How to Soothe Irritated Summer Skin

Summer is here. It’s time for barbecues, vacations, and unfortunately, sunburns and irritated skin. While skin irritation happens to many of us when the seasons change—it generally feels worse during the summer months. Whether we have acne pop up, red faces, or itchy, dry legs, summer skin is no day at the beach. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to soothe irritated skin and prevent this problem in the first place. Here’s what the experts have to say.

Why Summer Has a Big Impact on Your Skin

There are many reasons why it feels like everything goes haywire with your skin during the summer. “The hot, humid weather can be a challenge for the skin during the summer months. We sweat more, make more oil, and are more active in the summer months,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Garnier spokesperson.

Still, the most common culprit for skin irritation is the sun explains Dr. Kenneth Mark, cosmetic dermatologist. “By definition, a sunburn is sensitive, inflamed, and irritated skin. So in the summer, a sunburn is the most common way skin gets irritated.”

The number one way to prevent irritation is to wear sunscreen. “The absolute most important thing is to make sure you’re wearing sunscreen every day, as well as reapplying every two hours to keep skin glowing and healthy,” says Shani Darden, esthetician and founder of Shani Darden Skincare.

Stick to Your Routine

If you can, stick to your routine, but be gentle with your skin. “If anything it is even more important to cleanse and exfoliate in summer due to sweat and from sunscreen clogging pores,” Mark says.

Choose the Best Cleanser

Zeichner recommends using a foaming cleanser to better remove sweat, dirt, and oil. “However, if the skin is inflamed or irritated, it may be best to stick to a hydrating wash or micellar cleanser instead to prevent further skin irritation.”

Exfoliate, But Don’t Overdo It

Exfoliating is a crucial part of your skincare routine, but it’s important to be mindful of the process, especially when your skin isn’t behaving the way you’d like. “While lathering or salicylic acid-containing washes tend to give a deeper cleanse, they can also cause more irritation,” Zeichner explains.

While we might be tempted to exfoliate off those little flakes or peeling skin (after all, there’s something very satisfying about doing this), Zeichner cautions against it. “Exfoliating an already damaged skin barrier can make matters worse. After moisturizing, if you still see flakes, it is okay to exfoliate.” 

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

It’s crucial to moisturize during the summer, even if your skin isn’t irritated. But if your skin becomes uncomfortable, some additional products may be necessary. Darden tells me, “I always keep a tube of my Hydra Prep Gel in the refrigerator for a calming, hydrating treatment anytime my skin is irritated—which can be great, especially for irritated summer skin. It’s an aloe and hyaluronic acid base to soothe skin along with adding some hydration back into the skin as well.”

Dr. Mark advises applying an ointment such as Aquaphor. “Aquaphor can be incredibly soothing to the skin, especially when the skin is dry.”

Don’t Forget Your Body

With so much going on during the summer, many of us focus exclusively on our faces, but the rest of our skin needs attention too. “After showering, follow up with a deeply hydrating lotion or oil. I generally do not recommend using oils on the face, but a body oil is amazing for deeply hydrating the skin and giving it an amazing glow. I love the Honest Organic Body Oil,” Darden says. “Additionally, make sure you’re wearing sunscreen on your body during the day (along with reapplying) to protect it from the sun

How to Use a Pore Spatula, the Satisfying Way to Get Rid of Blackheads

Spatulas: They’re not just a kitchen tool essential for flipping pancakes. Pore spatulas, also known as ultrasonic skin spatulas, are becoming an increasingly popular skincare device that can help deeply cleanse and exfoliate the skin. But, are they really as good (and safe) as they seem? We asked experts to weigh in, plus share their best tips and tricks for using these tools both safely and effectively.

What is a pore spatula?

“An ultrasonic skin spatula typically has a metal or plastic handle with a flat, spatula-like tip. The tip emits ultrasonic waves, creating high-frequency vibrations that help to loosen and remove impurities, dead skin cells, and excess oil from the skin’s surface,” explains Jenny Fix, a Chicago-based esthetician. Depending on the particular product you choose, it may just have one setting, while others have different modes for cleansing, exfoliating, and even ones that can enhance product application by helping push topicals further into the skin, she says.

Looking for a good pore spatula recommendation? Try Dermaflash Dermapore ($99; amazon.com).

What do pore spatulas do for your skin?

Think of them as an alternate method of exfoliation, both via those ultrasonic waves and the gentle, lateral pressure that’s applied as you glide it across your skin, says Dr. Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. Fix is a fan, noting that this type of exfoliation helps eliminate dead skin cells and clear out congestion, resulting in a smoother, brighter complexion.

