Dermatologist’s Guide to the Ideal Arizona Skin Care Routine

When it comes to your skin care routine, it’s best to keep it simple with a good moisturizer and a high-SPF sunscreen. These tips from a dermatologist will help you protect your skin in the Arizona heat.

In a dry, sunny state like Arizona, a good skin care routine is a must.

As the largest organ, your skin is in charge of regulating your body temperature, protecting you from outside infections and serving as a barrier to our environment.

Dermatologists are skin specialists who deal with a wide variety of conditions ranging from eczema, warts and acne to more complex drug reactions, skin manifestations and diseases. They also provide great insight on how we can protect our skin on a day-to-day basis.

Here are some expert tips on how to maintain healthy skin year-round in the desert.

Sun Protection

Arizona’s UV index is consistently elevated, so we see more cases of skin cancer and sun damage than in most other states regularly. This is why it’s so important to stay diligent about sun protection, especially in the warmer months — and it all starts with finding the right sunscreen.

Zinc or titanium-based sunscreens are safer for both you and the environment, which is why most dermatologists recommend them. They are made from minerals rather than chemicals and protect you against the sun’s rays without exposing you to questionable ingredients. The only issue with these sunscreens is that people sometimes find them pasty. However, in recent years new formulas have become more sheer and lightweight.

No matter which type of sunscreen you choose, remember that SPF 30 is sufficient, but SPF 50 is ideal.

On a regular day where you aren’t sweating or spending time in the water, you can apply sunscreen in the morning and then again once every five to six hours. If you do sweat or swim, reapply your sunscreen every two hours.


In a low-humidity environment like Arizona, moisture is key. If you don’t moisturize your skin often enough, the dryness can break down the barrier of your skin and lead to eczema. Eczema is a dry skin condition that most commonly occurs as itchy, patchy rashes on the hands and feet, which make your skin more sensitive and can sometimes cause pain.

To prevent eczema and other dry skin conditions, bathe only once per day to lock in maximum moisture — or twice if you sweat more than most on a daily basis. After you shower, generously moisturize your skin with lotion. Don’t be afraid to apply more throughout the day if you notice your skin is feeling drier than normal.

Skin Care Routine Tips

When it comes to finding a good skin care routine, less is more. The beauty and skin care industry is among the largest in the world, but most of the products you see advertised are not necessary for healthy skin. The market is filled with options, which can make choosing the right products overwhelming, so let’s look at what you actually need. Keep in mind, routines can vary between individuals based on skin color, texture and moisture level.

Skin Care Basics

Keep it simple and focus on the two areas mentioned above: moisturization and sun protection. The key is to give your skin enough moisture to help protect it against the environment, but not so much that it becomes oily and prone to acne. Similarly, you want to enjoy the Arizona sunshine and its many benefits without burning yourself or causing sun damage. Moisturizer and sunscreen are the only two products you really need for an effective skin care routine.


If you want to take your routine a step further, natural products with retinol help produce collagen that tightens your skin. Be sure to only apply retinol-based products at night, as sunlight will deactivate thier anti-aging properties.


When it comes to exfoliation, don’t overdo it. It’s okay to exfoliate every so often, but don’t impair your barrier — you already lose so much dead skin naturally.


Stress, alcohol and greasy foods can all lead to acne. Make sure to take time to relax, limit your drinking and add plenty of fruits and vegetables to your diet that will give your skin the nutrients it needs.

Remember, it’s never too early to start a skin care routine. Teach your children about the importance of sunscreen, make sure they moisturize after bath time and keep babies out of direct sunlight.

Also, men often find it harder to prioritize their skin or seek dermatology treatment because society has traditionally portrayed skincare as a more feminine interest. But the reality is, skin isn’t gender-based. Everyone has it, and there are certain things you need to do to take care of it.

When to See a Dermatologist

Dermatologists are always available to help with acne, warts or dry skin conditions. But make sure to seek immediate medical attention if you notice a growth or lesion, especially if it is bleeding, itching or growing rapidly. You should also visit a dermatologist more often if you notice persistent rashes or have a family history of skin cancer.

It’s best to catch any skin abnormalities before they become serious. To do this, perform a self-skin exam every three to four months using a mirror or your cell phone camera for those hard-to-spot areas. Pay special attention to your face, armpits and back. With the help of photography, most skin conditions can be diagnosed virtually with 85% to 90% accuracy.

Finally, if you believe you’ve already spent too much time under the Arizona sun, it’s never too late to start protecting your skin. Much of the damage may be reversible, as skin is dynamic and able to heal with plenty of moisture and sunscreen.



About the Author

Mansi Sarihan, MD - Dermatology

Dr. Mansi Sarihan is a District Medical Group physician and the chief of dermatology at Valleywise health. She is a board-certified dermatologist and completed her residency training at UC San Diego. She is faculty at Mayo clinic, University of Arizona, and Creighton University and is actively training dermatology residents and internal medicine residents. She currently sees patients via telehealth and in-person appointments.

Read more posts by Mansi Sarihan, MD  Browse all topics

Stay up to date and get notified of new posts.