As if acne isn't already troublesome enough, we also have to grapple with the changes in weather to even further set our skin offtrack. During the summer, regardless of if we're inside or outside, increased levels of humidity in the air can cause us to sweat more, making our pores appear ginormous, and resulting in amplified oil build-up. That's why figuring out how to get rid of acne during the summer can be just about impossible.
"Especially in the summer, it is important to pay attention to all areas of the body, not just on the face," Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City dermatologist, tells TZR. With an increase in bacne and chest breakouts occurring during the warmer season, the time to show off skin, may come with some unwelcomed roadblocks. And Josie Holmes, esthetician at SKINNEY Medspa says the biggest offender of all is sweat. "The sweat that has been left on the skin, in combination to daily exposure to dirt and bacteria will easily clog pores creating acne."
But sweat doesn't have to get the best of your skin this summer. So here are the steps you need to follow to keep it glowy and clear all summer long, according to the experts.
How To Get Rid Of Acne: Prevent Oil Buildup
"One tip for helping prevent breakouts from heat and sweat is to invest in some oil blotting sheets," Holmes says. "You can't go wrong with the classic Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets. I love these because they don't leave behind any powder or residue like some of the other competitors. These sheets will help to pick up any sweat or oils left on your face."
And for face-touchers out there, the summer is the season to break the problematic habit. "By touching your face, you are just adding bacteria and dirt straight from your hands," she says. "Then the cycle of oil build-up continues."
How To Get Rid Of Acne: Increase Your Salicylic Acid Use
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA). This is beneficial particularly for treating and preventing comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads), through chemical exfoliation of the skin. BHAs dissolve the bonds that hold dull, dead skin cells on the surface of the skin so the skin will gently shed, revealing smoother, brighter skin underneath.
And acne sufferers are all-too familiar with the chemical compound known for its drying properties. But during the summer, when skin is experiencing a spike in moisture, it's beneficial to increase use. "Salicylic acid is an excellent comedolytic because it exfoliates the stratum corneum and penetrates into pores to remove sebum," Holmes says. "This helps to prevent pores from becoming clogged and can help remove clogs that have already formed."
How To Get Rid Of Acne: Try Retinoids
"Topical retinoids — like adapalene, tretinoin, tazarotene — are the mainstay of any good acne treatment plan," Dr. Caren Campbell, MD, board-certified dermatologist says. "Acne treatment guidelines remain the same no matter the weather. However, patients are possibly better able to tolerate the mainstay acne treatment — retinoid — in the summer months though as you are less likely to be dry due to increased humidity in the air."
That said, using products that contain both retinoids and benzoyl peroxide can reduce the inflammation of acne during the warmer months. Dr. Campbell suggests applying a small amount to the face 10 minutes after washing for three times a week for optimal results.
But when starting retinoids, don't expect immediate results. "Acne can unfortunately flare before improving during the initial period of a new treatment plan," she says. "Efficacy for any new acne regimen may take six to eight weeks prior to seeing improvement."
How To Get Rid Of Acne: Exfoliate
While the sun is beating down, it may be time to ditch your more gentle cleansers for one that's a bit more potent. Dr. Zeichner insists on one with a great exfoliant to cleanse pores. "Whether you're using chemical or manual exfoliation, these products can help remove build-up from the surface of the skin and keep the pores clear," he says. And luckily, there are some great options both for face and body. "Ghost Democracy's Daily Exfoliating Face Cleanser contains a combination of hydroxy acids to remove excess oil from the skin, and Dove's Exfoliating Body Wash contains gentle manual exfoliators that help gently remove dead cells from the surface of the skin," he says.
How To Get Rid Of Acne: Switch Up Moisturizers
A switch to less emollient moisturizers is one of the easiest way to decrease oil production. However, don't stop using them completely. "Your skin still needs hydration," Dr. Zeichner says. "Look for light, oil free formulas that won’t clog your pores." You may also be able to find a moisturizer with a low-level of salicylic acid, which hydrates while simultaneously fights acne and hydrates. "Aveeno Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer offers light hydration and can help keep the pores clear," he says.