Summer 2024's Biggest Skincare Trends Center On One Unsurprising Thing: Healthy Skin

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Before any makeup or beauty trends comes the most essential trend of all: a solid, revitalizing skincare routine. This summer, we're putting foundations, bronzers, and mascara on the back burner to focus on healthy skin. After all, makeup looks better on a supple, hydrated, and nourished base. Or, opt to go makeup-free. Whichever you choose — perhaps a mix of both throughout the hotter months — we're putting our energy into a healthy skin barrier first.

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The skin barrier is the outermost layer of our skin, and it needs to be protected and nourished for us to have healthy skin. It keeps water in and environmental pollutants out. All sorts of things can irritate the skin barrier, and harsh products and over-exfoliation can do more harm than good, leading to itchy patches, dryness, acne, and discoloration. Sun damage is another serious hazard to a vibrant barrier. As such, it's not surprising that barrier repair products are on the rise, along with other skincare trends that emphasize healthy skin. The best skincare routine to protect and care for our skin is a simple one: Gentle ingredients are essential, for both those with dry skin and those with oily skin, and everyone in between. So we're ditching complicated routines with a plethora of products, and treating our skin to gentle, simple care this summer. 

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Humectants are crucial this summer for hydration

Humectants draw water into the skin and are essential for deep, lasting hydration. Because of their ability to retain moisture, humectants are vital for a healthy skincare routine and key in an anti-aging regimen. Hyaluronic acid, Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), aloe vera, glycerin, sodium PCA, and propylene glycol are all common humectants found in easily accessible skincare products. Because humectants bind with water, they should be applied after you wash your face, but before you pat your skin dry. This allows you to use humectants strategically for your most hydrated skin ever. "Always add humectants to damp skin," Charles Puza, MD, told Byrdie. Since humectants attract and draw out moisture, they can sometimes take it from deeper in the skin, which isn't ideal; they work best during warmer, more humid months as opposed to dryer months, making them a perfect choice for summer's healthiest skin. Some humectants, like lactic acid, even offer mild exfoliation benefits too. 

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Feel free to apply your humectant morning and night, and seal in the benefits by following your humectant with a moisturizer. Our favorite humectants this summer are PCA SKIN Hydrating Serum from Dermstore for $105, and B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum by Drunk Elephant for $49.

Healthy skin this summer is all about ceramides

Ceramides are trending hard right now in the skincare community, and for good reason. There are myriad benefits to having ceramides in your skincare products because they're great at moisturizing the skin while also building up the skin's barrier. Ceramides are lipids, or fatty acids, that hold water in the skin, keeping it from drying out too quickly. Even though they occur naturally in our skin, it can be beneficial to replenish them through skincare. "Natural ceramides are those found in the skin of humans and other animals," Clara Wilson, MS, PA-C, told the Cleveland Clinic. "Synthetic ceramides, which are human-made, are more stable and commonly used in skincare products."

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Adding synthetic ceramides in a skincare routine will help to shield skin, while also keeping it plump and moisturized. "Ceramides are essentially the glue that holds our skin cells together to form a healthy skin barrier," Wilson explained. "Using skincare products with added ceramides can restore optimal levels of these lipids." Ceramides are emollients, meaning they soften and smooth the skin while filling in gaps around skin cells. A ceramide-rich moisturizer works best when it's applied after your humectant. Paula's Choice Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturizer for $63 is a great choice, as is Farmacy's Honey Halo Ceramide Face Moisturizer for $48. 

Occlusive moisturizer is healthy skin's best friend

Occlusives create a physical barrier on the skin that locks in moisture, essentially becoming a protective layer on the face. Since they tend to be thicker or waxier, occlusives are easiest to use at night, as the final step of your skincare routine. After applying your serums and moisturizer, spread a thin layer of an occlusive — like petroleum jelly, shea butter, or castor oil — on your face and let the restorative ingredients soak in without evaporating away. This step is famously called "slugging," and has become a ritualized practice among skincare enthusiasts. The only knock against occlusives is that they can be too rich for those with oily or acne-prone skin. 

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For those who do tend to get greasier in the summertime, it's still important to lock in moisture, especially at night. Squalane, an organic compound that moisturizes skin, is a great choice for all skin types, especially those with oily skin who want to seal in their toners and serums. Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD told the Cleveland Clinic that squalane worked well for those with oilier skin. "[I]f you don't like the feeling of a thicker face cream, squalane can be really good for you, too, since it's lightweight." Deinde's Moisture-Locking Face Stick with squalane for $36 is a great way to achieve these results. Skinfix's Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream with B-L3™ Complex for $54 is another winner. 

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This summer is all about hydrated undereyes

We're giving special attention to the skin under and around our eyes this summer. Since it's so delicate, it shows signs of dehydration and aging sooner than the rest of our face. For this reason, it's imperative to tend to this area with gentleness and care. Your general moisturizer just won't cut it when it comes to eyes, and while we're resisting the urge to get too complex with our skincare regimens, a separate eye cream is imperative. Perhaps unexpectedly, caffeine is a real superpower in eye creams, particularly if you want to target puffiness. Community Sixty-Six's Hydrating Caffeine Eye Cream for $18 from Sephora is a perfect choice for this. If you want simple, affordable hydration, e.l.f.'s Holy Hydration! Eye Cream for $10 is a straightforward, effective product. 

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But this summer, we're going above and beyond for our eyes. Under-eye patches are an additional way to ensure that we're retaining moisture in that area, and soaking in all of the goodness from our products. Dieux's Forever Eye Mask Reusable 100% Silicone Patches for $25 provide a protective layer after you apply your favorite eye cream or serum. Think of these patches as a physical occlusive for under the eyes. Simply place the patches on your undereyes, and let your eye cream soak in. After 20 minutes, remove the patches and wash them with a gentle soap. 

Last but not least, summer skin health is all about SPF

Summer typically brings with it more sun exposure, and while it's key to wear an SPF all year round, it's especially important in the summertime. The best part about innovative skincare is that there are sunscreen options for every need. There are chemical sunscreens that absorb UV rays and then filter them out of the body; there is also physical sunblock — usually ones with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide — that actively block the sun's rays, and there are combination sunscreens. An affordable hero of face sunscreens is Trader Joe's Daily Facial Sunscreen SPF 40 for $8.99. For those who wear makeup, this sunscreen works beautifully as a base. A wonderful physical sunscreen option is Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 For Face for $40. 

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A new product on the rise that combines our need for SPF with our desire to care for our eyes is the Supergoop!  100% Mineral Bright-Eyed Eye Cream SPF 40 for $40 from Sephora. The innovative sunscreen is mineral-based and offers a shield from the damage targeted at this particularly vulnerable area. So take care of your whole face with sun protection, but also give your eyes this added shield.

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