With the heat index in the triple digits many days this month, skin care and sun protection are of utmost importance. “Sun can do so much damage, even in very small doses,” says esthetician Nicole Drewes, of Skincare STL. “Simply walking to your car when it’s 100 degrees can cause wrinkles, sunspots and even cancer. It’s crucial to always wear SPF.”

Drewes also stressed the importance of proper cleansing, especially during the summer when pores can become easily clogged thanks to layers of sunscreen. “A lot of people don’t cleanse their skin as long as they should,” she says. “You should work the cleanser into your skin for 1 to 2 minutes, which is a lot longer than what most people think or know to do. You want the cleanser to get worked into the pores instead of just [applying it] topically.”

For those looking for a natural first step in their skin care routine, look no further than Herbaria on the Hill. Featuring handcrafted soaps made from lye — rather than oil-stripping detergents that are included in most soaps available at the drugstore — Herbaria has dozens of all-natural soaps to choose from. Owner Ken Gilberg suggests the “Tomato Surprise” bar as a great facial cleanser that tones the skin.

Proper cleansing and slathering on sun protection should be your primary concerns during the summer, but don’t let other necessary skin care fall to the wayside. Spending time in the sun will dry your skin out, so moisturizer is imperative; however, you’ll need something lighter than what you use the rest of the year. Particularly with our Midwest humidity, it’s crucial to keep your moisturizer light, such as a gel moisturizer.

After understanding the basics of summer skin care, it’s time to add a “treatment” step. Typically housed in serums, key ingredients to look for include Vitamin C, retinol and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Many skin care aficionados suggest using a Vitamin C product in the morning, then using retinol and AHAs on rotating nights; these should be applied after cleansing but before moisturizer. Drewes also recommends getting a professional facial every few months; however, “If you’re not taking care of yourself at home, it’s not going to matter. Even having a simple three-step routine — cleanse, treat and moisturize — can make a world of difference.”