Young woman in bathroom looking in to the mirror and applying cream
This Summer Skincare Routine For Acne-Prone Skin Is SO Quick & Easy

by Shannon Stubbs

Creating a skincare routine that works for you is not easy, particularly when you deal with acne. While your ultimate goal is to find products that can treat and heal acne, in that discovery process, you may find it can get worse before it gets better, especially when you cycle through so many different types of products. Needless to say, a skincare routine for acne-prone skin can be a lot of trial and error. (TBH, mostly error for me.)

Of course, it also doesn’t help that whenever a new season rolls around, you may have to overhaul the entire routine you thought you finally perfected to work with the change in temperature. In the colder months, that can mean adding in a thicker moisturizer to protect your skin from winter's dryness and wind, and in the summer, that means losing some of those hydrating products that you accumulated during the cold.

If you have acne-prone skin and you’re not sure how to adjust your skincare routine when a heat wave comes through, I’ve got your back. I consulted a dermatologist to settle on some of the best types of skincare products to use if you deal with acne — and even better, they’ll cut your routine down significantly.

Niacinamide Serum

By now, you've probably racked up a ton of serums in your beauty cabinet — and for good reason. They’re packed with active ingredients and antioxidants that target many specific skin concerns. An acne-friendly ingredient to infuse into your routine is niacinamide, which is a vitamin with multiple benefits: It can soothe and reduce blemishes, shrink pores, and promote a bright and even skintone. According to dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at The Mount Sinai Hospital, niacinamide is a beneficial ingredient because it has “calming, brightening, and skin-strengthening properties” and is also an “ideal ingredient for summer to help prevent and treat sun-related dark spots.” Using a niacinamide serum is particularly great for summer (or any time for that matter) because it’s multifunctional and can replace several other products you were likely using to accomplish the same goal. It’s also lightweight and doesn’t feel too thick on your face.

Gel Moisturizer

If you thought you could forego moisturizer in the summer because so much humidity is in the air, you thought absolutely wrong. From your AC constantly blasting on high to that impending sunburn you'll get from spending too long at the beach, acne-prone skin can lose necessary hydration. Now, I know that slathering on a heavy face cream sounds like the last thing you want to put on your face that’s been covered in sweat since May, but there’s another lightweight option: a water-based gel moisturizer. “The creams you use in the winter may weigh the skin down or leave you feeling heavy or greasy in the summer,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Gel moisturizers are ideal in the summertime because of their light consistency.” Many formulas also come oil-free and won't clog your pores, so you’ll be shine-free all summer.


If you still haven't incorporated a daily sunscreen into your routine, I am honestly amazed. How you have been able to elude the constant sunscreen-based propaganda is truly beyond me… but that ends today. You absolutely need to wear sunscreen, especially if you have acne. “Many of the acne medications you may be using can make you sensitive to the sun and increase your risk of sunburn,” says Dr. Zeichner. There are many, many SPF formulas on the market, but Dr. Zeichner says the one you choose should be based on your personal preference and what you know works well for your skin. “No matter what formula you try, look for sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and labeled as broad-spectrum,” he says, referring to sunscreens that protect from both UVA and UVB rays. “In order to get the level of protection labeled on the bottle, you need to apply about a quarter-sized [dot] for the full face.” In the summer, try a water-based gel or stick-formula sunscreen, if a regular white cream is too heavy for you.

Face Mist

While your favorite summer activities might be going to the beach or lying out for hours in your neighborhood park, the one thing I look forward to the most is being able to spritz my face with a cooling mist on a scorching, 90 degree day. That may sound weird to you, but you won't know how life-changing it is until you’ve tried it. Not only do they moisturize and refresh your skin (and entire state of being IMO), but there are many cooling mists on the market that are supercharged with acne-friendly and skin-soothing ingredients. “Face mists help calm and soothe skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Many are made of thermal spring water with anti-inflammatory minerals, like selenium." Ingredients that reduce the size of blemishes and the pain associated with them and feel refreshing when your face is seconds from melting off? Count me in.