While this ongoing heatwave may have been full of late summer nights and fun in the sun, you may also have experienced one downside — constant breakouts. Those of us who are prone to acne may be confronted with this scenario every summer. No matter how well you eat or how good your skincare regime is, your face will still break out in spots as soon as the temperature rises. But can hot weather make acne worse or is the theory just a myth?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. When the sun begins to shine, your skin begins to sweat. All of this excess oil combines with dirt that you pick up during the day, sunscreen that you put on to protect from UV damage, and bacteria that naturally lies on your skin. All of this in turn causes pores to become clogged, dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung explained to New Beauty. And when pores are clogged, spots begin to develop.
There's also another reason why your acne may get worse during the summer months. On its site, skincare brand La Roche-Posay details the keratolytic effect that the sun can have on skin. Put simply, this means that the skin's ability to renew itself increases when it comes into contact with sunlight. However, as soon as you step out of the sun and into an air conditioned interior, this "renewal process slows down," allowing dead skin cells to rest on the surface of the skin and, again, clog pores.
If you're a person who likes to exercise, you are also at risk of more breakouts, Dr. Jeannette Graf told Stylecaster. "For people who suffer from comedonal acne, the situation will most likely get worse in the summer, especially if they're particularly oily and/or they work out," she explains. More sebum is produced in hot weather too, potentially providing a further breeding ground for acne bacteria.
This may all sound extremely negative but as with any skincare-related issue, there are several ways to combat the problem. (And no, one of them doesn't involve switching off the sun for a while.) Whenever you feel yourself getting sweaty, wiping away the oil from your skin can help. However, it's best not to do this with your hands and instead invest in some blotting paper or cleansing cloths so as not to transfer more dirt and bacteria.
At the beginning and end of each day, it's also beneficial to thoroughly cleanse your skin to get rid of any nasties lurking on it. Choose a gentle non-comedogenic cleanser and rinse it off with lukewarm water. The lukewarm part is important as, according to Redbook, this temperature will keep pores open and your skin at optimal moisture levels.
If you're an acne sufferer, try products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. The former, as reported by Teen Vogue, eliminates bacteria while the latter gets rid of those pesky dead skin cells that only serve to clog your pores. However, it's important to consult a dermatologist or doctor if you have severe acne as they both come with potential side effects such as dryness and redness.
You might also want to try skipping moisturiser on certain parts of your face — namely, the T-Zone. This section is naturally oilier in most people so adding any other product may be all that's needed to cause a breakout.
But don't miss out on the sunscreen in hot weather. Although you may have heard horror tales about sun cream being the reason for acne flare-ups, apply one that is at least SPF 30 and non-comedogenic to protect your skin. This should help prevent breakouts too.
Of course, there's always the possibility that the sun may help your acne, according to one expert. Dermatologist Dr. Katie Rodan told Stylecaster that "for some who have inflammatory acne, the heat actually helps your situation, so your acne can improve." While leaving sweat to do its thing probably won't help, getting rid of it at the right time can allow for the flushing of toxins from the skin.
As always, acne and all things skincare is a bit of a minefield. But remember, clogged pores will probably be the reason for your breakout. Keep that in mind and summer will no longer be your enemy.