Summer is fast approaching and it’s a season that can wreck havoc on your skin. Make some plans now and you will be loving your skin in September, perhaps more so than you do right now. But, rule #1? DO NOT SUNBURN YOUR FACE. Okay, now that I’ve screamed at you, let’s move on to some expert advice.

Summer Skincare Tips

We asked Jemma Hurst, R.N., BSN at Zap! Laser and Aesthetics to talk us through some skincare basics to which everyone should be paying attention. We also asked her to weigh in on which products to spend extra money and which to pick up at your local drugstore.

Jemma Hurst
Jemma Hurst, R.N., BSN of Zap! Laser and Aesthetics. Photo credit: Wiff Harmer

To start with, Jemma is a big fan of SkinMedica products. Thus, when they broke down skincare to a simple to remember “GRASS” system, she followed suit: G is for growth factors, R is for retinoids, A is for antioxidants, S is for sunscreen, and S is for special serums/needs that are specific to you. “It’s easy to remember GRASS,” she says, noting that “SkinMedica reps were saying this years ago and it struck a cord, so now I use this same acronym with my clients.”

Let’s talk through it all and how to specifically embrace these for summer.

*SB Note: these are not in GRASS order, but in the order of importance. Also, while we have included photos and online links, it’s best to purchase under the guidance of your skincare professional, to help you choose the optimal products for your unique skin.


Jemma says that hands down, the most important of these products is sunscreen. “You can reverse a lot of hard work with one sunburn. Don’t do it. Cover up with sunscreen and physically create a barrier with a hat and sunglasses. My favorite ‘a-ha’ product to share with clients is the ColorScience Mineral Powder with an SPF of 30. You can brush it on as you are biking, playing tennis or poolside. It creates a physical barrier with the minerals, so do re-apply if you wipe your face with a towel during activity. Another favorite product is SkinCeuticals UV Defense products with an SPF of 20-50. It’s great under makeup and contains zinc oxide to protect with a wide spectrum. If buying at the drugstore, I’d recommend anything with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in the first 4 ingredients and with all of them, reapply every 2 hours if you are in the sun.”

ColorScience Mineral Powder with built-in brush. Easy easy easy to apply! $52.
ColorScience Mineral Powder with built-in brush. Easy easy easy to apply! $52.
SkinCeuticals Defense, $40
We followed Jemma’s advice and found this Vanicream sunscreen with 11% zinc oxide. Found at Walgreens. $15.55.


“I believe retinoids are the most economical, anti-aging beauty tool you can have in your regimen — medical grade, that is. Medical grade is now formulated so your face doesn’t look destroyed after using it like the Retin-A of the past. If I were to advocate for any one product, beyond sunscreen, it would be a retinoid. Everyone should be using one!

You really need to get this product from a doctor’s office (like here at Zap! Laser or at another medspa. Some dermatologists prefer to give prescriptions for their favorite). The medical grade products show quicker and more noticeable improvements. That said, definitely any retinoid product is better than none.

There are decades of studies to back up the claim that retinoids help with wrinkles, acne, tone and texture. I really like the SkinMedica products as they are gentle enough that even more sensitive skins can tolerate them.”

SB Note: we have not added photos here as you need to get these through your medical professional.


Jemma reminded me the importance of Vitamin C for skin. Why? As we age, our skin naturally loses elasticity and becomes thinner. Antioxidants counteract this by providing protection against the effects of damaging free radicals on the cells in your body, including your skin. So, eat your fruits and veggies, but also get additional Vitamin C to the skin. She also explained that for Vitamin C to be absorbed by the skin, it needs Vitamin E. Thus, all products are not created equally, as you need the perfect balance of C and E for the C to actually help out your skin effectively. She says it’s sort of like a marinade on chicken. You can put the herbs on, but without some olive oil to help the flavors penetrate, you won’t ever achieve the results you are hoping for. She recommends SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic and SkinMedica C+E Complex.

For acne-prone skin, she suggests SkinCeutical’s Phloretin CF to get that much needed dose of antioxidants without the E component. I asked if there were a drugstore brand she could recommend, but this is the product that Jemma suggests always splurging on: “I don’t believe that drugstore brand antioxidants pack the same punch.The pH can be very unstable if not formulated correctly, hence the price. I don’t believe there is a comparable over-the-counter version. Yes, this is a product to save up for.”

C&E products
SkinCeutical’s Phloretin CF ($163), SkinMedica C+E Complex ($98), SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic ($163)

Special Serums for Special Needs (that are specific to you):

Basically, what bothers you? What are you sensitive about? Jemma most often hears of pigment issues (age spots, melasma or freckling) and advises laying off of hydroquinone for summer. But if you are using a hydroquinone product, seek professional help for instructions on how to use it AND how to stop using it. It should only be used under close professional supervision. If you stop use without the proper tempering, the discoloration will likely come back, and sometimes it comes back stronger than before. This can be prevented with a protocol to ease off the product.

And for summer brightening? Jemma loves SkinMedica’s Lytera brightening product for this high UV season.

SkinMedica LYTERA Skin Brightening Complex, $130.

Growth Factors:

Growth Factors are basically “fertilizer for the skin,” and are particularly important after procedures such as skin resurfacing lasers (like Fraxel or Clear and Brilliant) and peels. They occur naturally and are what help our bodies heal, and they typically start declining in our late 20’s. Have you noticed that bruises take longer to go away and cuts take longer to heal than when you were a kid? That’s because of the declining growth factors and slower overall cell turnover as we age. Adding naturally-occurring growth factors to your skincare routine, by way of topical application, helps to trick your body into creating more collagen and will create a noticeably smooth skin and decrease wrinkles. Jemma recommends SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex or SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum.

SkinMedica TNS products.

So, what about a moisturizer?

Jemma definitely has her favorites from the brands carried at Zap! Laser but for drugstore bargains, “I like Cerave PM for moisturizer and Cetaphil facial cleansers. I like glycolic washes, too. Make sure not to use exfoliating skin cleansers more than once or twice a week — and don’t use them with your Clarisonic! It’s most important to cleanse the skin 2 times a day and then put the moisture back. Even acneic clients need to use moisturizer. If the epidermal layer it too dry, our bodies will naturally try to compensate by producing more sebum (oil) and can create even more breakouts.”

Cerave is a great drugstore option. $12.99.
Cetaphil is an excellent product for cleansing your face. $11.49.

Now, what order to use these? That can be confusing to, so here goes:


Growth factor
Pigment treatment


Growth factor
Pigment treatment
But, here are some times it might get different: “Sometimes you have to pick and choose … TNS essential Serum has growth factors, antioxidant and brighteners all in one … So, just one pump in a.m. to cover all three steps. You definitely want to use antioxidants in a.m. but once a day is enough. Growth factors and pigment regulators can be used twice for best results. Retinal is only at night.
In a hurry? I get it. It’s hard to get it all in sometimes! When I’m rushed or extra tired, this is my routine:
morning: wash, C&E, sunscreen; night: wash & retinol or wash & growth factor and then moisturize.”

Thanks, Jemma! Find out more about Zap! Laser and Aesthetics here and purchase many of the items mentioned today at their online store: here.





About the Author
Liza Graves

As CEO of StyleBlueprint, Liza also regularly writes for SB. Most of her writing is now found in the recipe archives as cooking is her stress relief!