Are pore spatulas good for removing blackheads?

In a word, yes, but with a few caveats. “These are good tools for people with oily skin or larger pores,” says Dr. Nazrian. “Our pores are regularly filled with oil, sebum, and dead cells, so removing them with this device is only a temporary fix. They’ll continue to refill with time,” she points out. Fix adds that it’s a good alternative for removing mild to moderate blackheads without having to perform manual extractions (which FYI, are really not a great thing to DIY). All that being said, as with all skincare devices, ensuring you’re using this tool properly is absolutely paramount when it comes to both efficacy and safety.  “The greatest risk comes from user error,” cautions Dr. Nazarian. “Tugging or applying too much pressure can lead to unwanted consequences and tissue damage, but when used correctly and gently, even sensitive skin types can use this device.” To that point…

Who shouldn’t use a pore spatula?

As long as it’s used correctly, most people can use one of these techy tools, with a few notable exceptions. “Avoid it if you have conditions that are exacerbated by physical manipulation, such as acne or rosacea,” Dr. Nazarian warns. “Those with broken capillaries are at risk of aggravating the condition and experiencing increased redness or visible veins,” adds Fix, who suggests anyone who’s already over-exfoliated their skin steer clear, too. It’s also a question mark for pregnant women, she says. “Pregnant individuals check with their doctor, as there’s limited research on the safety of using ultrasonic skin spatulas during pregnancy.”

How to Use a Pore Spatula

Fix recommends applying a gel-based cleanser to clean skin (the gel will help decrease friction) and holding the device at a 45-degree angle, with the tip parallel to and in full contact with your skin. “Start on the lowest setting and glide the spatula gently over the skin in upward or outward motions, avoiding prolonged contact in any one area,” she suggests. You can use it on your entire face, except for the area around and near your upper and lower eyelids; the skin here is simply too delicate and the risk of damaging the tissue too high so just avoid these spots entirely, Dr. Nazarian recommends.

Rinse your face afterwards, and make sure to always—we repeat, always—clean the device itself after each use. Fix suggests wiping it with a damp cloth, then cleaning it with rubbing alcohol to disinfect it before letting it dry completely and storing it. Not only will this ensure it’s hygienic and germ-free, it will also help prolong the lifespan of the spatula itself, she points out.

Is Beard Burn (i.e. Stache Rash) Ruining Your Make-Outs? Here’s How to Prevent It From Happening

If you’ve ever had face-to-face contact with someone who has facial hair,  a makeout session, some close cuddling) you may have walked away with some red, rashy-looking bumps on your face. In other words, you had a case of beard burn. It’s not uncommon, and, to a certain extent, somewhat unavoidable in the above mentioned scenarios—although there are things you can do to minimize the severity, as well as easy tips for treating this irksome irritation when it does pop up. Here, top dermatologists explain more.

What is beard burn?

Technically speaking, beard burn is a type of contact dermatitis, an umbrella term for a variety of different types of skin irritations and reactions. “It occurs when hair, typically facial hair, causes irritation when rubbed against the skin after kissing or any other form of contact,” explains Dr. Jeremy Brauer, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Spectrum Skin and Laser in Purchase, New York. “The friction from stubble or coarse facial hair rubbing against smooth skin causes minor abrasions, leading to irritation, redness, and a burning sensation,” adds Dr. Kautilya Shaurya, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. Beard burn can also show up as red bumps or patches, as well as dryness and irritation, Dr. Brauer notes, adding that it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t the same thing as razor burn. (The latter often manifests with similar symptoms, but occurs when skin is irritated as after shaving.)

Are certain people more likely to get beard burn from kissing?

“Beard burn can affect all skin types and tones, but if the person you had contact with has thicker or coarser hair there’s a higher risk of it happening,” Dr. Shaurya explains. Individuals with sensitive skin are typically more prone to it, due to their skin’s heightened reactivity to external factors, including friction, he adds.  And those with dry skin can also be more susceptible, since the rubbing strips away natural oils from the skin, Dr. Brauer notes.

What can you do to avoid beard burn?

Ask the person with the facial hair to keep it well-groomed and soft by using beard oils and conditioners, Dr. Shaurya suggests. “On the receiving end, using a barrier cream or moisturizer before contact can help,” he adds. Still, even with these precautions, it’s still possible that you may experience it to some extent. To that point…

What are the best ways to heal beard burn?

