Never Use This Skin Product in Summer

Dr. Janet Zand

June 9, 2023

When the weather heats up, it’s time to rethink your skincare routine, too.

Why? Well, there are certain products that can make your skin extra sensitive to the sun ... putting you at greater risk for burning and damage.

And by the way, this is true even for “all-natural” oil and plant-based skincare products!

So what should you stop using (at least for the next few months)?

Don’t use this until fall

The most important product to stop using is one that contains essential oils like lemon, grapefruit, bitter orange, or bergamot, which are all citrus oils.

The problem with these oils is that they’re phototoxic. That means that they can make your skin very sensitive to sunlight and even other forms of light. And that leads to sunburn, blisters, and other skin problems.

So you really don’t want to use products that contain citrus essential oils, and especially not during the summer.

Other products you may want to avoid for now are alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). AHAs and BHAs can also make your skin more vulnerable to sunlight, especially at higher concentrations.

So I’d stop using any higher concentrations of these products, unless you can be strict about avoiding the sun.

Use, but with caution

Now, there’s another product to be careful with in summer: hydroquinone.

Hydroquinone is an ingredient that helps lighten spots caused by hyperpigmentation. And it can also increase your sensitivity to the sun.

So if you’re going to use it, apply it at bedtime. And in the morning and throughout the day, be very diligent about using sunblock and staying in the shade or wearing a hat.

Finally, there’s one more product to rethink in the summer: retinoids. But you may be surprised to learn that it’s NOT because retinoids will make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

Studies actually show that retinoids aren’t phototoxic. No, the real reason to rethink retinoids in the summer is that the sun zaps them of their powers.

See, retinoids are sensitive to sunlight, which deactivates them and makes them ineffective. So the solution is to only use retinoids at night. That way you’ll get the full benefits.

So try these tips out, and let me know how it goes!

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