Acne Skin Care for the Summertime

Summer is a beautiful time of year. The weather is warm and the days are long, but the season can also bring oily skin, blackheads, and increased breakouts.

Why? Heat can bring on sweating, increased oil production, and clogged pores All of these can make acne worse. But just a few changes in your skincare routine can help control those breakouts all summer long.


Use a Foaming Cleanser

woman using Foaming cleanser

Scott Kleinman / Photodisc

Heat and humidity can cause oil glands to work overtime. Although you can't stop your oil glands from producing oil, there are things you can to control excess oil. 

The most basic step is to cleanse your face with a foaming cleanser twice daily. If your skin gets exceptionally oily or sweaty, you can add a third cleansing.

But don't get into the habit of washing your face too often. Cleansing too often can break down the skin's protective barrier, causing excessive dryness and irritation, and ultimately worsen breakouts.


Grab an Astringent

During the dog days of summer, you might also add an astringent to your skincare regimen, even if you typically don't use these products.  Astringents are a great way to remove excess oil from the skin's surface, and leave your skin looking matte. 

The brand name isn't important, just use a product that you like and feels good on your skin. You can even use good old, inexpensive witch hazel (my personal favorite).

And here's a tip: fill a small spritz bottle with witch hazel, and toss it into your purse, backpack, etc.  Whenever your skin is feeling greasy, lightly mist over your face (you can even do this over makeup.)  It's an easy way to freshen your skin on the go.

Whatever product you choose, it should leave your skin feeling good.  If it burns or stings when you apply it, try another brand or ditch the astringent altogether.


Lighten Up Your Moisturizer

If you had been using more emollient during the cooler months, summer is an ideal time to lighten up on your moisturizer. You most likely won't need as heavy a moisturizer during the summertime to keep acne-treatment dryness at bay.

Pick one labeled noncomedogenic and oil-free to avoid that heavy, greasy feel.


Use a Good Sunscreen Daily

Many acne medications (like Retin-A and BenzaClin) make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so regular use of a sunscreen is a must. No one wants a bad burn or sun-damaged skin.

Besides, tanning isn't healthy for your skin. Tanning causes sun damage and premature aging and puts you at risk for skin cancer.

Choose a noncomedogenic, oil-free sunscreen of at least SPF 15; SPF 30 is even better.

You may even want to try a tinted sunscreen, which gives you nice coverage without needing additional foundation makeup. They're a good choice for men and teen boys who would like to tone down acne-related redness.


Shower After You Sweat

Sweat can irritate acne. So you'll want to hit the shower immediately after working out, or anytime you've been sweating.

While you're in there, use a body wash or bar that fights breakouts. One with salicylic acid is good if you're prone to blackheads; benzoyl peroxide is better for inflamed pimples.

During periods of heat and humidity, you may be more prone to a form of acne called acne mechanica. Acne mechanica develops when the skin is subjected to excess heat, as well as friction or rubbing of clothes, athletic equipment, etc. Wearing breathable cotton instead of synthetic fabrics can help.

No matter the season, if you need help getting acne under control, call a dermatologist. You'll be glad you did.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Narang I, Sardana K, Bajpai R, Garg VK. Seasonal aggravation of acne in summers and the effect of temperature and humidity in a study in a tropical settingJournal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2019;18(4):1098-1104. doi.10.1111/jocd.12777

  2. 10 skin care habits that can worsen acne. American Academy of Dermatology Association.

  3. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The Risks of Tanning.

  4. Emer J, Sivek R, Marciniak B. Sports Dermatology: Part 1 of 2 Traumatic or Mechanical Injuries, Inflammatory Conditions, and Exacerbations of Pre-existing ConditionsJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2015;8(4):31-43.

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.