Why The Heat Makes You Feel More Oily + What To Do, From Derms
Come summer, it's like I added another layer to my makeup routine. Read: My forehead and nose look like an oil-slick highlighter that could double as reflective gear. And, yes, being fashionably shiny is all the rage of late, but feeling like you've been dunked midday is not fun.
So why all the oil production come the summer sun and humidity? Well, don't worry: It's a natural part of your skin's function—and you're not alone, either. If it's driving you crazy, however, we have tips to solve it.
Why the heat makes you feel more oily.
Your skin reacts to its elements, be it external or internal. Excessive UV exposure can give you sunburns. Certain food triggers can cause breakouts or inflammatory flare-ups. Stress can make your complexion appear tired and sallow. And your skin can become flakier and more ashy during the winter. See? All these changes to skin are thanks to how it reacts to the world around and in us.
The summer heat and humidity are no different. (In fact, there are several ways our skin changes during the summer.) "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," says board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. "Increased sweat production cools the skin by evaporation, and increased oil production helps to slow the evaporation of sweat to extend the cooling effect."
What to do from derms.
If you are feeling the oil-slick annoyance of humidity, here are some quick changes you can make to your routine. Just remember: Oil is a natural part of your skin function, so please be mindful not to go overboard trying to dry your skin out. By stripping your skin of that natural protective layer, you may end up doing more damage than good—not to mention, it may trigger your skin to produce more oil in the long run. The moral of the story? Just be kind to yourself and your skin.
- Tea tree oil face wash. A very easy swap to make in the summer is to find a more astringent face wash that you can use on the days you need it most. Tea tree oil is a great option, especially if your increased oil and sweat come with breakouts. Tea tree has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory1 properties, making it an impressive and wildly popular treatment for blemishes. In fact, one study found that a 5% tea tree oil gel blend was an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne2. (Find our favorite options here.)
- Use salicylic acid serums or treatments. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that works by breaking down oil. "It is able to penetrate the skin deeper into pores to help remove dead skin cells, fight bacteria, and control excess sebum," says board-certified dermatologist Zenovia Gabriel, M.D. This makes it particularly effective for summertime (additionally, it's a chemical exfoliator that doesn't make your skin photosensitive—another bonus!).
- Switch to a lighter, mattifying cream. Face lotions come in all textures and address all sorts of needs. While a decadent, butter-thick texture may suit you in the winter—we suggest lightening things up for a few months. Look for products with hyaluronic acid, sage extract, squalane, and niacinamide. If you don't know where to turn, try these options.
For those of us that deal with increased oil during the summer months, keeping oil in check is shockingly easy. Just be gentle with your skin so you don't go overboard.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.