Summer Acne-what you can do to fight breakouts in the summer.

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• Why do people seem to struggle more with acne and outbreaks in the summertime?

Heat and humidity cause the skin to sweat more and even produce more oil, which can lead to clogged pores and worsening breakouts.   People who have not shifted into a ‘summer’ skin care regimen may be using products that are too heavy and exacerbate their acne breakouts because their skin care (and make-up) is too occlusive, trapping in oil, sweat, and dirt.  (With acne, skin cells tend to get stuck and clog the pores, exacerbating breakouts.)

Also, you may find that during the other times of the year, a twice daily facial cleansing is sufficient.  But, in the summer when you may be sweating more often, you may need to increase the frequency to a third wash on those hot humid days.  Just make sure that you’re using the correct type of products so that you don’t strip your skin of it’s needed hydration so that you’re not inadvertently triggering an over-production of sebum/oil.

Do heat and humidity “cause” acne, or at least contribute to it? 

Heat and humidity don’t necessarily cause acne but they certainly can contribute to acne breakouts.  This is because excess heat and humidity can cause excess moisture and sweat to sit on the skin and clog pores.  

• How do you suggest treating summer/heat induced acne and breakouts?

Just like any other time of year, the best way to treat summer/heat induced acne is to make

sure that the skin is clean and that you’re using products that support healthy acne-clear skin.

This means that, if you already know that your skin tends to break out more in the summer, be proactive and switch out your skin care as soon as the thermometer starts to creep up and the days are getting longer—use lightweight, oil-free products that contain acne-fighting ingredients, such as salicylic acid, and get in to see your facialist monthly. 

• Please share a few products you recommend for treating and/or preventing acne 

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding acne is that people have it because their skin is dirtier than those who don’t have acne. Using harsh cleansers can actually strip the skin of necessary oils, which then stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce MORE oil, which can exacerbate acne breakouts. Instead, look for gentle cleansers that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and/or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Which cleanser you choose depends on your particular situation and skin type- dry, oily, sensitive or a combination skin.

Elta MD Skincare Foaming Facial Wash. PH balanced and paraben-free, although it does not have active anti-acne ingredients, this cleanser is great for those with even the most sensitive skin. 

Revision Skincare Papaya Enzyme Cleanser has fruit extracts that help to remove impurities from the skin and gently remove dead skin cells.  

ZO Skin Health Complexion Clearing Masque helps to absorb surface oils, clear out clogged pores, and can also be used as a spot treatment.  It contains sulfur, glycerin to help hydrate the skin, and other active ingredients that help to also absorb surface oil.  

Alphascience Phytic Serum is a great product to help treat and prevent acne.  It is able to lightly exfoliate the skin to help get deep inside pores and doesn’t strip away the skin's natural oils. Phytic serum also neutralizes any pollution and normalizes skin sebum.  

Cerave AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen is a really nice, lightweight moisturizer that is great for hot summer days.  Containing ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide, it won’t clog pores but still provides hydration and sun protection.

What are your favorite ingredients for combatting heat-induced acne?

Salicylic Acid is my favorite ingredient to fight heat-induced acne.  A beta hydroxy acid (BHA), it is oil-soluble so it can penetrate the pores of the skin and work within the pores.  Derived from willow tree bark, it softens the keratin layer of the skin and also helps to dissolve skin debris, unclog pores, and breakdown blackheads and whiteheads.  It also acts as an anti-inflammatory which is an additional benefit for those who are struggling with acne.  As a keratolytic, it breaks down the outer layer of dead skin cells, which helps to accelerate exfoliation.  Another benefit of salicylic acid over another common topical used for acne, benzoyl peroxide, is that salicylic acid less drying to the skin, which can cause an increase in oil production (exactly what someone struggling with acne is trying to avoid).

Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) is the other anti-acne workhorse of an ingredient.  Micronized BPO penetrates deep into the pores so it can get right to and kill the bacteria (P. acne) that cause acne.  Non-micronized BPO works on the surface of the skin, so its effects are seen more slowly but also tends to be gentler on the skin, decreasing chances for irritation often seen with BPO use. 

Sulfur is another great ingredient to help combat acne and is most commonly found in masks or cleansers.  It works by helping to dry excess sebum, thus reducing the oils on your skin.

Green Tea Extract is a natural anti-bacterial ingredient that works nicely to help kill P acne bacteria and battle heat-induced acne.  

Anything else you'd like to add?  

You don’t have to suffer from summertime acne if you make some changes to your skin care routine, such as switching from heavier products to water-based acne-fighting skin care, and being mindful to not let sweat and dirt block your pores, which can make break outs worse.  You also may find it helpful to get in to see your aesthetician for acne-targeted facials every 4 weeks throughout the summer to help keep your skin clean and clear.