While it may seem like a type-A consideration, changing your skincare and self-care with the seasons could be the key to optimizing your well-being and, by proxy, the skin. “Humans are an extension of nature. What’s going on in nature is what’s going on for us,” said Samantha Story, MS, L.Ac., a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese medicine expert. This is precisely why it’s important to take stock of the seasons as they change. The skin is changing too.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient system of healing traditions that originated in China. According to TCM, late summer is its own, little-known and totally underappreciated season that spans from mid-August to the first day of fall. It’s wild to think there’s a fifth season to understand when it comes to skin care and self-care, but trust. Leaning into the abundance these few weeks have to offer will help you maximize the skin-supporting benefits of summer before the holidays whiz by and we’ve somehow landed squarely into 2020 with dry, tired skin. Not this year.
Late summer is the season of abundance.
Autumn gets all the credit for being the key season of transition, but late summer is where it truly begins. Before you start thinking about how to transition your skin care for fall, take a beat and adjust for late summer first. According to Dr. Abby Paloma, DACM, L.Ac., late summer aligns with the earth element, which “governs the flesh, digestion, nourishment, and the harvest.” The spleen pancreas and stomach are the organs associated with late summer—focusing on improving digestion not only boosts our health, but it can help clarify the skin as well.
Kids go back to school, work picks up in a meaningful way, and the days are noticeably shorter. But if late summer had a motto, it would be: Slow down, it should feel good! This is true, too, of our self-care and skin care. Making the right choices in this profoundly beautiful, albeit brief season is essential to keeping the skin nourished and glowing through the rest of the year.
Drink tulsi (holy basil) tea.
Jill Munson, herbalist and co-founder of gua sha skin care brand, Wildling, recommends incorporating holy basil into your diet. This holy basil tea recipe includes rose, the ultimate balancer, tulsi, which harkens to fall, and hibiscus, a summery flower, making it a timely and nourishing late summer treat. “Tulsi has the ability to boost your body in many different ways, so it’s equipped to help you handle the inevitable stress that comes with transitions,” she said. Munson recommends Mountain Rose Herbs for affordable, high quality Tulsi.
Spritz hydrating hydrosols.
Although it feels inevitable as chillier air sets in, the dryness of the fall and winter seasons doesn’t have to adversely affect your skin. You can take preventative measures now to help. “In Chinese medicine, late summer’s earth element is moist and damp but in a healthy, buoyant way,” said Dr. Paloma. “It’s a good time to focus on hydrating the skin with hydrosols.” Supporting the skin’s hydration while it’s plump from summer’s humidity so you’re working from an advantageous place versus one of deficit come autumn will pay off.
Heritage Store's Rose Petal Rosewater is a classic and budget-friendly option. For a more indulgent and late-summer specific variety, try Lark Skin Co.'s Tulsi + Rose Toner ($22). Spritz onto the skin in the morning and evening before using a face oil or cream.
Enjoy a walnut and/or honeysuckle flower essence.
“Although it’s a beautiful time of year, I tend to feel heartbroken,” Blades said. She’s hardly alone—bidding adieu to summer means that it’s time to return to a more rigorous work schedule, which brings change and stress. Those averse to the cold and dry weather that’s to come may benefit from supplementing their self-care regimen with a flower essence. “Walnut essence can support you through life’s big transitions and protect your energy,” she said. “If nuts don’t work for you, honeysuckle is another helpful one that encourages you to embrace the present.” While they don’t work directly on the skin, they help ease stress which is often the culprit for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory flare ups.
She recommends supporting your local herbalist whenever possible, but walnut and honeysuckle are both available online through Bach’s Flower Remedies. Of course, talk to your doctor before taking any herbal supplements and changing your routine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical issues.
Use an enzymatic exfoliation mask.
Months of beach days and time in the sun can leave a residue on the skin, especially when sunscreen is involved. “I recommend an enzymatic exfoliation mask over a purely physical one for this time of year,” said Story, because plant enzymes are gentle and safe for most skin types.
Try Naturopathica's Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel for a delightfully seasonal option or the super gentle powder-to-mask Enzyme Cleanser from Dr. Sturm.
Add five extra minutes to your skin and self-care routine.
Because the earth element is associated with late summer, it’s an excellent time to center yourself and to feel more grounded—forces of nature are on your side. “For the self, it’s about being thoughtful not just about going back to work, but taking the time to enjoy that extra sunset and continuing to move a little more slowly,” said Jessa Blades, natural beauty expert and green makeup artist. She recommends staying in the bath for five minutes longer than usual and massaging your face for an extra few minutes, too, to soak up the leisurely energy of late summer. Your skin will thank you!