5 Beauty Products to Avoid During the Summer

Summer is simultaneously the worst and the best. While weekends are chock-full of rooftop parties, barbecues and plenty of swimwear (because you deserve to show off that rockin’ bod!), there’s also that whole, you know, suffocating heat and humidity thing.

Of course, there are those girls who seem virtually unaffected by sweltering temps and dewy air, looking as fresh, crisp and put-together as ever. But for the vast majority of us, time spent commuting to and from work or having dinner with friends is consumed by continuous face blotting, self-fanning and attempting to move as little as possible.  

While you can’t escape the dog days of summer, they can be slightly more bearable if you’re wearing the right beauty products. With help from cosmetic dermatologist Shilpa Agarwal, we identified five creams, makeup products and cleansers capable of wreaking the most havoc on your skin from now until mid-September—and what to replace them with.  

Heavy moisturizers

While moisturizing should really be a year-round daily activity, according to Agarwal, you should swap out your bottles when the seasons change.

“Many cold-weather face moisturizers contain humectants, which help the skin retain moisture better,” she explains. “However, these ingredients can make your skin feel greasy in warm weather and even clog your pores.”

As a replacement, Agarwal suggests a gel or lightweight serum to give you skin a dewy, more hydrated look. Her favorites (if you’re okay with splurging on your skin): Skinceuticals HA Intensifier serum or Tatcha Pore Perfecting Water Gel moisturizer.

Greasy sunscreen

Like moisturizing, slathering yourself with SPF should be as second-nature as brushing your teeth—no matter the season. But it helps to know what ingredients to look for when you’re buying sunscreen.

“Some sunscreens can feel particularly heavy,” Agarwal says. “Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are classic ingredients that will give you that dreaded white cast on the skin. Fortunately, however, those ingredients are now being re-formulated into more mattifying versions ideal for oily skin types.” Her grease-free recommendations? La Roche Posay Antehelios Clear Skin SPF 60 and Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46.

Creamy cleansers

While cream cleansers can be an excellent source of moisture for dry or sensitive skin, according to Agarwal, they aren’t necessarily the best option during the summer months.

“High temperatures bring more sweat, dead skin and oil to the surface of our skin, which can mean a dull, sallow complexion,” she explains. “To counteract this, opt for cleansers with glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid. These ingredients can help gently exfoliate your skin and promote new fresh collagen growth.” Her favorite? Neostrata Foaming Glycolic wash.

Face masks (sometimes)

Although they’re an essential component to any relaxing Sunday night skincare routine, face masks (notably sheet masks) can cause you to sprout blemishes quickly if they don’t contain the right ingredients.

“For summer, trade out the masks that are ‘moisturizing’ or promise ‘deep hydration’ with masks that have the words ‘clarifying’ or ‘brightening,’” says Agarwal. “It’s always important to check the ingredients when buying masks, but great summertime ingredients include green tea, lemon and charcoal.”

HD or high-coverage foundation

It’s a slippery slope: You breakout more during the summer, so subsequently, you want to cover those pimples up with a solid foundation and concealer. But according to Agarwal, you’re probably doing your complexion more harm than good in that scenario.

“Ingredients found in thick foundation can clog pores and contribute to summertime breakouts,” she says. “Look for the word ‘non-comedogenic’ in your foundation. This means it has been formulated in a way to avoid clogging our pores.”

In addition, Agarwal suggests steering clear (and looking for) certain ingredients. “Some ingredients in particular to avoid are mineral oil, silicone and petrolatum, all of which can cause buildup within the skin. For the summertime, try to use lightweight BB creams, tinted moisturizers or powder foundation, which can help soak up excess oil.”

But even more critical than what you put on your face, according to Agarwal, is that you take it off. “Removing makeup is key!” she says. “Working out and sleeping with makeup on contribute immensely to dull skin and acne breakouts, so make sure you take the extra few seconds to cleanse your skin.”

Julia Sullivan is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. When she's not picking heavy things up and setting them down again (more commonly known as weight lifting), trying to prepare healthy meals in her doll-sized Manhattan studio or writing about the latest fitness craze, she chronicles her zany adventures as a new New Yorker in her blog, Jules & the City. You can also follow her on Twitter.