Oily Skin? Try This Elevated Summer Skin Care Routine.

by | Updated: July 21st, 2022 | Read time: 5 minutes

Summer’s hot and humid weather can make skin oily and flushed, and it’s even worse for those who already have oily, acne-prone skin to begin with.

“With higher humidity levels, the sebaceous glands go into hyperdrive, making more sebum,” says Dr. Nadir Qazi, DO, a board-certified physician, cosmetic dermatology surgeon, and owner of Qazi Cosmetic Clinic located in Irvine, California.

“Sebum is a waxy lipid that our bodies produce to coat the skin and protect it, and too much sebum can make your skin oily,” Dr. Qazi says. It’s not all bad, though, and there is some benefit to sebum. Sebum acts as a natural barrier to the sun, and it absorbs UV radiation, which helps reduce how much UV radiation we absorb due to sun exposure and the damage to skin that they may cause.

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Why summer can be difficult for oily skin types

Despite sebum’s benefits (in moderation, of course), summer for oily skin, in relation to sebum production, can be terrible, as the body ramps up production of sebum and creates excess, which unfortunately can result in acne, unless well managed through the use of topicals and healthy hygiene habits.

A number-one priority is to create a skin care routine in summer for oily skin to combat sebum buildup’s side effects and to effectively treat and prevent breakouts.

“As your body creates more sebum, you have an increased likelihood that there will be some dirt and dead skin trapped under it, and impurities in pores, dirt, dead skin, or even sweat and sunscreen can lead to irritation and acne,” Dr. Qazi says.

When you sweat, moisture generally evaporates into the air, thus leaving your skin. However, on a sticky day, when the air is already saturated with water, moisture sits on your skin, heating your body and causing more sweat to perspire. What’s more, sweat also increases sebum production! So, it’s a double whammy for those with oily skin—ugh, we know.

When the body produces sebum, it further insulates skin and acts as a seal for protection. If you’re sweating under that lipid layer, sweat’s salt and dirt contents become trapped, too.

Your best method for fighting sweat and sebum is to create a skin care regimen that targets skin care in summer for oily skin types to offer the best protection possible. And consistency is key, so stick with it daily.

How to create a summer skin care routine for oily skin

Here’s a guide to building a skin care regimen that suits oily skin and fights excess sweat, sebum, dirt and debris and other kinds of bacteria that can get trapped in the skin and clog pores during summer’s hot, humid months.

Applying skin care products both in the morning and at night is best, and perhaps a touch-up, as needed, throughout the day, if advised by a dermatologist and applicable for targeting your specific oily skin needs.

It’s worth noting that if you’re dealing with acne breakouts or have cyclic, hormonal acne, you may need to include a salicylic spot treatment serum, in addition to a salicylic acid cleanser or moisturizer, as well as a dark spot corrector to prevent scarring and hyperpigmentation issues.

Apart from skin care, drinking lots of water naturally detoxes skin to remove pore-clogging debris and dead skin cells, to help lessen acne flare-ups. Here’s an outline for skin care in summer for oily skin.

Your morning routine:

  1. Cleanser (with salicylic acid as an ingredient, if skin is acne-prone)
  2. Toner
  3. Lightweight, oil-free moisturizer (with salicylic acid, if skin is acne-prone)
  4. Lightweight SPF face cream (can be combined with the moisturizer, if preferred)

Upon waking, clean your face to wipe away sweat and to moisten dehydrated skin. Wash skin with a mild, oil-free lightweight cleanser that’s free of skin irritants and is natural. “If your skin is irritated, you will produce even more sebum than normal, so avoid fragrances and alcohol in your cleansers,” Dr. Qazi says.

If you have acne issues, you may benefit from getting a cleanser with salicylic acid, as it’s an acne-fighting active ingredient that targets sebum and clears clogged pores to treat and prevent breakouts. Salicylic acid helps remove dead skin cells and dirt, buried deep within skin’s pores, and cleansing daily will best promote skin maintenance in the summer.

Follow your cleanser with a natural toner, such as one with rose water, which will have a soothing, calming effect on sensitive, irritated skin. In general, toner brightens and rebalances skin, and choosing a toner that contains probiotics can also be quite beneficial, as well as with antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E.

“In the mornings, use it to start your day with your skin feeling fresh, and in the evenings, use it to soothe the stress of the day,” Dr. Qazi says. Follow up with a light moisturizer in the morning, before putting on SPF and makeup (if needed) and heading out the door. You can also apply moisturizer with SPF built in, which will save you a step. Just a little bit will do the trick.

Dr. Qazi recommends jojoba oil as a moisturizer, since it resembles the serum that your skin naturally produces, so your body thinks it belongs there and responds well. It’s also lightweight, and you don’t need much (just a couple of drops), which you can gently pat onto skin with a clean cotton pad.

If you go with a high SPF moisturizer, then you’re set and ready to apply makeup. However, if you use jojoba oil or moisturizer without it, then apply a high SPF sunscreen, as a last step. Make sure to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, too, since it’ll wear off as time passes and you don’t want to risk sun damage.

Your evening routine:

  1. Cleanser
  2. Moisturizer
  3. Hyaluronic acid serum

At night, remove makeup and wash your face with cleanser or micellar water, which is gentle and removes makeup easily, without causing irritation. A lightweight moisturizer containing retinol fights anti-aging and decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as cystic acne.

Apply a thin layer to let your skin rejuvenate overnight, and follow up with hyaluronic serum, which counteracts retinol’s drying effect on the skin and helps to lock in moisture. Apply all over the face and neck to keep skin hydrated, as well as under the eyes, to minimize dark, puffy circles and brighten skin’s appearance for when you wake up.

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