This article was written by Liesa Goins and repurposed with permission from Refinery29.
We spend nine months of the year waiting for summer—the sunshine, the longer days, the warm weather, the barely-there wardrobe that comes with it all. But it’s a bit of a catch-22 that the same weather that begs for sleeveless tops and short-shorts can also make our skin break out in those newly exposed places.
“We’re outside, being more active and sweating more, so our pores are more likely to get clogged,” says Jennifer Segal, M.D., a dermatologist in Houston. “We’re exposing more of our skin to different environments than it’s used to, so breakouts might appear in more areas than we’re used to.”
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Despite the perfect storm of acne-friendly conditions, there’s no reason for your sundresses or shorts to gather dust, or for you to hide out in air-conditioned isolation until Labor Day. We’ve talked to the experts and gotten head-to-toe advice for keeping your skin blemish-free. Here’s how to battle breakouts on your scalp, back, butt, bikini line, and more.
“Warmer, more humid weather means your skin is producing more oil,” says Josh Zeichner, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “The scalp is loaded with oil glands, [which] predisposes the area for breakouts.” Also, fungus—which lives in oily environments, like scalp skin—can cause bumps that resemble pimples.
A salicylic acid-spiked shampoo, like Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo ($6, drugstore.com), can help control excess oil and exfoliate away dead skin cells that could be clogging pores. And if you tend to get dandruff, stay ahead of the situation and use an anti-fungal shampoo like Head & Shoulders Clinical ($7, target.com).
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Hair products can combine with perspiration to create painful bumps, says Doris Day, M.D., clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University medical school. (Yet another reason the pixie haircut is perfect for summer.)
Wearing your hair up is one solution. Another is avoiding heavy, waxy products. Make sure to wipe your ears with an acne-treatment pad containing glycolic or salicylic acid to clear pore-clogging culprits. Try Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Facial Pads ($13, ulta.com).
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Clogged sweat glands can often cause breakouts on your chest, says Los Angeles dermatologist Jessica Wu, M.D. “This is a condition called ‘miliaria,’ and it occurs after heavy perspiration. The breakout looks like tiny whiteheads.” Also called heat rash, the raised bumps can be itchy and uncomfortable.
Keep your skin cool and clear of sweat with cleansing towelettes like Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths ($3, drugstore.com). When you’re out in the sun, keep your skin protected with a light sunscreen like Neutrogena CoolDry Sport ($9, drugstore.com), which will allow your sweat to evaporate to help keep your skin from overheating. Use a peel once a week to exfoliate, which will help keep your chest clear before you’re in a hot spot. Try Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel ($87, reneerouleau.com).
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