9 Reasons You Break Out More During The Summer

by Summer Arlexis
Originally Published: 
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Bikinis and flip flops aren’t the only things being broken out once the warm weather hits. You’re probably finding that you break out more in the summer, too. Whether you have acne-prone skin or deal with the occasional pesky pimple, summer breakouts can sneak up on just about anyone.

As temperatures peak, many of us are showing more and more skin these days. But no one wants a day at the pool or a backyard barbecue ruined by bumps and blemishes. Talk about your pores clogging to the max when sweat mixes with heavy oils, pool chemicals, and more during your daily summertime fun.

You may not even realize it, but everything from your beach towel to your tanning lotion can irritate your skin. The very products that make a steamy summer bearable — sunscreen, bug spray, and floppy hats — may be the culprits behind your zits.

If you’ve noticed frequent acne attacks, it might be time to switch out your heavy moisturizers and sprays for lighter, oil-free options. You’ll even want to reconsider the pressure you put on your skin from clothing. This and more may be the reason you’re experiencing breakouts during vacation season. All in favor of learning the error of our ways? Read on to discover the reasons you may be breaking out more, and stop the summer flare-ups dead in their tracks.

1. Swimming Pools

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With all of the chemicals floating around in pools, it’s no wonder they have a complicated effect on breakouts. According to President of Livad Skin Care Dr. Janet H. Prystowsky, MD, PhD, the antibacterial properties in chlorine are generally helpful for those battling eczema and psoriasis. Chlorine can dry up pre-existing pimples and prevent them from getting infected. Sounds too good to be true, huh?

On the downside, however, too much chlorine exposure can make matters worse. If your skin becomes too dry due to pool chemicals, oil production will increase. Excess oil then clogs your pores, leading to acne.

Chlorine can be tricky, because it can’t get deep into acne pores when there is oil blockage. “The bacteria that feed on the trapped grease in pimples will not be killed by the chlorine because it cannot penetrate the trapped oil,” Dr. Prystowsky tells me via email. In this case, too much chlorine triggers a breakout, and it won’t be able to dry the new blemishes up.

2. Beach Towels

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Some causes of breakouts aren’t so obvious. Even something as simple as rubbing a beach towel across your body can aggravate your follicles and worsen your acne. When the heat and humidity kick into overdrive, Dr. Prystowsky recommends blotting dry the acne-prone areas of your body gently.

3. Bug Spray

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Annoying, little bugs can make any outdoor outing a bummer. What’s even more depressing is the fact that your defense against creepy crawlers may be causing your breakouts. The chemicals in bug sprays can clog pores, Dr. Prystowsky says, leading to pimples on more than just your face. Insect repellents can also cause other skin rashes and irritation when their ingredients have an adverse affect on your skin.

4. Clothing

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Believe it or not, your clothing can mean the difference between a breakout and clear skin. “Any pressure on the skin in an acne-prone region of the body can stimulate acne,” Dr. Prystowsky adds. Wearing a snug hat or clothing can aggravate spots on your forehead and other parts of your body, while tight clothing can also trap sweat and dirt, leading to, you guessed it, clogged pores. Ultimately, it’s best to opt for breathable fabrics during the summer.

5. Sunscreen

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It goes without saying that sunscreen is a must when you’re baking in the summer sun. While there’s no denying the need for UV protection, most of us can actually do without the acne-inducing properties of sunscreen. According to Dr. Prystowsky, two major factors contribute to sunscreen-related breakouts: The chemicals present in water-resistant formulas aggravate pores, while blocking the sun prevents the rays from fighting acne.

Dr. Prystowsky tells me that water-resistant sunscreens often contain more ingredients that tend to cause pimples. Not to mention that these sunscreens can be difficult to wash off, causing more aggravation to your skin as you try to remove them. Additionally, the sun usually helps combat zits by killing bacteria. When you block out the rays with your sunscreen, you’re not benefitting from this natural acne remedy.

6. Moisturizers

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Keeping the use of oily products to a minimum is a must during the summer months, Dr. Prystowsky says. Heavy creams and lotions may occlude pores on the neck, chest, and back, meaning pimples won’t be restricted to just the face. When the summer heat kicks into high gear, consider trading your heavy moisturizers in for lighter, oil-free products.

7. Tanning Lotion

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The same goes for tanning lotion, which contains ingredients that can clog your pores and irritate the skin. Along with their harsh chemicals, Dr. Prystowsky notes that some tanning lotions may be oily, causing flare-ups on acne-prone skin. Opt for self-tanners that are oil-free, alcohol-free, and non-comedogenic to avoid possible breakouts.

8. Sugary Drinks

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Consuming loads of sugar has never been known to do wonders for our skin. During the summer months, it seems like we're downing more cocktails and sugary drinks. Unfortunately, sugar aggravates hormonal acne and promotes inflammation, Dr. Prystowsky confirms. So while you satisfy your sweet tooth, your skin is paying for it. Consider backing away from the lemonade stand and keeping a bottle of water handy instead.

9. Wiping Sweat

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Sometimes, it might feel like your sweat causes acne as it mixes with the dirt and oil on your skin. Excessive perspiration during the summer months isn’t the true cause of our breakouts, though. “Sweating per se does not affect acne, but if it leads to wiping the skin frequently, the friction can aggravate the pores and cause acne to flare," says Dr. Prystowsky. Anytime you aggravate follicles on your skin, there’s the potential for acne to go haywire.

We’re deep into the season of bikinis, short shorts, and sundresses. But don’t let a breakout be the reason you refrain from showing a little skin. Watching your habits and the ingredients in your summer essentials will make all the difference.

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