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Why Your Moisturizer Suddenly Sucks When You Travel


Congratulations! You did it. You successfully figured out the right routine for your skin. You know exactly what to do to keep it balanced, hydrated, and breakout-free. You look good. In fact, you’re glowing.

And then… you move. Or you’re someone like me and trade stiff Manhattan indoor heat for Miami humidity every Thanksgiving. (The things you do for family!) The new climate throws a bag of wrenches at your face and you’re left dodging, dipping, diving and dodging your way through a slew of new skin issues you’d never even thought about. “Skin can really act up when changing climates, and might take up to a couple of weeks to rebalance,” explains New York-based aesthetician Sofie Pavitt. “Adjusting products and tweaking your routine is a great way to compensate.” What kind of tweaking, you say? Let us walk you through the most important products to swap out.

Cold → Hot

Traveling to a place with more sun and sweat is a call to rethink your moisturizer. Leave behind heavy creams—like keeping on your snow jacket when you enter a heated car, wearing something heavy on your face is just uncomfortable. “Switch out oil based creams to lightweight gel moisturizers,” says Pavitt. “Serums and essences are lightweight and won’t make you feel congested in the heat, like heavier oil creams might.”

Hot → Cold

If you’re used to using gel moisturizers you should know: they might be the thing turning your skin red in cold winter temperatures. “Water-based products can freeze on the surface of the skin in cold temperatures and burst capillaries,” explains Pavitt. She suggests switching water-based products to oil-based ones. Not only will heavier creams feel good on cold, windburned skin, but they’ll also help fortify its natural protective barrier so it can function like it normally does. Look for ingredients like oils (duh), ceramides, and fatty acids.

Dry → Humid

“Humid, sticky weather can ramp up oil production,” says Pavitt. While that might feel good if your skin is naturally dry, or you’re used to fighting weather-induced flakes, you might find yourself breaking out more than usual. To avoid clogged pores, she emphasizes regular exfoliation. “Acids like AHAs and BHAs will keep the surface of the skin soft and pores unclogged.” If you’re in a humid, hot place, chase it with a lightweight gel moisturizer. If you’re in a humid cold place, follow exfoliation with a rich cream.

Humid → Dry

“Right now a lot of my clients are complaining of dull, dry winter skin, and dry heating on at home doesn’t make it better, says Pavitt. In dry climates (or in places where you rely on dry indoor heating), hydration is the name of the game. Because moisture isn’t naturally in the air, you have to supplement it. “Pat hyaluronic acid serum on damp skin before sealing it in with a moisturizer,” says Pavitt. You can also mix a few drops into your moisturizer, if you can’t be bothered with an extra step, or look for a cream already rich in humectant ingredients like HA, glycerin, or honey to hold onto that moisturizer. And, did you know AHAs and BHAs are humectants? It’s important to use them in dry climates for different reasons: they’ll minimize flakiness, encourage deeper hydration, and help your skin hold onto that moisture too.

Country → City

Cities might be any combination of the above temperatures and humidity levels, but they’re almost always (OK, always always) more polluted than small towns. After moving to the city, you might find yourself breaking out in places you never broke out before. Now, you really have to make sure that you get all that outside grime off of your skin each morning and night. A gentle, milky cleanser will clean your skin without stripping it, so you can wash morning and night—no skipping. A combination of an antioxidant serum and zinc SPF, which forms a shield between your skin and the outside air, can help as well.

Photos via ITG