Summer hasn’t even officially started, but many parts of the country have already seen soaring temperatures and extreme heat. Hot weather is annoying—and potentially dangerous—for many reasons, and one of the irritating parts is what it does to your skin.
Maybe you’ve been blessed with superior pores, but for most people, when it gets warm outside, their skin takes on a natural sheen, thanks to the production of what seems like way too much oil. But why does this happen, and can we do anything about it? Here’s what to know.
Why skin gets especially oily when it’s hot
As you already know, our skin may react to different conditions—like a sunburn from a long day at the beach, or a rash from a food allergy. But even if you’re only outdoors briefly and not out in the sun, it can still change because of the weather.
“During the summer, temperatures and humidity levels rise. These changes stimulate the sweat glands to produce more sweat and the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King told mindbodygreen in an interview. “Increased sweat production cools the skin by evaporation, and increased oil production helps to slow the evaporation of sweat to extend the cooling effect.”
How to deal with excess oil
The first thing to keep in mind is that the oil on your face (and other areas of skin) does serve the important purpose of acting as a protective barrier. So as much as we may want to get rid of all the oil, that’s not a great idea. Keeping our oil present, but in-check is a much better plan. Here are a few ways to do that:
Wash your face (and other skin) regularly, but not too often
Again: don’t go overboard, but make sure that you are actually taking the time to wash your face. Here’s what that entails, according to Medical News Today:
- Wash with a gentle soap and warm water.
- Avoid soaps with fragrances, added moisturizers, or harsh chemicals, which can irritate or dry out the skin, making it respond by creating more sebum.
- Avoid loofahs and rough washcloths, as added friction may stimulate the skin to make more oil.
Use a toner after cleansing
You’ll want to avoid the stinging alcohol-based toners of your adolescence, and instead opt for natural astringents, where the active ingredient is witch hazel or tea tree oil. But, toner isn’t for everyone, so if it’s new to you, do a small patch test first before applying it to your face.
As tempting as it may be to use a towel to give your skin the benefit of one final oil-removing wipe, it’s important to do that gently. “Pulling down on the skin with a towel, or using a rough washcloth, is not advised, as it may stimulate the skin to create more sebum,” according to an article on Medical News Today.