Sweat and Skin: How to Deal with Summer Breakouts
By Mia Pinjuh
Ideally, every summer is spent reclining by a turquoise pool; a trashy novel and icy drink within arm’s reach. The harsh reality is that we spend most of our summers dealing with week-long heat waves and humidity-hair. And the star of all of these sticky scenes? Sweat.
Sweat is a complicated beast. On one hand, there’s nothing like post-Barre class exhilaration that leaves you with a pretty flush and no need for highlighter. Oh, this? NBD, just my natural glow, my body is a temple, so on and so forth. On the other (clammier) hand, there’s the clogged pores and workout-induced breakouts that can plague us for months on end and leave us praying for down coats and blizzards.
Now, onto the why, where and “how do I make it stop” of summer skin issues. The good news is that sweating is a net positive for our skin (shout out to hot yoga and saunas). It is our body’s very own AC unit, keeping us cool and increasing blood flow. If it’s a post-exercise glow, you can add a serotonin boost to the list of benefits. A good sweat also flushes out the pores, clearing dirt and oil that accumulate deep in the skin. And the cherry on top is that our sweat also has a protein called dermcidin that has antibacterial powers and works to prevent zits.
So if sweating itself isn’t bad for our skin, then why the summer breakouts? Is it just the universe’s cruel joke that during the months that you show the most skin, you suffer through the worst bouts of acne? The bummer is that any bout of self-reflection will give you the answer. In the immortal words of long-forgotten band Hoobastank, the reason is you. If you’re not diligent about cleansing, the sweat hanging out on your skin will create the perfect conditions for a breakout. Luckily, there are ways to up your summer skincare game that promote both an *angelic* glow and clearer skin.
Changing how you cleanse is a fine place to start. Pick a gentle, non-foaming formula—we recommend something with a milky texture—and use it both morning and night to alleviate build up. The sunscreen that you apply every, single morning (we trust you) might need a double-cleanse with an oil-based product to start. For a portable refresh, either a face mist or a well-formulated face wipe can help in between cleanses on a sticky day.
Then there’s the quiet culprits you might miss at first glance but they may be wreaking the most havoc. Your phone, pillowcase and bag could all be to blame for stubborn summer breakouts in weird places. You might never usually have an issue with your cheekbones, but come July you’re hosting a bunch of zits there. Think of the grime and bacteria from hot, humid days that gather on your phone screen and try not to shudder. Embrace going hands-free, put one hand in your pocket and clutch an iced coffee with the other as you stride on, unbridled and carefree.
If you carry a backpack or a shoulder bag on the daily, invest in a salicylic-based body wash to treat your back and shoulders to the same gold star ingredients that you use on your face. Make sure that you’re wearing natural fabrics that let your skin breathe.
Sorry for the visual, but your pillowcase is also a carnival for acne-causing offenders. Where you lay your head each night is likely also home to a build up of sweat, pollution and general accumulation of dirt. Gross, we know! Resist the urge to run for the hills and swap out your pillowcases every few days to give your skin a fighting chance to recuperate from the day.
Finally, consider scaling back on your usual skin routine. The rich moisturizer that worked wonders for your flaky spots in blustery January is probably too heavy for sunny days. Swap in a light lotion and use the time you save to bask in the sweet sunshine, cocktail in hand.
Title image: @kennedygivens