With a full calendar of rooftop hangouts, BBQs, beach days, outdoor workouts, and more, summer is probably the season you most look forward to. But that also means that there’s no shortage of sweat, pool chemicals, sun, and humidity—resulting in what is best described as a warm weather pimple explosion (a horror film we’d rather not star in).
“Summer can be very harsh on your skin,” says Yen Reis, the skin expert extraordinaire and founder of laser facial hotspot Skin Laundry (which opened a new location in New York City’s Midtown East this summer, and has another landing in Tribeca late-August). “Heat and humidity intensify oil production, which clogs pores with dirt and debris. This often leads to more breakouts during the summer months.” Sounds about right: The streets of New York City, for example, don’t exactly seem to be filled with healthy air—and the proof tends to show up on your face.
But don’t let a little skin emergency send you back inside, missing out on summer fun for the sake of a clear complexion. We spoke to Reis about how to prevent the pimples from happening—so that you can go makeup-free and show off your glow rather than hide indoors (or under layer upon layer of foundation).
Ready to fight the muggy pollution that has a less-than-desired effect on your skin? Try these five expert-approved tips for keeping your face protected from summer breakouts.
1. Tone, tone, tone
“We always recommend a toner for summer. Specifically during the summer, you have lots of dead skin cells that were dried by the sun—and that’s when your pores get clogged,” says Reis. “Tone in the morning and tone every night so you’re removing those dead cells, allowing your new skin to reproduce faster.” She recommends a toner that’s packed with antioxidants, and preferably with aloe vera and witch hazel like this one (which soothe and detoxify, respectively).
2. Use a light SPF moisturizer
Reis advises you to look for a more watery moisturizer with SPF in it, as the thick ones clog your pores. “When it’s too heavy, your pores can’t breathe—and that’s when a lot of problems happen,” she says.
If you’re going to be in the sun, Reis says to reapply every two hours to stay protected.
3. Keep your face clean
“In the summertime, you should really wash your face every morning, afternoon, and evening,” says Reis. “This is because of your sweat, the pollution from the sun, and all the environmental damage happening on your skin—it causes all this dirt buildup.”
She notes that makeup remover wipes work just fine, so throw some in your beach bag and give your skin a refreshing swipe midday to keep it fresh.
4. Pare down your makeup routine
Another big pore-clogging culprit? Foundation, according to Reis. “Try a light tinted moisturizer and maybe an herbal concealer on a brush to cover your problematic areas,” she says. “Blend it in and keep it light.”
She also strongly advises against using all of the contents of your makeup bag (as you may be inclined to do before heading out for the evening). When you’re getting ready, “take that time to use facial wipes and then reapply your moisturizer, use a concealer stick, and perhaps mascara.” The goal is to wear as little on your skin as possible.
5. Don’t over-exfoliate
“Many people assume that you should exfoliate a lot to get rid of the skin cells,” says Reis. Not true—at least, not during the warmer months. “Over-exfoliating in the summer strips everything from your pores. Your sebum then produces more oil to recover, which is the last thing you want in the summer because it’ll make your skin too oily—which is when breakouts happen.”
Reis recommends exfoliating once every week or 10 days—but really, even that isn’t necessary. “A toner is a milder version of that, so if you’re toning on a regular basis you won’t need exfoliating,” she says. Think of it this way: The less time you spend at your sink, the more time you can spend outside.
In the midst of a breakout right now? Here’s how to get rid of a pimple, the Ayurvedic way. You might also want to try one of these nine smoothies that give you glowing skin (and taste delicious).