Picture this: The sun is beating down on you. It's 95 degrees out (read: 105 degrees for you brave souls facing the scorching underworld known as the New York City Subway). You are a hot, sweaty mess — the makeup is literally melting off your face. You finally make it to your air-conditioned home, only to discover a lovely zit waiting to greet you in the bathroom mirror.
Walking on sunshine? We think not.
At a recent launch party for acne medicine Aczone 7.5%, we chatted with Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Mount Sinai's renowned Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology, for his advice on keeping your skin in tip-top shape during the summer.
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Change up your skincare routine with the seasons
When you're getting ready for spring cleaning, make sure to update your beauty routine while you're at it. Since summer means more heat and humidity, “the cleansers and moisturizers that you’re using in the fall and winter may not be the same ones that’ll be appropriate in the summertime,” says Zeichner. He recommends switching to a lighter moisturizer and heavier cleanser for the warm weather months. And if you’re feeling oily, think about getting a cleanser that foams or contains an exfoliating ingredient like salicylic acid to “get rid of that oil and dirt that may not be coming off with other cleansers.”
Watch your diet
Foods high in sugar and starch (in other words, all the foods we really like to eat) are probably the ones causing skin inflammation and acne, says Zeichner. Some studies also suggest dairy may also be associated with breakouts. “The data’s not quite as strong as the sugar story, but it’s thought that there may be sugars and proteins in milk that promote inflammation.” To keep your skin feeling its best, make sure your diet includes plenty of green leafy vegetables with antioxidants, fresh fish — “particularly salmon with omega-3 fatty acids” — and probiotics.
Slather on that SPF
Sometimes, less is more — but when it comes to sunscreen, "more is more," Zeichner tells us. "Apply, re-apply and choose the highest numbers." If your moisturizer doesn't have a built-in SPF, you'll need SPF over it (Zeichner recommends at least an SPF 30 for his patients). After applying moisturizer, "you can use a primer or mattifier, and then put a sunscreen over it," he says. "And on top of that, you have your makeup, which often has low levels of SPF in it."
For oil control, fake it 'til you make it
The bad news: Your brain controls your oil glands, so it’s hard to truly decrease oil production. The good news: There are still things you can do to make your skin look less shiny. “You can change your cleanser, you can think about clay masks — they absorb oil — and of course [use] blotting papers,” says Zeichner.
Your pores are here to stay
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can shrink your pores, Zeichner warns. “It’s a myth that cold water will shrink your pores,” he says. “You’re born with your pores looking a certain size. But if you can remove oil, the pores will look less prominent, since there’s oil inside of the pore. All those tips we talked about to reduce oiliness will also help with pores — and pore strips work!”
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