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The solutions to all your summer skin problems

Sun, sand and...shaving bumps? We've got the answer to spots, sensitivity and so much more.

It's officially shorts and swimsuit szn—and we're v. ready for loungey beach days and starry bonfire nights. But all that sunshine, shaving and, yep, even sweat can wreak some serious havoc on your skin. That's why we consulted the experts about your summer-specific dermis disasters. What we learned, right this way...

Razor burn

Sitch: An early-morning jog sounded like a stellar idea...until your freshly shaved armpits start stinging. Yeouch.

Solved: When you're reaching for your razor more frequently (thanks, tank tops), it's not uncommon to experience irritation. Dermatologist Dr. Anar Mikailov recommends waiting until the very end of your shower to shave, so your hair has time to soften. Pop in a fresh cartridge (yep, every time), lather up with a rich shaving cream (like Truly Happy Hairless Shave Butter, $22, ulta.com) and use light, singular strokes in the same direction the hair grows. Right after you've dried off, apply an unscented moisturizer to any just-shaved spots (even your armpits and bikini line) to nip dryness and sensitivity in the bud.

Morphing moles

Sitch: You're rinsing off after a long day at the beach, and a freckle on your stomach suddenly looks a little darker than you remembered. That's not skin cancer...right?

Solved: Take a deep breath: The majority of moles are harmless and a natural part of your skin, says Dr. Elena Hawryluk, member of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology. Some moles become more noticeable after sun exposure because UV rays stimulate the production of the skin pigment melanin. That being said, if you notice a spot that really stands out from the others (or has suddenly changed in size or shape), make an appointment with your doc. "It's important to have a mole checked if it's black, bleeding, hurting or behaving differently than your other moles," Dr. Hawryluk notes. Skin cancer is rare among teens, but it's better to be safe. Speaking of that, here's the hundredth (millionth) reminder about the best way to prevent skin damage: sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen (we like Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinimide Sunscreen SPF 50, $34, sephora.com).

Bug bites

Sitch: Your cousin's backyard BBQ last night was a blast—but you wake up in the a.m. to puffy, itchy splotches on your arms. Gah!

Solved: As annoying as these spots are, try not to scratch them—that can cause bleeding and scarring (hard pass). Instead, apply an ice pack to reduce any inflammation and cover the bite with a thin layer of hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. For some all-natural relief, ingredients like eucalyptus and avocado oil can help hydrate and soothe your skin (try Kinfield Relief Balm, $14, kinfield.com).

Chicken skin

Sitch: You pull on your first pair of shorts for the season and notice small, reddish spots dotting your legs. Yikes, what are they? Razor bumps? Ingrown hairs?

Solved: It's most likely keratosis pilaris, a harmless skin disorder characterized by rough bumps on your thighs and arms. The condition is caused by malfunctioning oil glands in your skin, which plug hair follicles and lead to redness and irritation. The bumps can get worse when your skin is dry, so use KP Away Keratosis Pilaris Lipid Repair Emollient ($41, kpaway.com) to nourish your natural moisture barrier.

Sunburn

Sitch: Epic pool day! Except you forgot to reapply your sunscreen after taking a dunk—and now you're a lobster.

Solved: Let's state the obvious: "The safest way to deal with sunburns is to prevent them with susncreen," says Dr. Hawryluk. But if the damage is done (it happens), soothing ingredients like aloe vera and menthol can provide relief and minimize itchiness (we heart Bondi Sands Aloe Vera After Sun Gel, $9, bondisands.com). You can even store gels and creams in the fridge for extra cooling power. Ahh...

But wait, what about acne?

Sigh. It's not summer without a bothersome breakout (or 10). Have no fear: We found the clear-skin solution for every area of your bod.

For back acne: Dermatologist Dr. Charles Puza recommends adding a medicated scrub to your shower routine. "Try benzoyl peroxide, which kills acne-causing bacteria," he says. Lather up with Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Exfoliating Scrub ($8, target.com).

For chest acne: "Treat chestne similarly to how you would treat facial acne," says dermatologist Dr. Zenovia Gabriel, "with ingredients like glycolic acid and salicylic acid." Our fave fix? Swipe a Dr. Zenovia Skincare 10% Glycolic Acne Control Peel Pad ($42, drzenovia.com) over your chest a few times per week.

For butt acne: Minimize trapped sweat and dirt by getting out of sweaty shorts soonest, then use an acne-fighting shower gel like Curology Acne Body Wash ($12, curology.com) to help ward off blemishes.

Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our June/July 2022 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.

Looking for more skincare advice? We got you. Check out these posts:
☀️ We found the best sunscreen for every skin type
☀️ Your ultimate guide to glowy summer skin
☀️ Skinimalism: Your ultimate guide to the no-makeup makeup look

Top and slider image: Ben Scott on Unsplash
All GIFs via Giphy

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by Kathleen O'Neill | 7/2/2022
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