If you have acne-prone skin, do you find that the summer months make the condition worse? Or perhaps you don’t usually have acne, but during the summer you get contact acne (acne mechanica—acne that can be caused by skin contact with certain ingredients in cosmetics, germs and bacteria from items like phones, or tight clothing that causes friction and irritation.
Excessive sweating from sweltering temperatures and humidity, strenuous outdoor activities, plus outdoor pollutants can contribute to clogged pores on the face leading to blackheads and breakouts.
Does Sweat Cause Acne?
It’s not the actual sweat that causes breakouts—it’s sweat mixed with excessive oil, as well as dirt and bacteria on the skin’s surface that clogs pores, aggravates acne-prone skin and leads to breakouts. So the best way to prevent breakouts is a clean face, free of an accumulation of oil and dirt on the pores.
Top Acne Prevention Tip: Keep Your Skin Clean
Proper cleansing is also important. Avoid harsh cleansers and soap that will strip the skin of moisture and natural oils.
If you have oily and/or sensitive skin, wash the face one to two times a day with a gentle cleanser, or a gentle anti-blemish gel facial wash with salicylic acid to unclog pores. Use anti-blemish or antibacterial body washes if you also have problems with acne on the back, chest or other areas of the body.
Exfoliate the skin to unclog the pores and keep them free of dirt and debris. Use an exfoliating scrub once or twice a week. Apply a deep cleansing, pore refining or clay mask (to absorb oil) once a week.
Rinse off Excess Sweat
During the summer we often spend a lot of time outdoors biking, hiking, exercising and doing other activities that cause us to sweat. Be to sure to shower after excessive sweating.
Don't Wash Away Your Skin's Protective Barrier
Don’t overdo it with the scrubs or cleanse more than twice a day. If you have oily skin you might resort too much or too harsh cleansing, which will only dehydrate the skin and cause it to produce more oil in order to restore its PH balance. Excessive dryness can also cause a build up of skin cells, which will trap oil and clog the pores.
Post Cleansing Tips
After cleansing, use a product containing salicylic acid to help remove dead skin cells, which also clogs pores. If you have oily skin that breaks out due to sweat and humidity or normal skin that only breaks out during the summer, you probably don’t need to use benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These ingredients use by some individuals might dry out the skin and actually cause the production of more oil by the sebaceous glands, leading to breakouts.
Since dry skin can also aggravate acne, keep your skin hydrated and moisturized. At the same time you'll want to avoid heavy moisturizers. Only apply moisturizer where needed or switch to a lighter product. Again, avoid products that clog pores like mineral oil.
To eliminate shine and to bloat oil, keep oil-absorbing bloating paper on hand.
Keep your hands off your face. You may be tempted to wipe away sweat with your hands, but this can cause bacteria to spread, especially when hands are not clean. A solution is to keep cleansing wipes available.
Sun Exposure and Acne
Sunscreen is important to wear in summer, but often many of the sunscreen formulations clog pores. Use an oil-free sunscreen. If you have very oily skin opt for a gel-based sunscreen instead of cream. Only use the water-resistant sunscreens when you will be at the beach, doing outdoor activities that will cause you to perspire or when you will be in water. Don’t use water-resistant sunscreen on a daily basis or sunscreen that meant for the body on the face. Face sunscreens usually have a lighter formula, with less oil.
Also note that medications used for acne makes the skin more sensitive to the sun.
If you wear makeup during the summer, make sure it is oil-free and/or formulated for acne-prone skin. You can also use a mineral makeup with micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which will help absorb oil as well as protect the skin from sun exposure. Just make sure you have enough sun protection.
Keep your makeup brushes clean, especially if you have oily skin, to make sure that you cleanse and rinse away any bacteria that might be sticking to the bristles and can result in breakouts.
If you’re getting breakouts along the hairline, neck and back, it might be your products. Hair care products can cause contact acne when it comes in contact with the skin and when certain hair creams and conditioners are rinsed out of the hair and often clogs pores. If you’re using pomades or any greasy or thick products, change to products that aren’t as heavy and that contain comedogenic ingredients.
Contact acne can also result from exercise and other types of headbands, tops that are too tight, and tight bra straps, caused from a combination of sweat, bacteria and friction.
Also make sure that you are flushing out any impurities and toxins from within the body and are keeping hydrated by drinking enough water.
Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and fresh juices (avoid the sugary sodas).
Try to avoid stress that can be caused by heat (and heated emotions). Work to stay cool inside and out.
If these lifestyle changes or the use of over the counter acne medications don’t get rid of your acne, or the acne seems to be getting more severe, see a doctor to find out the cause and to create a skin care regimen.