Protecting Acne Skin During the Summer Months
We’ve talked a lot about how to support acne skin this year, focusing on reducing acne and inflammation, increasing cellular exfoliation, and supporting wound repair. And while this simple, clinical approach remains key to acne rejuvenation no matter the season, the summer months introduce a few other elements that require special care. Of course, not every client spends extra time in the sun, takes frequent swims in chlorinated water or wears hats or sunglasses on a regular basis. So step one is to have the conversations with your clients to figure out what their summer habits are, if they have plans for sun-intensive activities, and what their history is in terms of breakouts during the summer months. This will help you design the best course of care specific to their skin. With that in mind, here are a few things to be aware of.
Heat, sweat and dryness
With the summer comes the heat and humidity, and thus, sweaty conditions. Now, we know sweat alone does not cause acne, but it can most certainly be a contributing factor if the skin is not properly cleansed. A primary goal in the treatment of acne is to reduce bacteria in the pores, and if the skin is not properly cleansed after a good sweat, it can create a breeding ground for bacteria, which in turn can create more acne. Balance is key though, so do not over cleanse or strip the skin this can dehydrate and irritate further. If your clients are already spending time in the sun, chemically treated pools, or in-and-out of airplanes, they’re already running the risk of over-drying the skin.
No matter the type of skin, sun protection is absolutely imperative, but it’s crucial particularly for acne skin. Advise clients to avoid or reduce sun exposure, if possible, and always wear a broad-based sun protection. Sun not only dries the skin, it can also reduce the skin’s natural defenses. Always remember acne is a wound and so the skin is more vulnerable to the elements which could lead to further damage down the road. There is a myth that the sun improves acne, and at first glance, it certainly appears to. However what is really occurring is a temporary reduction in redness. This is because the sun suppresses the immune system, and in acne, the immune cells are what creates the redness. Simultaneously, melanin is also produced, creating that tanned appearance. So not only is it simply masking the redness, the sun is also decreasing the inflammatory response, which is part of the healing process. In the short term it may look like it’s helping, but the long-term effects are far more damaging. Talk to clients about the importance of reducing their exposure to UV rays, and the use of the right sun protection. They should avoid chemical-based sun screens in favor of mineral-based formulas that use ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Hats and sunglasses are summertime staples, and while they do offer important protection, they can also be irritating to certain acne skins. In some scenarios, these accessories may create friction and constant pressure, which exacerbate certain acne conditions. For these clients, you may want to recommend a more loose-fitting, breathable hat if they do plan to be in the sun. They’ll want to be cognizant of any rubbing or if sweat is accumulating around the band of the hat. If that is the case, you might recommend they carry the all purpose cleansing pads for a quick clean throughout the day. During the summer, you can support clients in the treatment room and at home with ingredients like mandelic acid, L-arginine, and beta green tea to increase their antioxidant support. Keep in mind, peels can be tricky during the summer, particularly if they plan to be in the sun. You want to make sure you have their full buy-in to avoid the sun following a peel. Often, enzymes, AHAs and back bar Vitamin A’s can be a safer alternative during the summer. Clients also love cooling treatments during the hot months, not only does it provide a wonderful sensation, it also helps soothe inflamed skin. For this, you might use chilled masks and ice globes rolled gently over the skin. And last, but not least, don’t forget the mineral-based sun protection.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you see among your clients with acne skin during the summer months?