How to transition your skincare routine from winter to spring

As we enter spring, our skin needs some help transitioning and adjusting to warmer weather. (Getty Images)
As we enter spring, our skin needs some help transitioning and adjusting to warmer weather. (Getty Images)

With winter firmly behind us and spring officially gracing Britain with its presence, we’re getting into transitional dressing - but our skin also requires some transitional care.

The colder months tend to make our skin feel dry and dull. While springtime’s warmer temperatures and higher humidity is a welcome reprieve from winter, it also means being outdoors in the sun more, which means it’s important to adjust our skincare routines accordingly.

Jillian Osborne, certified beauty expert at face yoga app Luvly, explains: “Environmental factors greatly influence the look and health of our skin. Seasonal changes, UV radiation, humidity, pollution, and temperature all have an impact.

“As the climate shifts, it can be a real struggle to keep it glowing. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity can cause dryness and oiliness in equal measure, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Simple measures - taking it slow, staying hydrated, and supplying your body with vital vitamins - can keep your skin looking its very best come rain or shine.”

An Asian girl looks into the mirror and applies makeup to her face with her hands
Making gradual swaps to our skincare routine can help it acclimatise to changing seasons. (Getty Images)

To help us transition our skincare from winter to spring, Osborne gives us seven tips to get our routines spring-ready.

Spring clean your skincare cabinet

During spring, we no longer need the same type of moisture-heavy treatments that winter calls for. But be wary of simply grabbing last year’s leftover skin products, Osborne says.

"Skincare products have a limited shelf life, so check the expiration date and period-after-opening (PAO) symbol inside the jar,” she advises. “While you're at it, look out for ingredients such as retinol or vitamin C, which lose effectiveness over time (even when they're in date)."

Instead of pushing the winter products to the back of the cabinet, though, Osborne says to consider using them up now. "Seasonal shifts are the perfect opportunity to use up the remainder of last season’s products. Rather than using winter products one day and spring products the next, alternate between them.

s“For example, use your spring moisturizer in the morning and winter moisturier in the evening. This prevents product waste and removes the temptation to keep leftovers that will inevitably spoil.

"Also, spring clean your brushes with a gentle brush cleanser or mild soap to remove any buildup of makeup, oil, and bacteria. Allow them to air dry thoroughly before storing them in a clean, dry container to prevent mould and bacteria growth."

Hydration is key

Drinking water, yoga or Indian woman in home with health, fitness or wellness for natural hydration. Thirsty female person, tired or healthy girl with liquid bottle after pilates to detox or relax
Drinking plenty of water will help keep your skin hydrated. (Getty Images)

The warmer weather might call for lighter textures, but this doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your entire routine immediately, Osborne says. “Gradually change your routine depending on how dry or oily your skin becomes. You might still need richer moisturisers to repair the skin barrier and address any residual dryness from winter.

“Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides also work wonders, locking in hydration. These innovative formulations mimic the body’s natural components, such as collagen, elastin, and hyaluronan, enhancing your skin’s natural glow by replenishing essential nutrients and promoting elasticity."

She continues: "Introduce one product at a time over several weeks, alternating between winter and spring products to enable the skin to adapt effectively. But don’t just rely on formulas - hydrate from the inside out by drinking plenty of H20 ahead of the warmer weather."

Exfoliate away the dullness

Osborne recommends using chemical exfoliants to help shed the dull look winter may have left us with.

"Chemical exfoliants such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) dissolve dead skin cells, transforming dull, flaky winter skin into a smooth and radiant complexion. AHAs work by loosening the bonds between dead skin cells, while BHAs penetrate deeper into the pores, proving effective for oily and acne-prone skin.

Young multiracial woman applying foundation on face with sponge while standing in front of mirror trying to hide skin problems
Using exfoliants can help buff away dull skin. (Getty Images)

“These exfoliants can also reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by promoting cell turnover and stimulating collagen production, resulting in a more youthful complexion."

But she warns not to “overdo” the chemical exfoliants, as they can make skin extra sensitive. As it gets warmer, reduce the frequency of exfoliation to once or twice a week to prevent oversensitising the skin, and to always follow up with lots of moisturiser and sun protection.

You can never have too much SPF

Sun exposure is very damaging to the skin and can cause premature ageing. Osborne recommends applying SPF 30 or higher every two hours, especially when you are outdoors.

When choosing between a chemical sunscreen, a lightweight formula or hydrating protection, Osborne says it really depends on our skin type, preferences and the other products we use, like retinol.

"You need a solution that keeps your skin safe and healthy, so consider personal factors such as your sensitivity, oiliness, and specific skincare concerns.

"For acne-prone skin, consider oil-free, non-comedogenic formulas labelled ‘non-acnegenic’ or ‘oil-free’ to prevent clogged pores and breakouts. If you have sensitive skin, look for mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as they are less likely to irritate. Regardless of your choice, ensure it provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays - and don’t forget your ears and decolletage!"

Top up on vitamins

The lack of vitamin D during dark winter months, when we also stay indoors more, impacts our skin health. Osborne recommends replenishing vitamin D supplies by eating plenty of vitamin-rich foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and leafy greens.

“Vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits can also help to combat winter-induced dullness,” she adds. “And add a sprinkle of nuts, seeds, and oils - full of vitamin E - which protects against oxidative damage.

"These powerful antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals such as UV rays, pollution, and environmental aggressors, which damage cells and increase ageing. With the right diet, your skin will thrive as spring arrives, leaving you radiant as you approach the new season."

Cold water therapy for glowing skin

You may have heard of the health benefits of cold water therapy, but Osborne says it can also benefit your skin.

"Cold water rinses, typically performed after cleansing and before applying products, can invigorate the skin. The cold water constricts blood vessels to remove toxins and reduce inflammation and tightens pores for a smoother appearance. This stimulates circulation, as well as your senses, leaving you with a healthy glow and full of energy,” she says.

You can introduce cold water to your skincare routine gradually with splashes to build tolerance and work up to rinses that last a few minutes. Osborne recommends using an ice globe that can be kept in the fridge or freezer if you have especially sensitive hands.

Spa treatment. Bathroom with white walls full of sun light. Black metal furniture. Grey stone sink. Person in bathrobe. Trendy interior design
Rinsing your face with cold water can help invigorate your skin. (Getty Images)

Help your lymphatic system move things along

Lymphatic drainage massages have been praised by practitioners and celebrities - even the Duchess of Sussex swears by it to reduce puffiness in her face. Osborne says it can also help improve the appearance of our skin as it adjusts to warmer weather.

"In addition [to drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly], try dry brushing,” she says. “Start at the centre of the chin and brush gently outward in circular motions along the jaw towards the hairline. Sweep down the neck to the clavicle to move the lymph fluid away from your face.

“Opt for a natural bristle brush specifically designed for facial use, with bristles firm enough to provide stimulation but soft enough to avoid irritation. Apply light pressure, and avoid the eyes and areas suffering from irritation or broken skin to avoid damaging your delicate facial skin.”

Osborne explains that dry brushing stimulates lymphatic drainage and removes dead skin cells, as well as promoting blood circulation.

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