Sweating, humidity, and uncomfortably hot temperatures: whether your summers are hot and dry or damp and muggy, many people actually do report worsening acne during the summer.
Just like any other acne, summer breakouts can be prevented, or at least reduced, through the practice of some simple tips related to cleansing, protecting, and exfoliating the skin. Using the best, gentle ingredients to overcome your skin's obstacles will help you understand and treat acne no matter the season.
Below are tips for managing breakouts anytime but especially during the summer, including what sort of products to use to accomplish your goals. Understanding the unique challenges of the season and how they can impact your skin is half the battle, as is knowing what your skin in particular needs to thrive.
Why Do I Get More Acne in the Summer?
Certain aspects of summer may seem like they're giving you acne because they could exacerbate the three main causes of acne: bacteria, oil production, and inflammation.
Changes in the weather, the temperature, the activities we participate in, and our general lifestyles during the summer can all trigger these three acne-causing phenomena.
Behavioral and habit changes that occur during this time of year can also come into play. If you tend to swim frequently in the summer, for instance, you may expose your skin to harsh chemicals that dry it out and irritate it, thus triggering these causes of acne. Other aspects like excessive sweating can cause acne to form.
Summer doesn't inherently cause you to break out more, it simply creates a series of triggers that may lead to a cause of acne. For example, higher temperatures and more sweat might lead to more bacteria, enough to disrupt the balance that typically exists on healthy skin.
Oil production may increase during the summer as well; even mild changes in temperature can significantly change sebum production, which in turn leads to clogged pores and breakouts.
To make things more complicated, inflammation as a result of sunburn or sun damage is common during the summer and may also contribute to skin problems.
The problem starts when your skin becomes damaged because of the sun, then it begins to flake. This excess in dead skin cells can clog your pores and potentially cause acne.
Suntanning for Acne
Golden-bronze tans come in and out of style, but they aren't good for your acne or skin in general.
Acne is a common motivating factor for suntanning; many individuals with acne believe that a tan may approve the appearance of their skin or acne itself. Others believe that tanning and exposure to the sun can help accelerate healing times.
But a lack of research to support the idea that UV rays can help with breakouts means there really is no evidence to make such a claim.
What we doknow, though, is that tanning and exposure to the sun's UV rays cause damage to the skin at a molecular level and are associated with a heightened risk of skin cancer as a result.
So, while a tan might mask your acne or make your skin look nicer temporarily, it causes more serious and permanent damage that works against the long-term health of your skin.
To avoid the damage that comes with suntans and burns, always wear an appropriate-strength SPF and reapply regularly.
Avoid unnecessary sun exposure and consider opting for spray-on tans or lotions to achieve the look you're after instead.
Our Top 5 Summer Acne Tips
Addressing summer factors that can cause acne will require a solution with multiple parts, emphasizing keeping the skin clean, free from inflammation, and soothed.
Adjust Your Routine for the Heat and Humidity
If you notice that your skin changes with the season, then your skincare routine can step up to the changing challenge. It's impossible to adequately treat summer skin concerns without a routine that addresses the causes!
The exact changes you make will likely be somewhat personal to you, but here are some tips:
Cleaning equipment that touches your face more frequently such as:
Chin straps on a helmet or headgear
Baseball hats and sunhats
Razors or anything you use to shave your face
Wash your hair more frequently as oil and sweat from your hair may be clogging your pores on your forehead
Consider implementing benzoyl peroxide, which fights and kills acne-causing bacteria, into your routine. The Exposed Acne Treatment Serum combines benzoyl peroxide with natural ingredients like tea tree oil to disinfect and protect.
If you experience breakouts not just on your face, but on your body too, try an acne-fighting body wash, like the Exposed Skincare Body Wash, that's formulated to deeply cleanse the pores of dead skin cells and other grime.
Choose the Right Sun Protection
Many people with acne avoid using sunscreen on their face for fear that it may clog their pores, but sunscreen is just as important for acne-prone skin as it is for clear skin, if not more so; some acne treatment products actually make your body more susceptible to sunburn.
Harsh chemicals at high concentrations, such as retinoids, are notorious for photosensitivity, so following a routine like those from Exposed with effective yet safe concentrations of acne-fighting ingredients and soothing herbal blends can protect your skin from the summer sun alongside your SPF.
For example, the Exposed Clearing Tonic uses azelaic acid to do the same thing as retinol (increase skin cell turnover) but without the photosensitivity.
Sunscreen protects the skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun, which may lead to skin cancer, premature aging, and sunburn. After you get a sunburn, your body kicks into overdrive pushing out the damaged skin cells and replacing them with new ones. But the excess dead skin cells can clog your pores and cause breakouts.
Choose a sun protectant that is strong enough (SPF 30+) without containing acne-causing ingredients like heavy fragrances, oils, etc. Some "comodegenic" (will clog the pores or cause breakouts) ingredients to avoid include:
Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA)
Apply sunscreen every day, especially on your face. Do this even if you don’t think you’ll be outside for long or if it’s overcast. Sunburn causes irritation and inflammation, which in turn cause acne, and it’s best to avoid that if at all possible.
Opt for Light, Breathable Cosmetics
A 2020 Korean study demonstrated a connection between cosmetic use and acne. This connection could be due to makeup products blocking your pores, or certain makeup ingredients causing irritation and inflammation.
To avoid this, choose oil-free makeup products that are non-comedogenic. Water-based products or those with acne-fighting ingredients are ideal, especially if you have oily skin.
We have also included a list of ingredients to avoid, and our recommendations for acne-prone skin here.
Thoroughly Wash Your Face
You should typically cleanse your skin once in the morning and once at night to wash away built-up oil and dead skin cells. But in the summer time, you may need to wash your skin more frequently, such as:
After a workout or walk that caused you to sweat heavily
After using makeup on the skin, like foundation
After wearing sunscreen
We recommend the Exposed Skincare Facial Cleanser for keeping your pores clear, clean, and acne-free all summer long.
Exfoliate Your Skin
Exfoliating is essential for preventing future breakouts and accelerating the healing of acne you currently have, as it allows you to remove irritating and problematic dead skin cells.
Exfoliating products with a bit of texture to them, like the Exposed Microderm Scrub, are great for bringing your softest, healthiest skin to the surface and repairing any damage.
Salicylic Acid for the Skin
Chemical exfoliants, like those that include a low concentration of salicylic acid, can also get rid of dead skin cells and shrink the pores in any season.
The Exposed Clear Pore Serum does just that, and with the restorative properties of licorice root and green tea extract, it sets your skin up for success in the future.
Just be sure not to over-exfoliate. We recommend exfoliating twice a week max.
Stick to Your Routine
Summertime is often full of vacations, breaks from classes or jobs, family get-togethers, camping trips, and other circumstances that can disrupt the normal flow of life.
Remember that a consistent skincare routine is the most successful one, no matter the time of year.
Making a conscious effort to ensure your skincare routine stays in place even as other things in life change may sound simple, but it can be one of the biggest challenges of the season to remember your skin's needs while having fun in the sun.