is especially important for the millions of people who live in areas that enjoy all four seasons.

Changing Skincare for Your Climate

So, how can you better care for your skin, depending on your climate and weather patterns? Let’s look at hot vs. cold, dry vs. humid, and more:

  • Hot Climates

Ever left butter out at a picnic on a hot day? What does it do? It melts, of course. Well, your skin’s natural oils are a lot like that stick of butter. As the weather heats up, oils in the skin liquefy and may begin to run, leaving a shimmery trail behind. If you have makeup on, that can run as well. In addition, those liquified oils can cause the skin to break out more often. Not good.

The temptation may be to run to the nearest drugstore for a powerful cleanser to strip away excess oil. Unfortunately, harsh cleansers can dry the skin out, which makes the skin produce more oil, making the problem even worse than before.

Instead, to help clear up the skin, choose a gentle cleanser. Gel and foam cleansers work for most people, but you may want to use a cream cleanser if you have naturally dry skin or if your skin is more mature. After the skin has been cleaned and patted dry, follow up with a lightweight moisturizer rather than a heavy cream that makes you feel like you’re melting.

If you still have excess shine, keep some oil-blotting sheets or a clean makeup towel on hand to pat the excess oil off throughout the day.

And if you are outside in the sun, don’t forget to use a good quality sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher to protect against UV damage, which can prematurely age the skin and increase wrinkles, sunspots, and sagging as well as increase the risk of skin cancer.

Last but not least, watch out for a heat rash. Heat rashes can occur when ducts are blocked, which can trap moisture under the skin, leading to red bumps or blisters. While uncomfortable, these bumps typically resolve after a couple of days. But if they continue or become very painful or are accompanied by fever or chills, please get in touch with your healthcare team.

  • Dewy, Moderate Climates

If you want to have seemingly naturally beautiful skin, one of the best climates to live in includes areas where the air is somewhat damp, but it’s neither too hot nor too sunny. Think San Francisco Bay, Washington State, or Northern Oregon. In this climate, your skin will bask in the moisture from the air and appear dewy and perfectly hydrated. Plus, the decreased intensity from the sun means less sun damage.

In this climate, you’ll have the most freedom to choose products for your skin type, including a quality sunscreen. (You still need sun protection, even if the sun isn’t always beating down on you.) Add a high-quality age-defying serum for even better results to help your skin look soft, smooth, dewy, and younger for longer.

  • Hot and Humid Climates

Feel like you’re melting? You may be in a hot, humid climate—the type of weather where you feel like you need to dry off right after you’ve dried off. The humidity and heat can trap moisture on top of the skin while telling the body to sweat to keep you cool.

The good news is that this climate is gentle on the skin. The bad news is if you depend on air conditioning (and who could blame you?!), you may need to address your skin differently as AC cools the air and decreases the humidity, which may dry out your skin.

To help keep the skin soft and smooth, avoid washing it with harsh cleansers, which can make the skin appear oily. And, use a good-quality, gentle moisturizer on the skin to keep it softer and younger looking.

  • Dry Climates

In stark contrast to the previous climates, if you live somewhere dry, your skin may show signs of damage and look dry, flaky, and dull. You may, therefore, need a more intense skincare routine. Again, start with a gentle cleanser, but limit washing your face to no more than twice a day. (If you get sweaty, you can rinse off, but avoid using even gentle cleansers more often.)

You’ll also want to exfoliate your skin weekly to biweekly to remove dead skin and dry patches. If you wash the skin too often, it can encourage it to produce more oil. Again, this can lead to breakouts.

After you have cleaned or exfoliated the skin, make sure you coat the skin with a quality moisturizer made for dry skin. You may also want to keep a facial mist around to spritz your skin on hot, dry days, which can refresh you physically and mentally. You may also want to use a hydrating face mask regularly to help your skin recover from the dry air.

Because the air is so dry, you can also add a whole house humidifier or at least one in the rooms you spend most of your time in, such as your bedroom as you sleep. Just remember to keep your humidifier clean, so potentially dangerous microbes don’t have the chance to grow and spread. 

  • Dry, Hot Climates

One of the harshest climates for the skin is areas where it’s dry and hot, like Phoenix or Sedona, AZ. If you don’t take precautions, this climate can make the skin appear almost leathery, with deeper, more apparent lines. Add in some AC to stay more comfortable, and you dry the skin out even more.

Again, adding an easy-to-clean humidifier can help provide the moisture your skin is longing for, a weekly exfoliating routine, and using only gentle cleansers two times daily (max) can help. Also, choose a quality moisturizer to smooth into your thirsty skin every morning and night. Hyaluronic acid for your daytime moisturizer can help smooth the skin and lock in moisture. And a heavier or thicker moisturizing cream for the nighttime can help prevent your skin from feeling tight and dry, as can the occasional deeply hydrating mask or misting spray.

