Heat is the harsh centrepiece of our culture. Everything we do for fun happens because it’s hot.
How do we relax with friends on an easy Sunday? Head for the beach, laze around a pub with a jug of something cool, hunt each other using assault rifles filled with water. Most days we just get under an air conditioner and take it easy.
And what the body wants, the skin wants. When the heat rises, so does your risk of a few different issues:
On hot days, the amount of sebum (skin oil) on your skin doubles. This is the root of many skin problems. When sebum gets into your pores, it usually turns into pimples.
Too much sebum can crank up any acne problem you already have. And it’s a squeamish feeling. Deep down, we seem to know that oily skin means the bacteria are eating well.
It’s best not to think of oiliness too much. The amount you produce comes largely from genes, and stress causes your sebaceous glands to make too much oil. So let go of the issue and trust yourself to take care of your skin.
One easy way is cleansing, which can be as easy as washing your face or as intricate as a full treatment with serum, moisturiser, a SkinB5 Five Minute Skin Purifying Mask and non-comedogenic makeup. Sunscreen helps and so does Vitamin A, so hit up the sweet potato and see if you can learn to love liver paté.
Sweat and sebum are housemates. Where we create oil to keep the skin healthy, sweat comes out the pores to regulate your temperature so that you can keep up important movements over a long time.
Humans are designed to sweat so we can spend all day chasing wild animals, but now we use it to sustain fun things like exercise and long walks. But it breeds bacteria if you don’t regularly cleanse. So if you want to stay clear, wash off the sweat with something cool.
You may know that tight garments are more likely to rub against you and create acne than loose ones. This is doubly true for buttne. When the sun’s out and we’re getting physical, it tends to be with tight things like fancy activewear, bike helmets or backpacks. And you’ll notice how quick these areas get sweaty.
The good news is that medium fitting clothes are always in style, so if your activewear looks perfect on you, it’s not as acne-risky as lycra. And baggy clothes never look stupid when you’re active, they actually give you an air of authority. Personal trainers go baggy.
If you need to wear something tight, you’ve probably noticed a pattern in our advice here. Cleanse regularly. Have showers, take a dip in salt water, try some SkinB5 Acne Control Moisturiser on the irritated area.
Keeping your cool
There are obvious ways to cool down, and most of them fit really neat into a cleanse. But there’s one thing that takes practice and will improve every area of your life:
Summer is the perfect time to get mad. Everyone’s out blocking your path. The sun and the double dose of water your body needs are straight up disorienting. If you have skin problems, you have to gear up your hygiene like never before. If you’ve been hitting the gym you have extra testosterone to fuel all that fire.
And stress causes breakouts.
It’s not about never being mad. I love pragmatic anger. But if you lose control of that mood, you lose control of the cortisol that ends up (via sebum overproduction) as acne.
The Internet is full of ways to keep cool emotionally, but here are some favourites:
Check yourself when you get emotional. Notice it happening. This will help control your mood.
Breathe deeper and slower, comfortably.
Be happy about something happening right now. There’s always something.
If you’re self-conscious, remember no one cares how you look. They’re too busy being self-conscious.
And for skincare’s sake, here are some simple ways to keep from overheating:
Cleanse with chilled or frozen watermelon skin. Just rub the white side on your face.
Cleanse with cucumber or aloe vera.
Use ice blocks in your water bottle.
Always use sunscreen, even with a big breezy hat.
Choose hang-out spots with shade.
It’s all about keeping your cool.
Peter Matthews is a freelance writer living in Melbourne. He keeps cool by meditating every day, which is also great for regulating the skin’s hormones.