Dr. Shaurya recommends cleansing the area with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser before applying a cream or lotion that contains skin-soothing ingredients such as chamomile or aloe vera. You can also apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help combat the inflammation and irritation, although if symptoms continue for longer than a week or two, see your dermatologist, notes Dr. Brauer.

Benzoyl Peroxide vs. Salicylic Acid: Which is Right for You?

When it comes to treating acne, chances are you want results and you want them fast. Luckily, the skincare market is flooded with products that promise to clear skin, fight pesky pimples, and reach deep within the pores for quick—and long-lasting—relief. But not all acne fighters are created equally, and when it comes to ingredients, two tend to rise above the rest: benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

Both have been widely heralded as acne-clearing wonder ingredients—and for good reason, their long, documented histories are impressive to say the least. But how exactly each fights acne—and the type of acne they target—are two different stories.

To break down the two powerhouse ingredients and the differences between them, we enlisted the help of New York-based, board-certified dermatologists Carmen Castilla, MD, and Joshua Zeichner, MD. Here’s what you need to know.

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What is benzoyl peroxide?

According to Dr. Castilla, benzoyl peroxide mainly functions as an antibacterial ingredient, though it also has some exfoliating properties that help remove dead skin cells. It targets cutibacterium acne, the bacteria that causes acne, and, unlike with other antibacterial agents, bacteria cannot grow resistant to benzoyl peroxide, making it a popular choice amongst dermatologists and other experts.1

“Benzoyl peroxide is perhaps the most effective ingredient we have in treating red, angry pimples,” Dr. Zeichner explains. “Think of it like a fire extinguisher, putting out inflammation in the skin and lowering levels of acne-causing bacteria.”

Sounds too good to be true? Well, benzoyl peroxide doesn’t come without its risks. Namely, it can be fairly irritating depending on the concentration. And no matter how well-formulated, benzoyl peroxide is notorious for bleaching clothing, towels, and any other fabrics it comes in contact with.1 For this reason, both Dr. Castillas and Dr. Zeichner suggest opting for bright white towels and pillowcases that won’t be affected.

What is salicylic acid?

Meanwhile, salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that chemically exfoliates the skin, helping remove excess oil and dead skin cells from the surface. Per Dr. Castilla, it does this by breaking down the bonds between skin cells and penetrating deep into the pores.2

Whereas benzoyl peroxide is like a fire extinguisher, Dr. Zeichner likens salicylic acid to a pipe cleaner, removing blockages from the pores. It helps loosen and slough off dead skin cells, and dries out mild comedonal acne (think blackheads and whiteheads), but is less effective on inflammatory acne.

Like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid runs the risk of irritation, as well as redness and sun sensitivity.2 So while it’s always important to wear sunscreen (and yes, we’re talking every single day), it’s doubly so when using salicylic acid.

What is the difference between benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid?

The key difference between benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid is how they target acne: Benzoyl peroxide fights acne at the source by killing acne-causing bacteria, while salicylic acid focuses on a cause of acne (clogged pores) rather than the acne itself.

Those differing tactics ultimately yield slightly different results. Benzoyl peroxide effectively targets inflammatory acne like red pimples, pustules, and pesky cysts.3 Meanwhile, salicylic acid fights more mild acne, like blackheads and whiteheads (commonly referred to as comedonal acne), as well as prominent pores and oily skin.4

Both dermatologists say that while the two ingredients function differently, they’re actually quite complementary. Dr. Zeichner goes so far as to say he regularly recommends using both ingredients as part of a full acne-treatment regimen.

Dr. Castilla notes that benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are stellar first-line, over-the-counter treatment options for acne. That being said, if you’re not seeing any improvement after a few weeks of use, she suggests visiting a board-certified dermatologist for an evaluation.

While the ingredients work together well, experts suggest doing so with caution—remember both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid run the risk of dryness and irritation.

Best Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide Products to Use

Benzoyl Peroxide

JORI Daily Leave-On Acne Treatment Mask

This ultralight water-gel uses an advanced form of micronized, 2.5% benzoyl peroxide to penetrate deep into the pores. The formula’s active botanical blend addresses the needs of adult skin as well as factors that contribute to breakouts.

To buy: $52; amazon.com

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Dual Acne Treatment with Benzoyl Peroxide

One of our personal favorites, this formula combines 5.5% benzoyl peroxide with lipo-hydroxy acid to reduce the number and severity of acne blemishes on two fronts. Best of all, it can be used as a full-face or spot treatment depending on your needs.

