The Independent Pharmacy

How Summer Affects Your Skin And What You Can Do About It

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 24 May 2023

Your skin can suffer with every seasonal change, and what was once your ‘perfect’ skincare routine for winter, might not work for you in the warmer months.

Increasing humidity levels cause increased sebum secretion and sweat, which can block pores, trap debris and dead skin cells, and make your skin oilier, leading to breakouts and flare-ups, even if you don’t usually suffer from them.

Higher levels of pollen and allergens in the environment can also cause skin irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin or pre-existing conditions such as eczema, rosacea and atopic dermatitis.

Excessive sweating from the heat can also cause bacterial development, creating an odour and rashes in sensitive areas.

It can take time for your skin to adjust to environmental changes, so by mid-summer, your skin should hopefully be more accustomed to the sun, heat and humidity.

However, we do have some tips to help your skin through summer.

Change your skincare routine

For all skincare products look for the non-comedogenic labels so that they won’t block your pores.


Choose the right type of cleanser for your skin; foam is great for oily skin, gel is good for oily or combination skin, and cream cleansers are ideal for dry and sensitive, or ageing skin. Whichever type you use, your cleanser should be gentle, fragrance and irritant free, and not leave your skin feeling tight or dry after cleansing.

Daily cleansing should be the first step in your skincare routine, it gets rid of the day's dirt, sweat and makeup and helps to unblock pores, allowing it to breathe, repair and renew itself. It will also give you a clean surface ready for your other products to penetrate deeper and perform more efficiently.

Look for added niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, or ceramides which will help to prevent your skin from drying out.


For a deeper clean look to introduce AHAs and BHAs, both are exfoliants but work in slightly different ways.

• AHAs, the most common of which are glycolic acid and lactic acid, target the surface of the skin, by reducing the concentration of calcium ions in the skin and promoting the shedding of skin cells at the surface.

• BHAs, such as salicylic acid, target deeper in the skin, acting as a skin-peeling agent, to remove build-up, and unclog pores. Additionally, due to salicylic acid’s antibacterial properties, it is commonly used for skin conditions such as acne.

If you’re new to any AHAs or BHAs first do a patch test on a small area of your skin, then introduce them gradually into your routine every other day or even once every 3 days, increasing to daily use slowly. If you experience any redness or irritation reduce the amount you're using them.

It’s also important to know that AHAs are particularly aggressive and irritating, and significantly increase your risk of sun exposure, so it’s essential to only use them in the evening and wear SPF the next day.


Oily, greasy skin doesn’t mean it’s hydrated, so you still need to use a moisturiser in the summer. Switch to a lightweight, oil-control moisturiser, many of which are gel-based, that will nourish your skin in a light, refreshing way.

Apply your moisturiser while your skin is still damp as it will help lock in hydration and leave your skin feeling more smooth and hydrated all day.

Also, look for ones that contain glycerine, hyaluronic acid or Sodium PCA for hydration, and antioxidants to help protect your skin from environmental stressors.

Vitamin C

Is a good preventative for hyperpigmentation caused by exposure to the sun – add a Vitamin C serum to your face after cleansing and before moisturising.

Shop cleansers and moisturisers
Shop cleansers and moisturisers
View Treatments

Avoid heavy makeup

If you wear foundation, it’s best to try to reduce the amount you wear (you can add a drop of your moisturiser to it to lighten it) or better still, swap to a lightweight one that is oil-free, to help your skin still breathe and reduce the amount of oil and dirt trapped on your face causing blocked pores.

Avoid hot baths and over-showering

The warm weather can encourage us to shower more often, however, this can lead to dry skin causing inflammation and flare-ups of eczema. Try to minimise how much you shower, reduce the water temperature of baths or showers, use a hydrating body wash containing natural oils, shea butter, or vitamin E, and remember to moisturise afterwards.

Be aware of what’s in your shampoo and conditioner

Skin on different areas of the body can often react differently to chemicals, and whilst your scalp may not be sensitive, when you’re washing your hair residue product is likely to reach your face and body, especially if you’re showering.

So, something that can give you luxuriously silky locks, could in fact be causing skin irritation elsewhere.

A sulphate and paraben-free shampoo and conditioner is a great start and won’t strip your hair of natural oils. Other potential allergens to look out for are; propylene glycol, formaldehyde, dimethicone, retinyl palmitate, alcohol, and synthetic fragrances and colours.

Apply sunscreen

Sunscreen should be part of your routine whether it’s winter or summer, as the sun’s UV rays will still penetrate your skin, however, it becomes even more essential in the summer, when the sun’s intensity is stronger and you’re more likely to spend prolonged periods outside.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of the amount of protection from UVB rays, which is what causes sunburn, damages the skin and can contribute to skin cancer.

The star rating measures the amount of UVA protection, the higher the star rating the better.

Ideally, you want a sunscreen that offers protection for both, and a minimum of SPF30.

Apply liberally to all exposed skin at least 30 minutes before going outside, and every 2 hours if you’re out all day as the sun will dry it out.

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water isn’t just good for your kidneys and bodily functions, it also helps regulate body temperature, especially if you’re sweating on a hot day, and is great for keeping your skin hydrated, helping with skin disorders and even premature wrinkling.

Keeping hydrated allows the skin to maintain healthy skin cell rejuvenation and collagen production, which can aid in healing and the reduction of inflammation, along with removing toxins and bacteria on the skin reducing the potential for pore-clogging in the process.


Exercise not only benefits our overall health but also has a positive impact on our skin. Regular physical activity can contribute to a brighter and healthier complexion, thanks to the increased oxygen and blood flow it provides.

When we exercise, our heart rate increases, leading to improved circulation throughout the body, including the skin. This enhanced blood flow helps deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to the skin cells, promoting a radiant and youthful appearance.

Furthermore, exercise promotes the production of collagen, a protein that gives our skin its elasticity and firmness. As we age, collagen production naturally decreases, leading to sagging and wrinkles. However, regular exercise can help stimulate collagen synthesis, helping to maintain a more youthful appearance.

Exercise also aids in detoxification by stimulating sweat production. Sweating helps unclog pores and flush out toxins from the skin, reducing the likelihood of breakouts and blemishes.

In addition to these physical benefits for the skin, exercise also has positive effects on mental well-being. It reduces stress levels and promotes better sleep patterns - both of which contribute to healthier-looking skin.

Buy skin medications from The Independent Pharmacy

For a range of other skin medications, visit our eczema and dermatitis, psoriasis, dry skin, or skin infection treatment pages, where you’ll also find a collection of useful guides.

Need something else?

We stock 1044 treatments for 90 conditions

Or browse all treatments or conditions

A customer at the pharmacist looking for medication