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9 Summer Beauty Problems Nobody Talks About — and How to Solve Them

From mysterious burns to boob sweat.
Photo: @kourtneykardash/Instagram

Photo: @kourtneykardash/Instagram

Beachy hair, bronzed skin, a dewy, fresh glow - so many of our favorite beauty looks are practically synonymous with summer. Which is why it sucks so much that the season when we're suppose to be looking and feeling our most flauntable also comes with so many stealth beauty struggles. From mysterious burns to boob sweat, these are the summer beauty woes that we all like to pretend we don't have — and what to do about them. Your summer beauty routine just got a lot more effective.

Margarita Dermatitis 

The sun is shining, there's a margarita in your hand… and a weird, splattery sunburn that won't seem to go away. Consider this a good news/bad news scenario. The good news? That splotchy redness might not actually be a sunburn. The bad news? It may be a condition known as margarita dermatitis. "The medical term for 'margarita dermatitis' is phytophotodermatitis," explains dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah. "It's a condition that occurs when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation while photosensitizing compounds are on the surface, causing a phototoxic inflammatory reaction." And yes, as you might have guessed from the name, citric acid from your favorite summery drinks is a hard-core photosensitizer.

Of course, as with any skin problem, the best solution is prevention, so to avoid potential irritation, make sure to use plenty of sunscreen and wash your hands thoroughly after squeezing limes or other citrus fruits to avoid giving those UV rays a boost. If you're already looking red, Dr. Shah suggests a topical steroid (like hydrocortisone) for treating the initial inflammation. She adds, "Once the inflammatory phase is over, there is typically residual hyperpigmentation which often fades naturally, but lightening creams can help." Look for versions with time-tested vitamin C (this one is a Fashionista editor fave) to help even out discoloration more rapidly.


No matter your body type, the onset of bare-legs season can also come with the joy of so-called "chub rub," which is about as delightful to experience as its name is to read. (Which is to say, not at all.) Chafing is a by-product of friction — you know, the kind that gets worse in those skin-baring months when sweaty skin catches and pulls against itself wherever it meets (think: upper thighs, calves, the inside of your arms) leaving those contact spots looking and feeling raw. 

There are plenty of DIYs to preventing the dreaded rub, but they all come down to two essential categories: keeping skin dry and creating a barrier to protect it from irritation. Banishing drag-inducing sweat with a body powder helps skin slide seamlessly without that grip and pull is a great option for humid commutes. For more outdoorsy days, a skin-protecting layer of silky balm — Bodyglide has a major following among athletes for its ability to prevent chafing and blisters and Megababe's Thigh Rescue is beloved by at least one Fashionista editor — can provide more staying power and leave skin looking (and feeling) flawless.

Heat Rash 

While you may think of them as related, heat rash and chafing are actually separate issues, both exacerbated by hot, humid weather. Heat rash hits you when your sweat glands become blocked by sweat and oil and the perspiration builds up under the skin, causing redness, and sometimes itchy bumps. 

Though the experience can be unpleasant and annoying, heat rash typically goes away on its own within a day or two. To speed up the process and alleviate discomfort, a cooling treatment like aloe gel can help soothe away the symptoms fast.

Keratosis Pilaris 

Though you may not have known its name, lots of us are familiar with the look and feel of bumpy "chicken skin" that can crop up on the thighs or the backs of our arms. Keratosis pilaris comes about when keratin protein builds up around the hair follicles on the body, and the upper arms and upper legs are particularly susceptible. 

Though the exact cause of the condition remains unknown, there does appear to be a genetic component. It's also especially prominent in people with dry skin, says dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu. Sweating and irritation can make the condition more obvious, which makes the skin-baring seasons prime time for KP anxiety. 

Since the causes are still unclear, unfortunately there's no cure for keratosis pilaris, but battling back keratin buildup can help lessen its appearance. "Exfoliating products like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and retinols can promote faster skin cell turnover and make KP appear smoother while you use the products," says Dr. Chiu. (We like Dermadoctor KP Duty Body Scub, which is specifically formulated to treat keratosis pilaris.) Shah adds that in-office chemical peels and laser treatments can also be helpful for those who don't see results from over-the-counter remedies.

Streaky Self-Tanner 

By now, you know that getting an actual UV-given tan is a big healthy skin no-no (right?). But that doesn't mean that you have to give up on being a golden goddess in the summer. However, getting a flawless faux tan isn't always as easy as it sounds, as anyone who's ever woken up with splotchy next-day legs can attest.