To buy: $23; ulta.com

PanOxyl Acne Foaming Wash Maximum Strength

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PanOxyl’s 10% benzoyl peroxide acne wash is a favorite among derms for good reason—it seriously works. While the 10% formulation can be a bit too much as an all-over facial cleanser for some people, we like using it as a spot-treatment cleanser on the face (leave it on problem areas for around two to five minutes before washing off) as well as on body acne on areas like the back, chest, and booty (it happens to the best of us).

To buy: $10; target.com

Kate Somerville Anti Bac Acne Clearing Lotion

Another treatment that can be used on both the body and face, Kat Somerville’s Anti Bac Acne Clearing Lotion combines 5% benzoyl peroxide with advanced liposomes to help target problem areas without over-drying the skin.

To buy: $56; sephora.com

Salicylic Acid

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Cleanser

This oil-free cleanser features 2% salicylic acid to help clear whiteheads and blackheads as well as smooth skin texture and sop up excess oil. Plus, the formula is safe for sensitive skin.

To buy: $13; ulta.com

JORI Acne & Oil Control Primer

We love JORI’s double-duty primer: It blurs imperfections and leaves skin with a silky smooth finish while treating breakouts and reducing shine thanks to its 2% salicylic acid formula. It can be used both alone or under makeup.

To buy: $70; amazon.com

Sunday Riley U.F.O Salicylic Acid BHA Acne Treatment Face Oil 

For clearer, smoother skin, try Sunday Riley’s dry U.F.O oil. It clears congested pores, treats and prevents acne, and smooths the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with 1.5% salicylic acid without any of the potentially drying side effects thanks to a nourishing blend of milk thistle and cucumber seed oils.

To buy: $80; sephora.com

Tower 28 Just Added a New Moisturizing Cream to Its Sensitive Skin-Friendly SOS Collection

If you’re a fan of clean beauty, there’s a new product that you need to check out. Tower 28 just launched a new daily moisturizer for sensitive skin: SOS Daily Barrier Recovery Cream. It’s the newest addition to the SOS collection—a simple skincare routine designed to calm irritated skin with gentle yet effective formulas. The collection also includes the fan-favorite SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray and the SOS Intensive Rescue Serum.

The new cream contains four types of hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin, ceramides to strengthen the skin barrier, and allantoin to soothe and reduce irritation. The moisturizer absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy or sticky feel to your skin. Plus, it’s non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores) and alcohol- and fragrance-free.

To buy: $24;

The formula is intended to help repair flare-ups on sensitive skin, but it’s safe to use on all skin types. It’s especially effective for calming skin that’s irritated from other skin or beauty products. The cream reduces redness and improves skin texture, making it ideal for shoppers who suffer from eczema, rosacea, or acne. In fact, the SOS collection has received the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

The SOS collection features hypochlorous acid, a substance that’s naturally found in your skin, which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Shoppers say that the SOS serum “immediately calms” painful breakouts and helps them heal more quickly. One reviewer commented that after using it for one week, the serum significantly reduced the “redness, swelling, and pain” from cystic acne. For super calm and healthy skin, add the water-gel serum and toner spray to your skincare routine along with the new cream.

The SOS Daily Barrier Recovery Cream comes just in time to heal dry, irritated skin from the summer sun. Shop it now from Tower 28 for $24.

Deal Alert! Grab Tatcha’s Editor-Approved, Luxury Skincare Essentials for Less During This Major Sale

As a shopping writer, I have tons of new skincare products that come across my desk at all kinds of price points, from $10 multitasking toners to $100+ miracle moisturizers. While I don’t believe you have to spend an arm and leg to find quality complexion savors, Tatcha is one of those unparalleled brands I have no second guesses about investing in.

The revolutionary brand implements cutting-edge Japanese beauty methods and clinically proven actives into each of its thoughtfully curated formulas that have never failed my ridiculously sensitive skin. The potent line of skincare essentials is often associated with a high (well-deserved) price tag, but today you’re in luck!

This is not a drill: Tatcha is actually discounting its luxury, editor-loved best-sellers during its annual Friends and Family sale. From now until Friday, June 25, you can use   at checkout to save 20 percent sitewide.

To spare you any decision dilemmas, we put together a list of tried and true picks that we swear by. These 10 beauty staples are worth every penny—and they’re even better now that you can snap them up for less. Don’t forget to explore the entire line for other effective skincare recipes.

