A woman with healthy skin in springtime

How to Transition Your Skincare Routine from Winter to Spring

A few simple swaps will help get your skin glowing as the weather warms, says Dr. Pimple Popper.


2 minute read

With signs of springtime all around, it’s time to start swapping winter’s ultra-rich creams and dry-skin soothers for warmer-weather products. To help make the move easier, we’ve formulated a plan based on the cleanse, treat, moisturize philosophy of board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper). Here are her top recommendations for transitioning your skincare from winter to spring.

What happens to our skin in springtime?

Our skin is incredibly adaptable: as the seasons transition, our skin changes as well, allocating resources and shifting priorities to maintain optimal function. Warmer temperatures and increased sun exposure mean your skin needs to increase its ability to keep you cool and protect itself from environmental damage.

It’s worth noting that weather can change much more rapidly than our skin can adapt — which explains why your skin can seem a bit finicky as seasons shift.

These functional changes can include:

Dr. Pimple Popper's Spring Skincare Picks

Dr. Sandra Lee’s tips for spring skincare

#1 Exfoliate gently

Winter can leave your skin feeling dry and flaky, accumulating dead skin cells that dull your complexion. Spring is the perfect time to slough off this layer through gentle exfoliation. Dr. Lee prefers mild chemical exfoliants that won't strip your skin of its natural oils. She recommends a combination of oil-soluble beta hydroxy acids (to clear out pores) and water-soluble alpha hydroxy acids (to remove dead skin cells).

If you’re new to exfoliating, moderation is key – start with once or twice a week and only increase frequency as needed, and as your skin tolerates.

Try: SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser, AHA/BHA Swipes, Retinol Resurfacing Serum

#2 Switch to lighter moisturizers

When you start noticing that your skin is producing more natural oils, it can be tempting to eliminate the moisturizing step altogether. This is especially true if you've been using heavy creams to protect your skin barrier against winter's dry air. But according to Dr. Lee, that’s a common mistake: rather than not using moisturizer at all, it’s best to make sure yours is formulated to work with all skin types, including oily/acne prone. This is because moisture loss (including a process known as transepidermal water loss, or TEWL) happens to all skin types.

Choose lotions or serums that are hydrating yet lightweight. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin and aloe can keep your skin moisturized without the weight, making them perfect for the spring season.

Try: SLMD Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer, Facial Moisturizer w/Vitamin C

#3 Incorporate antioxidants

Spring brings longer days and more exposure to sunlight, making it crucial to bolster your skin's defense against environmental stressors. Antioxidants are your allies in protecting your skin from damage caused by UV rays and pollution. Vitamin C is a powerhouse antioxidant that not only offers protection but also brightens your complexion and promotes an even skin tone. Incorporating antioxidant-rich serums or creams into your morning routine can provide a protective shield for your skin throughout the day.

#4 Stay sun smart

As you spend more time outdoors enjoying the spring weather, don't forget the importance of sun protection. Continue to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 daily, even on cloudy days. Sunscreen not only prevents sunburn but also shields your skin from premature aging and the risk of skin cancer from UV radiation. For added protection, consider wearing hats and seeking shade during peak sun hours. Keeping sun smart is a year-round commitment that is especially crucial during the transition into spring.

Dr Sandra Lee

Dr. Lee's Last Word

I’m a big believer in keeping skincare as simple as possible: combining a few effective ingredients that I use in my dermatology practice, tailored to your skin type. As we move from winter to spring, you want to think about exchanging some of your intensive moisturizing products for more lightweight ones, and incorporating exfoliants and antioxidants into your daily routine. And don’t forget you need sunscreen that’s at least an SPF 15 every day!


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