The biggest culprit leading zebra-like self-tanner streaks is dry, dull skin. It tends to soak up the tanning formula unevenly, and dead skin cells slough away at their own pace, leaving some spots on your body noticeably lighter after a shower or two. Luckily, the solution is simple: Before applying self-tanner, take the time to exfoliate with a dry brush, acid-based lotion (we like this body serum), mitt or gentle scrub (like these mess-free sugar scrub cubes). Then, apply a moisturizer and allow it to fully absorb — several minutes at a minimum. Make sure to wipe away any residue that's left with a towel before going in with the self-tanner.

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Still finding uneven spots? You can always turn to a self-tan remover like Tan-Luxe Glyco Water will help even out dark patches on knees, elbows, and anywhere else you might have flubbed. 

Ingrown Hairs 

Ingrown hairs can be a year-round issue for those who shave, but swimsuit season can make those swollen, irritated spots particularly obvious. They're the result of a hair getting caught on skin as it's exiting the follicle, and then turning back on itself, growing down into the skin and becoming inflamed. 

To help fend off ingrowns, Dr. Shah recommends regular exfoliation (see the options suggested in the above section) in the area you're shaving to prevent dead skin cells from trapping hair in the follicles. Likewise, she adds, "When shaving, use a fresh blade and shaving gel or cream and shave in the direction of growth. Immediately afterwards, apply some hydrocortisone to reduce inflammation."

Some people are especially prone to ingrown hairs — curly types are particularly susceptible — so if exfoliation and shaving techniques still leave you looking bumpy, try switching to waxing or a hair-removal cream, which leaves the re-growing hair less sharp and snag-prone as it exits the follicle, or consider opting for a more permanent solution with laser hair removal.

Boob Sweat 

According to science, the average human has more than 2 million sweat glands on their body. According to bra you wore all day in the summer heat, approximately 1 million of those are on your boobs. Even worse, those warm, damp conditions can also make a great breeding ground for fungal infections (think athlete's foot, but on your chest. Yay!).

One common DIY fix for boob sweat: good, old-fashioned antiperspirant. Aluminum salts in antiperspirants work to prevent sweat from escaping your sweat glands whether it's under your arms or under your breasts. There are downsides to the method — only true antiperspirants will help, so natural deodorant devotees are out of luck. Additionally, Dr. Chiu warns that, "Over time, the antiperspirant itself can be irritating to thin-skinned areas that undergo a lot of friction and rubbing, such as under the breasts." An alternate option is to try a powder like Lush Silky Underwear, which uses a blend of kaolin clay and cornstarch to sop up sweat and keep your underwire fresh and dry.

As for those other issues brought on by sweat? Keeping the skin on your chest dry will help to ward off the conditions that allow fungi to grow, but if you do notice itching, flaking or cracking skin, an over the counter anti-fungal cream should do the trick.

Melting Makeup

The most important factor in crafting a makeup look that will last all day through heat and humidity is printed right on the back of your favorite products: the ingredient list. Film formers like silicones and acrylate- and acrylamide-polymers create molecular chains that help keep makeup particles from drifting (no coincidence that they're a major component in many primers and waterproof formulas). Look for products that feature them high up on the ingredients lists for maximum staying power. Similarly, formula makes a big difference: While powders may seem like the way to go to sop up oil, creams and gels are actually your best bet for staying powder because of the way their particles hold on to one another.

That doesn't mean that lifting away oil is a bad idea, though. In fact, for a makeup look that will last all day, blotting is essential. Start as you're applying your makeup, pressing a clean tissue over your face, focussing on slickness-prone spots like your T-zone, and then up the ante throughout the day with a pack of blotting papers (we like Tatcha's) to stop slippage before it starts.

Body Acne 

In the words of Alanis Morissette, isn't it ironic that the time of year when you're most likely to be showing off your skin is also the time when you're most likely to find your body studded with blemishes? Just as they can on your face, sweat and oil can block pores on your body, with the chest, back and butt being the most commonly afflicted areas. Disappointing as that is, the upshot is that odds are, you already have what you need to fight back against bacne sitting in your medicine cabinet.

Body acne typically responds to the same ingredients and treatments that your face blemishes do, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Even better, you don't have to worry nearly as much about overdoing it and winding up with dry, flaky spots on your body, so don't stress too much about holding back. "I generally give my patients products and plans for the body that may be a little stronger, as the body skin is less sensitive," says Chiu. To cover maximum surface area, medicated body washes and sprays like Paula's Choice Clear Acne Body Spray can be a winning solution (and save you a lot of time, as compared with spot treating).

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