Summer acne: Another annoying term to add to your dictionary of skin ailments. (See also: vacation acne.) Like the name suggests, this type of acne strikes during the warm-weather months and is exacerbated by things like heat, sweat, sunscreen, and travel.
These factors cause oil, sweat, and dirt to stick to your skin and clog your pores, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. People also tend to be oiler and sweat more during the summer, which can contribute to acne, he explains. But not to worry: You don’t have to choose between clear skin and enjoying your vacation days. Zeichner shared his top four tips for keeping summer acne at bay, so the only things you’ll be breaking out are your swimsuits and sundresses.
Summer Acne Tip #1: Stay Moisturized
Every time I get on a plane, it turns my normally clear skin into breakout central. That’s because the air in planes is incredibly dry, which sucks away skin’s moisture and causes inflammation. These factors lead to—you guessed it—breakouts. “Stay moisturized during your flight to keep the skin barrier in top shape and reduce skin inflammation,” says Zeichner.
Summer Acne Tip #2: Buckle Down on Your Routine
Now’s not the time to be sleeping with your makeup on. (TBH, it’s never the time for that, but can be especially bad for your skin in the summertime.) All that extra oil and sweat that’s on your skin calls for extra care. Zeichner recommends using a cleanser with salicylic acid because it’ll help nix excess oil and exfoliate your skin. We like Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Gel Cleanser, $21. If you can’t bring yourself to wash your face (late-night happy hours, amirite?), do your skin a solid and at the very least use a towelette with salicylic acid. Zeichner recommends Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Wipes, $7.99. You can also try Dermalogica Skin Purifying Wipes, $19.
Summer acne tip #3: Have an Arsenal at the Ready
Okay, so you went to bed without washing your face or using a towelette, and you woke up with a giant pimple. It happens to the best of us. That’s why you need an arsenal ready to fight back. Pick up a spot treatment with benzoyl peroxide, a spot treatment with salicylic acid, and a plain old hydrocortisone one-percent cream. The combo will kill acne-causing bacteria, dry out the pimple, and reduce inflammation, says Zeichner.
Summer acne Tip #4: Check Your Labels
Let’s talk about sun protection. Make sure you choose a sunscreen that’s labeled non-comedogenic, which means it’s been tested and proven not to cause pimples. Also, opt for SPF with an oil-free base, advises Zeichner. We like Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen, $69, because it’s lightweight, slightly mattifying, pore-minimizing, and a dream to apply.
BONUS: 6-Ingredient Smoothie for Glowing Skin
To treat your skin from the inside out, try our smoothie recipe!