With summer come bare shoulders, beach barbecues, and (a lot of) tropical drinks—but it also brings a slew of new skin issues we’ve managed to avoid in the colder months: razor bumps, heat rash, bacne… the list goes on. But because we’re all for celebrating your beach body (yes, every body is a beach body) and flaunting every beautiful inch of your skin when the weather warms up, it became our mission to figure out how to swiftly avoid all these annoying problems. That’s why we spoke with celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau to make sure our complexions are as smooth and unblemished as possible.
Scroll below to find out the easiest fixes for your most common summer skin issues.
#1: Uneven Skin Tone
“UV sun exposure and heat are major culprits in hyperpigmentation, and most people are exposed to both of them more during the summer than other times of the year,” Rouleau explains. For anyone prone to pigmentation, she says to expect more flare-ups in the summer months because the sun triggers production of melanin cells. “Even with sunscreen to protect your skin, we now know that heat from being outdoors triggers inflammation, which causes an increase in melanin activity as well.”
“Wear sunscreen daily,” Rouleau says. “It may seem obvious, but the sun is one of the biggest causes of pigmentation, both short and long term. Wearing a minimum of SPF 30 will greatly minimize the chance of seeing age spots and sun spots over time.” Once you’ve got your SPF game locked down, she says to exfoliate regularly (“It’s beneficial for breaking up the pigmented cells to allow them to fade”), use a natural skin lightener with vitamin C (she recommends the Vitamin C & E Treatment, $65, from her eponymous line), and incorporate a product with retinol into your skin routine.
Click here to read more about retinols.
#2: Razor Bumps and Ingrown Hairs
Closely shaven hair has a sharp edge that can penetrate back into your skin, leading to inflammation and swelling. “The key to a comfortable shave (and no razor burn) is to condition your skin before shaving to soften the hair and the hair follicle,” Rouleau says. “You need an emollient-based shaving cream that, when applied to the skin, softens the hair and follicle so that when a razor goes across the skin, there is less irritation. Typical foam shaving creams are not emollient enough.”
Rouleau suggests looking for a gel-based shaving cream that really lubricates and softens, allowing your razor to glide easily across your skin. “To prevent ingrown hair, exfoliate the surface of the skin around the bikini area to ensure the hair can come cleanly out,” she says. “Almost every day, I will apply a thin coat of an exfoliating serum with glycolic acid, followed by body lotion right after I get out of the shower. The acid serum will start to dissolve surface dead skin cells that can cause hair to become trapped under the skin.”
The summer heat and UV rays can make oily skinned girls even shinier. But Rouleau warns against overdoing it in the mattifying department. “Drying out your skin with harsh cleansers and alcohol-based toners only give the immediate clean, oil-free sensation, but they are so dehydrating that your skin will pump out more oil to compensate for water loss. The result? Even oilier skin.” Yikes.
To avoid overdrying, Rouleau says to avoid cleansers with the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate, which is too drying for all skin types. She suggests using a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer, like her line’s Matte Moisture ($40), and avoiding ingredients like mineral oil, petroleum, and petrolatum because they can suffocate your skin and clog your pores. We also love DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew ($39) for a light dose of hydration.
It’s not pretty, but someone has to talk about it. Back acne, or bacne, plagues many women throughout the year, but it’s especially noticeable during the summer months when your back is exposed and your shoulders are bare. “Some people are prone to breakouts on their back, which can be exacerbated by working out or sweating more in the summer,” Rouleau explains. She cites other reasons, like panthenol in your hair conditioner, as a culprit for causing back breakouts, too.
“Every time you shower, I suggest using a powerful antibacterial cleanser that contains salicylic acid to deep-clean the skin, remove oils, and reduce acne-causing bacteria,” Rouleau says. “If you do get back breakouts, after rinsing out your hair conditioner in the shower, try putting your hair up in a clip before using your shower gel to wash your back. Additionally, if you experience bacne, use an antibacterial cleanser and exfoliate the area with a gentle loofah or exfoliating cloth. You can also apply a spot treatment to quickly clear up blemishes.”
You might feel like your eczema rears its ugly, scaly head more during the summer months, but it might be because your skin is more exposed. “In my experience, I personally see eczema the least often in the summer,” Rouleau says. “Eczema is often stress-related and in theory, there should be less stress in the summer. Also, it tends to flare up when the air is drier, like during the winter months.”
To repair eczema, Rouleau suggests using moisturizer with ingredients like borage oil, bois de rose oil, carrot oil, evening primrose oil, cermides, squalane, soybean oil, safflower oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, canola oil, and tocopheryl linoleate. For an instant fix, she suggests applying a thin coat of 1% OTC cortisone cream over your irritated skin.
#6: Heat Rash
“The heat from the sun can cause skin rashes due to the increase of the skin temperature, [which allows] moisture to evaporate and damages the skin barrier,” Rouleau explains.
To soothe a heat rash, it’s all about hydration and cooling. “The best way to do this is to use a gel-based mask with anti-inflammatory ingredients, like chamomile, bisabolol, and oat kernel extract,” Rouleau says. “Put the mask in the freeze for 20 minutes before you use it so that when it’s applied, it provides extra cooling relief.” She says that the high water content found in gel masks will instantly repair and restore the hydration levels in your skin so redness dissipates. We like Make Succulent Skin Gel ($25) and Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask ($52).
This one’s easy—UVA and UVB rays from the sun can damage your skin and leave it inflamed, dry, and even blistered.
Prevention first: Always, always apply SPF before heading outside. If you do find yourself burned, Rouleau says to immediately drink cold ice water to keep your body temperature down and internally hydrate. Then, apply a lightweight lotion with antioxidants. “Because sunburn is the ultimate sign of free radical–induced inflammation and skin damage, it may help to lessen the damage that is occurring deep within the skin and encourage repair,” Rouleau says.
Click here for our ultimate DIY sunburn soother.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.