Seasonal skincare: How to transition your beauty routine from winter to spring

A dermatologist on why skin is affected by weather changes — plus what you can do about it.

A dermatologist on why skin is affected by weather changes — plus what you can do about it

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

This article was originally published April 10, 2019 and was updated April 7, 2021 to reflect current product pricing.

With the days getting longer and the weather gradually heating up, you may be noticing some changes in your complexion, too. "The extremes in our climate cause most skin to go through a period of acclimatization," says Dr. Nathan Rosen, a dermatologist based in Burlington, Ont.

We all know that winter weather does harsh number on our skin. "Cold weather can make skin drier, more sensitive, less tolerant of certain skincare ingredients [and more easily irritated] by aggressive exfoliation," he explains. But consider that when higher temperatures roll around, and sweat and humidity inevitably follow, your skin may begin to feel more slick than tight, as oil-creating sebaceous glands kick into overdrive. So just as you would swap your heavy winter layers for more warm weather–friendly clothing, "this is a good time to change up skincare routines," advises Dr. Rosen.

To keep your skin happy, healthy and glowing during the seasonal change, Dr. Rosen recommends the following: dipping into lighter moisturizers, but deeper cleansers; adding in a retinol treatment or trading up to a stronger formula; and reaching for a good exfoliating peel to "slough off dry winter skin."

Keep reading for products and tips to keep your complexion in tip-top shape.

Agent of shield

Dr. Rosen's very first piece of advice when it comes to caring for skin in spring? "Think about sun protection," he says (though he recommends using sunscreen daily and year-round, too). Sunscreen is considered the most important anti-aging hero out there: the sun and its harmful ultraviolet rays on unprotected skin — no matter the season — are the main causes of visible signs of aging appearing prematurely (hello, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles). Harnessing the powers of calming oat and anti-inflammatory feverfew extract, plus the antioxidant properties of vitamin E, this zinc-oxide mineral sunscreen blends seamlessly into skin without leaving pesky white streaks. Bonus: The sweat-resistant formula layers beautifully under makeup and is free of potentially irritating parabens, phthalates, dyes and fragrance, so it's also suitable for sensitive skin.

Aveeno Sensitive Skin Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50, $15.99,

Power cleanse 

Canadian anti-aging skincare line Jouviance is known for its skin-coddling formulas, so it's no surprise that this gentle yet effective cleansing gel works hard to remove the day's grime, excess oil and your makeup (even waterproof products!) without leaving skin feeling dry and tight. What's more, the all-natural formula is infused with skin barrier–protecting sweet almond oil, conditioning linseed extract and soothing aloe vera to simultaneously tone and hydrate, while panthenol helps strengthen lashes and brows.

Hydractiv 4-in-1 Cleansing Gel, $24, Jouviance

Eau, naturally

Hydration, which means replenishing and maintaining your skin's water content, is a must for optimizing your complexion's natural suppleness and protective barrier against the elements and daily aggressors, from cold winds to continual sun exposure. Spiked with thermal water from Vichy's volcanic source in France (the water alone contains 15 skin-strengthening trace minerals, including potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium and iron), hyaluronic acid, shea butter and vegetable glycerin, this featherlight gel moisturizer is able to deliver a serious shot of long-lasting hydration deep into the skin.

Aqualia Thermal Light Cream, $39.95, Vichy

Bedtime boost

You've no doubt heard the hype around retinol. When applied topically, this powerful form of vitamin A can help stimulate collagen production and cell turnover, which means a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and a more even complexion. It's basically considered the superhero of noninvasive wrinkle-prevention. This unique complex from Quebec-based pharmaceutical skincare line Vivier contains one per cent pure retinol to treat fine lines, refine pores and help prevent wrinkles. Tip: Treat your retinol treatment like the caviar of your skincare routine because a little really goes a long way. Only a thin layer of this formula is needed, and it should be applied to clean, dry skin at night. If you're a retinol newbie, gradually build up a tolerance by introducing it into your nightly routine once or twice a week.

Vivier Retinol 1.0% Night Complex, $114,

Smooth operator

Don't let the small vials fool you; this four-week exfoliating peel system means business by pressing the reset button on your skin. Made up of a skin-sloughing alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) and polyhydroxy acid (PHA), as well as Elizabeth Arden's exclusive anti-aging antioxidant, Idebenone, this intensive resurfacing treatment is formulated and packaged so that it can easily be applied at night after cleansing for 28 days.

Elizabeth Arden Prevage Progressive Renewal Treatment, $215, Shoppers Drug Mart

Get glowing

When it comes to getting a radiant, more even complexion, vitamin C is the top name in the skincare game. "It's a powerful antioxidant that has been proven to help fight free radicals and protect against damage caused by UV radiation," says Dr. Rosen. "Vitamin C brightens skin and helps boost collagen production, which can lead to firmer, smoother skin. Along with sunscreen, adding a good quality vitamin C serum to your daytime routine is one of the best things you can do for your skin." These genius, single-dose capsules from Neostrata contain 10 per cent pure vitamin C and make applying the correct amount foolproof. Just twist, squeeze and smooth onto skin once or twice daily under your go-to moisturizer.

Neostrata Vitamin C Concentrate Radiance Capsules, $48.99,

Natasha Bruno is a Toronto-based writer with an obsession for beauty, health & wellness, women's issues, and curly hair. Follow her journey on Instagram @natashajbruno.   

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