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6 Things You Didn’t Know About Acne-Prone Skin in the Summer

For many acne sufferers, summer is a veritable free-for-all when it comes to breakouts. The soaring temperatures can send our skin’s oil production into overdrive. Combine that with excessive sweating—and for urbanites, inhumane temperatures on subterranean subway platforms—and our usual skincare routines just don’t cut it. Here’s what you need to know to ensure that your summer is a clear one.

Guzzling Water Is Great—But Won’t Prevent Breakouts

Don’t get us wrong—we’re all for increasing your H2O intake during the sweltering summer months. But there’s no evidence to suggest that the amount of water you drink will in any way affect your acne, according to Dr. Amy Wechsler, a dermatologist and psychiatrist based in New York City. If only it were that easy! What will help: cleansing twice a day with a salicylic acid face wash. If traditional cleansers leave your skin feeling parched, try Evologie’s Stay Clear Kit, which pairs salicylic acid with skin-calming ingredients like licorice root and willow bark. Used twice a week, Vasanti’s BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator clears pores and can even help fade acne scars over time.

Keep the A/C Far Away from Your Bed

For those of us living in cramped apartments, the placement of our A/C units is rarely a matter of choice. Unfortunately, close proximity to the cold air can dry out your skin, says Dr. Wechsler, and lead to oil imbalances that can ultimately worsen acne. Install your air conditioner as far away from your bed as possible, so it’s not blowing directly on your face while you’re asleep. And don’t skimp on your regular moisturizing routine just because it’s hot out—keep skin well hydrated with DDF® Ultra Lite Oil Free Moisturizing Dew. If your face feels greasier than usual, you can cut back to moisturizing just once a day.

Fear Not the Ice Cream Truck

Despite what you may have heard about the dangers of supposedly acne-causing foods like dairy and sugar, there’s no evidence to suggest a link, says Dr. Wechsler. Translation: You have the green light to enjoy fro-yo, gelato, and other frozen treats to your heart’s content—or to the extent your sweet tooth will allow.

The Sun Is Even Worse for Acne Than You Thought

While basking in the sun may temporarily heal a few zits, you’ll pay for it later. The sun’s rays are pro-inflammatory, meaning they irritate existing pimples. Your skin’s full-blown negative reaction to the sun is delayed, however, which is why you may notice a temporary improvement in your complexion. “You can have five [pimples] for a couple of days, but then you’ll have 15 when you’re out of the sun,” explains Dr. Wechsler. Not only does sun exposure aggravate zits, but it can also darken the appearance of acne scars. Even worse, many common acne treatments—like benzoyl peroxide and retinol—react poorly to UV rays, causing even more skin irritation every time you bask. Bypass these issues with a sturdy SPF—Dr. Wechsler recommends an oil-free sunscreen with zinc oxide, which won’t clog your pores. We love CoTZ Sensitive SPF 40, which provides broad-spectrum sun protection without any irritating additives.

Wash Up After Going Swimming

Chlorine may have a rep as a natural-born bacteria-killer, but the chemical can be drying to skin. After a dip in the pool, wash your face with a salicylic acid cleanser, like DDF® Blemish Foaming Cleanser, and then moisturize with an oil-free formula like Juice Beauty Oil-free Moisturizer. If you don’t have your toiletries handy, a few splashes of fresh water on your face will help dilute the chlorine and lessen its drying effects.

Keep Your Sporting Gear Squeaky-Clean

The chin strap on your bike helmet could be causing breakouts. “People never wash them, ever,” laments Dr. Wechsler. It’s crucial to clean anything you wear that touches or rubs against your face, because unwashed headgear can spread acne-causing bacteria. Wechsler recommends using rubbing alcohol to clean your bike helmet (or horseback riding helmet, or swim goggles) after every use—or at least as often as you can.

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