  • Cold Climates

Love your wintertime adventures? Then, you may choose to live in (or visit) a cold climate. Unfortunately, with the beautiful snow and crisp air comes lower humidity. This combination can quickly strip away moisture, leaving your skin feeling tight, rough, and itchy. (Add a warm but itchy sweater to the mix, and you may feel even more uncomfortable.)

If you want your skin to feel soft and supple (of course!), use a lightweight, creamy or milky cleanser over gels or foams to remove dirt and impurities without stripping away needed oils. A touch of hyaluronic acid can help the skin retain moisture.

Finally, lock in the moisture with ingredients like Bakuchiol and Snow Algae, which help deeply nourish the skin and help protect it even in the harshest environments.  

Don’t forget the sunscreen! Especially at higher altitudes, the sun can wreak havoc on the skin—by burning and drying it out. Take precautions early to protect it.

  • Cold, Windy Climates

Windchill factor adds another layer of complication for the skin. It quickly removes not only heat but moisture, so you feel colder than you may expect from the temperature gauge. Step outside on a cold, windy day, and you may feel like your skin immediately feels tighter. Wind and cold can cause any exposed skin to turn red, crack, and perhaps peel.

Before venturing outdoors, lock in the moisture with a thick, creamy moisturizer. Then, cover up your skin as much as possible with a hat, scarf, coat with collar, and gloves before you open the door. In addition, seek products designed for these climates, including a moisturizing sunscreen on top of your traditional moisturizer. That includes a good hand cream to apply throughout the day after you wash your hands.

While it can be tempting to warm up on a cold day with a hot, steamy bath or shower, that can dry out the skin even more. Shower no more than once per day, and keep it under 10 minutes. Then, choose a gentle, hydrating cleanser rather than soap, which can remove much-needed oils from the skin. Finally, remember to smooth in a rich, creamy body butter or lotion all over your body to lock in moisture.

  • Pollution

Pollution is a growing concern in many areas. While this isn’t directly climate- or weather-related, if you live in a big city or near industry, your skin may have increased exposure to gases, dirt particles, and chemicals that can increase free-radical damage. Some of these pollutants have been found to degrade collagen and the fats within the skin. They may also clog pores. All of this can add up to faster aging of the skin, including deeper wrinkles and age spots.

Start by removing impurities with a good quality, gentle cleanser. Follow that up with a nourishing anti-aging skin serum to nourish the skin with antioxidants and other nutrients.

Supporting Your Skin in Any Climate

No matter where you live or what the weather or climate looks like, if you want your skin to look smoother, healthier, and more hydrated, you need to give it some TLC. That includes:

  • Drinking plenty of water and other fluids and eating water-rich foods to hydrate from the inside out.

  • Avoid washing with water that’s too hot, as that can dry out the skin, or too cold, which prevents the pores from opening to release impurities. Instead, use lukewarm water, especially on the face.

  • Avoid using soap-based cleansers or those that contain harsh chemicals that can strip away the natural oils in the skin. Choose a cleansing product that’s right for your skin type and your climate. For instance, if you have oily skin or live in a humid environment, a foam or gel cleanser may be best. And for dry skin or dry climates, a cream or milky cleanser may be better for your skin.

  • Create a daily skin routine that includes a small massage to smooth in your moisturizing lotion or serum and stimulate blood flow to the skin, which helps remove waste, plumps up the skin to look younger, and just feels nice.

  • If you wear makeup, remove it every night before bed with a clean cloth.

  • Use a quality, natural, broad-spectrum sunscreen daily to protect your skin from further damage.

  • Exercise regularly to help improve blood and oxygen flow to the skin. Even a daily walk can help improve skin health.

  • Nourish your skin with a healthy, nutrient-rich diet made up of mostly whole or minimally processed foods. Strive to consume more omega-3 fatty acids (from fatty fish, nuts, and seeds) and antioxidants (such as carotenoids, vitamins C and E, and phytonutrients) from colorful fruits and vegetables.

  • Sleep with a silk or satin pillowcase, especially if you have sensitive skin, to preserve moisture in the skin and avoid creases that may lead to wrinkles.

Use quality face and eye serums or moisturizing lotions that provide abundant antioxidants and skin-rejuvenating botanicals to help protect the skin from harsh weather and climates.

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Rachel is an accomplished beauty writer with a wealth of experience spanning two decades. Originally from Australia, she started her career as a beauty editor for a renowned magazine in Sydney before relocating to New York City in 2010. Currently, she thrives as a successful freelance writer and editor, passionately pursuing her love for beauty. Rachel has collaborated with numerous prestigious beauty brands, such as Estée Lauder, Lancôme, NARS, Maybelline, and Olay, contributing her expertise to their content creation. When she's not immersed in the world of beauty, Rachel enjoys practicing yoga, exploring new hiking trails, and spending quality time with her adorable Golden Retriever, Bella.