Each season has its pros and cons—and while summer is awesome thanks to the extra sunshine (hello, beach trips!), you may find yourself confronted with a few not-so-fun skin issues right about this time of year. You don’t have to cover yourself up, though—just take our dermatologist-approved advice for dealing with the most common summer-related skin problems.
“Acne will get worse in the summer from sweating,” says Dr. Robin Evans, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Stamford, Connecticut. So if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, don’t be surprised if you notice extra bumps on your face, neck and chest. In addition to sweat, sunscreen can also cause pimples, she says.
Solution: Shower as quickly as you can after working out, advises Evans. And no matter how tempting it is, don’t squeeze, pop, or scratch your pimples, says Dr. Jennifer MacGregor, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Dermatology in New York City. MacGregor suggests carrying blotter papers with you to minimize oil and shine on the go, as well as cleansing twice a day and gently exfoliating daily. She adds that using over-the-counter 10-percent glycolic acid peel pads like Cane + Austin Acne Retexture Pads+ for two to three minutes three times a week will keep your pores from clogging. Finally, use a low-strength benzoyl peroxide to shrink your spots—just don’t forget to follow up with SPF.
You probably associate dry skin with winter, but certain summer activities will leave you begging for moisture. It turns out that chlorine and bromine (two common chemicals used in pools) and salt water can cause dryness, explains Evans. “People who have a history of eczema might flare in the summer from exposure to chemicals in pools and from salt water,” she says. Oh, and all that time spent cooling off in the A/C? That can contribute to dryness, too.
Solution: “Grease up with a thick petrolatum or mineral oil–based cream before swimming,” like Allerderm U-Lactin Therapeutic Body Lotion, says MacGregor, “then when you get out [of the water], rinse completely and apply again.” To prevent air conditioning–induced dry skin, apply moisturizer twice a day within three minutes of getting out of the shower, says MacGregor.
Along with waxing and shaving, ’tis the season for pesky ingrown hairs and razor bumps. When you wax, hairs get trapped when they grow back, causing ingrown hairs to rear its ugly head a few weeks later, says MacGregor—which is why she’s not so keen on this hair removal method. Meanwhile, wielding your razor the wrong way can lead to those irritating red bumps.
Solution: Found yourself with some ingrowns? Just like we warned you with acne, do not pick or squeeze them! “Gently cleanse and soothe with a gel solution to reduce inflammation and bumps,” says MacGregor. Safe to use even on the most sensitive areas such as the bikini and underarms, Shaveworks The Cool Fix works to prevent unwarranted razor bumps and future ingrown hairs. If you’re prone to ingrown hairs, it’s best to skip waxing altogether. “The best time to shave is in the shower when your skin is wet,” says Evans. Exfoliate first, then apply a shaving cream and glide your razor gently over your skin in the direction that your hair grows. Looking for a longer-lasting solution? “Laser hair removal sessions are the absolute best because the hair is permanently reduced and bumps do not occur,” says MacGregor.
If there was just one beauty product we’d tell you to carry with you everywhere, it would have to be sunscreen. The thing is, you need to apply a lot (we’re talking a shot glass worth for exposed parts of your face, neck, upper chest and arms, says MacGregor)—and often (at least every two hours). “Most people don’t use nearly enough,” says MacGregor. When you skimp on SPF, you could be left with a blistering burn. Ouch!
Solution: Make sunscreen a priority this summer. If you’re worried about SPF breakouts, MacGregor recommends EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, which is made for acne-prone skin. Plus, avoid being out during the sun’s peak hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you do find yourself with a sunburn, taking an anti-inflammatory and applying a cold compress can help, says Evans. Using a product with aloe, like Herbivore Botanicals After Sun Soothing Aloe Mist or Sun Bum Cool Down Continuous Aloe Vera Spray may also ease the pain.