The Rice Wash

Maybe it’s the gentle amino acid base, softening rice powder, or hydrating hyaluronic acid and Okinawa algae blend, but this cleanser feels like hitting a reset button. This formula delivers a deep clean that doesn’t feel overdrying on my reactive skin.

The Deep Cleanse

I turn to this soothing exfoliator when my skin feels rough yet delicate. The gel cleanser is insured with Japanese wild rose, leopard lily, and luffa fruit to clear away impurities and balance my complexion without leaving my face feeling stripped.

The Dewy Skin Cream

This renowned moisturizing cream is a rich blend of Japanese purple rice, ginseng, wild thyme, sweet marjoram, hyaluronic acid, and the brand’s signature Okinawa algae blend that instantly relieves my parched complexion. I always look radiant after using this overnight.

The Water Cream

When my face is in need of a lighter dose of hydration during the day, this moisturizer does the trick. It feels like a literal burst of water hits your face, but it never looks or feels greasy. The plumping cream is an excellent choice when my combo skin is on the oilier side.

 

The Liquid Silk Canvas

My flawless base usually starts with this blurring and protective makeup primer. The treatment contains Tatcha’s proprietary Hadasei-3 complex, which delivers a healthy-looking glow, and amino- and antioxidant-packed silk extract, which acts like a veil to shield your skin.

 

The Serum Stick

This portable serum stick is my luggage and handbag hero. It Instantly targets dryness with squalane and fights fine lines while minimizing UV damage with Japanese lemon balm. The best part: you can use this over your makeup to help refresh your look.

Luminous Dewy Skin Mist

If you find yourself overdoing a matte foundation or skin tint, as I have, you’ll be thankful to have the classic Luminous Dewy Skin Mist on hand. I’ve even used this to help prep my face for full glam looks. I always keep a travel-sized tucked away in my bag for hydration on the go.

The Silk Canvas

While the Liquid Silk Canvas works best for dry and combination skin types, the Silk Canvas balm was crafted with all skin types in mind. You really only need the tiniest bit to blur imperfection and give your makeup some serious staying power.

The Silk Powder

Like the rest of Tatcha’s Silk line, this translucent powder protects your complexion and is infused with Japanese pearl powder that leaves a radiant finish. I definitely have fewer shiny spots in my T-zone when I use this powder.

Hinoki Body Oil

Tatcha’s new body care collection is worth throwing into your rotation—especially when your skin feels bumpy and rough. I mainly focus this on my dry patches, elbows, and knees, which need additional TLC. Its Forest Awakening essential oil blend also lends to its ultra-soothing scent.

We Tried Harry Styles’ Gender-Neutral Beauty Brand—Here’s What We Thought

Since trying Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty line to see what the fuss was about and falling in love with nearly every product, I’ve been on a journey to discover what other celebrity beauty brands live up to the hype. The latest addition to my collection: Pleasing. Launched in November 2021, the gender-neutral beauty brand’s hero product is nail polish, perfectly aligned with the One Direction alum’s love of a good manicure.

But Pleasing offers much more than just nail polish. The brand’s initial launch included a dual-ended rollerball for the eyes and lips and an illuminating daily serum, and it’s since expanded to include even more uniquely packaged beauty formulations. For the ultimate Pleasing experience, I scooped up every product they had to offer, from its highly coveted nail polish to its skincare and body care products. Keep reading for my thoughts on the collection.

6 Must-Try Products of the Summer, According to Our Beauty Director

As temperatures start creeping up, now is the perfect time to make some lighter swaps to your beauty routine. Love lipstick? Try this new lip oil that gives you a pop of color without the weight. Give your full coverage foundation a rest and try this glowy skin tint that covers without clogging instead. Packing for a trip? Pop in this palm-sized razor so you’ll have smooth skin on the go. Now go get ready to feel and look your best all summer long!

Tinted Love

This tint is like leggings for your lips: It’s comfy, it gives full coverage, and it’s wildly dependable. No touch-ups required!

To Buy: Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Tinted Lip Oil, $20 each;

 

Glow Getter

The easiest self-tanner I’ve ever used, this serum isn’t sticky or stinky. Smooth it on, and in eight hours you’ll have a healthy, hydrated glow.

To Buy: St. Tropez Luxe Body Serum, $48; sephora.com

Travel Buddy

Packing for a beach vacay? This compact razor has a mini handle but a regular-size head—with moisture strips!

 

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