Spring cleaning, while lovely in theory like “fresh starts” always are, is one hell of an undertaking in reality. You just want to cut down on the sheer amount of stuff in your possession, and suddenly there are 10 cardigans on the floor and every pair of jeans you’ve ever owned is in a pile and then you’re asleep in the pile and nothing is going the way it was supposed to. Been there.
Good news: A legit spring cleaning for your face is nowhere near as much of a commitment. As long as you know what you’re doing, it’s actually pretty easy. Like, four-steps-total easy. Forget that whole KonMari situation and get a head start here instead, courtesy of three people who know what they’re talking about.
Exfoliate Like Your Life Depends on It (Gently, Though)
There’s never a good time to scrub the hell out of your skin, so don’t do that—but with that said, exfoliating scrubs and peels are, like, everything right now. Dead skin cells have had all winter to build up, which results in the season’s signature dryness, dullness, and dehydration. Chic.
Shed the baggage without irritating a complexion that’s still touchy from weird weather by employing a steady routine that includes gentle but thorough exfoliation. Dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf, MD, FAAD, advises, “Face steaming followed by a gentle scrub and kaolin-based mask is my go-to when it comes to more thorough face cleansing at home” (i.e., in lieu of a $$$ pro facial). Add a non-irritating peel such as Glytone Rejuvenating Mini Peel Gel once a week, and you’re golden.
Everyone ever will tell you that you must swap out your heavy winter moisturizer for a lightweight gel, trade in your creamy cleanser for a foaming one, etc., etc.; but the truth? Not necessarily. “Changes in your routine should reflect each individual’s skin type,” says Dr. Jessica Weiser, MD. “While some skin will significantly ramp up oil production as the weather turns warm, this isn’t universal.”
So if you have dry skin year-round, or oily skin that’s as shiny in the spring as it is when the ground is covered in snow, there may not be a real need to make drastic changes. If your skin feels drier than normal, ramp up the intensity of your moisturizer; if it starts to get oily on the spring equinox every year like clockwork, maybe give that lightweight gel a go. Korres Pomegranate Balancing Cream-Gel Moisturizer is a good one.
Repair Your Barrier
“Winter skin tends to have symptoms like dryness, redness, scaly roughness, and even inflammation, which occurs because the low humidity dries out the top layer of the skin,” says dermatologist Dr. Ronald Moy. The weather, with its icy temperatures, high winds, and rampant indoor heating, wreaks havoc on that outer layer—which is your skin’s barrier that keeps moisture in and bad bacteria out. This is very important.
There’s only one way to put that natural defense back together, and that’s with plenty of hydration and very, very careful handling: Avoid hot water, opt for extremely gentle skin-care formulas, and exfoliate before you moisturize so that the nourishing ingredients can penetrate the skin instead of just sitting on top of it. Dr. Weiser is a fan of ATOPALM Intensive Moisturizing Cream, which contains ceramides to help build your barrier back up, and slathering on a cocktail of oils (rose hip and grapeseed are good choices) over a substantial layer of Colbert MD Soothe Night before you go to sleep. Dr. Moy recommends his own DNA Night Renewal for, um, night renewal.
Use All the Sunscreen
You haaaaave to. SPF is the only thing that can actively prevent skin aging, so skipping it is pretty much a crime. Even if you’re just sitting at your desk all day, protection is necessary. Dr. Weiser calls wearing sunscreen every day “universal and of utmost importance.”
Look for formulas that are high in SPF, and reapply every 6 to 8 hours, more frequently if you’re spending time in the sun. (Finally.) Try DNA Defense SPF 50+, or for something with a little bit of tint, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid is always a reliable choice.