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How to dress for summer if you struggle with body acne

How to dress for summer if you struggle with body acne
Struggling to dress in the summer heat when you’re conscious of blemishes and breakouts? We ask stylists for their top tips (hint: it doesn’t involve always covering up)
Dealing with body acne can be distressing at the best of times (if you know, you know), but while most are out giving their limbs some much-needed Vitamin D in floaty summer dresses and backless tops, those struggling with skin concerns won’t share the same enthusiasm for sunbathing (with SPF, naturally). 
"Dealing with body acne can be distressing at the best of times (if you know, you know)"
We don’t need a heatwave to remind us summer only exacerbates body acne (also known as truncal acne). Body acne is commonly characterised by cystic acne of the chest, shoulders, back or buttocks. In particular, these areas have large sebaceous oil glands—the root cause of body acne.

What causes body acne?

Body acne develops when sebum—an oily substance that lubricates your hair and skin—and dead skin cells block your pores. Bacteria can trigger inflammation—a specific acne-causing bacteria called Cutibacterium, to be exact—and infection, resulting in more severe acne. And of course, the more you sweat the more you’ll trigger the acne, hence its uptick in the summer months.
Woman seeing dermatologist for body acne
Sweat can exacerbate body acne
Rapid hormonal changes such as pregnancy, menopause and perimenopause can also contribute to body acne, but if yours is persistent—and you’re not going through any of the above—even a flare-up can be disheartening. The important thing to point out is that it can be treated: there are many targeted treatments, from exfoliating body washes to skin-soothing lotions and medicated creams that can help.
However, while you’re combatting your blemishes, you’ll still want to enjoy the sunshine in outfits that make you feel like the best version of yourself. And according to the experts, it’s about keeping specific things in mind when shopping for a summer wardrobe

Choose natural fabrics

Style coach and fashion presenter Janette Miller says the first thing to look out for is the material, as some are naturally harsh on the skin which will only exasperate the acne. “I recommend wearing natural fabrics where possible, especially in the warmer months. Natural fabrics such as cotton linen are breathable and can help you to keep cool and avoid irritation. Viscose, although semi-synthetic, also has cooling and breathable qualities.”
"Some [materials] are naturally harsh on the skin which will only exasperate the acne"
“Fabrics like modal and tencel are ideal because of their softness,” adds UK-based fashion stylist Georgia Michalopoulou. “Polyester used to be the number one material everyone avoided but technology has improved so much over the years, so it’s not as harmful today. Unfortunately, it's really hard to tell from the label what kind of polyester the manufacturer is using so I would avoid it if you’re ordering online but if you're shopping in-store have a feel to see if it feels like ‘plastic.’ If it does, choose another material. If not, you could experiment, depending on the outfit.”

Cover up? Not always!

Although this may be the first thought and action to take, covering up severe acne may cause irritation in the summer months. While it's important to do whatever you feel comfortable with, it’s important to let your skin breathe too, Janette adds.
Woman wearing cotton t-shirt
If you want to cover up, use light, breathable materials 
“Wearing breathable layers such as a light cotton jacket or a printed silk scarf that can be easily removed, will not only help you to keep cool, you'll look and feel stylish too.” It is, she adds, not about covering up but highlighting the areas you’d like people to see. “Take the focus away, as in treat yourself to a new haircut and colour and a fresh manicure or pedicure. If you have great legs, show them!”

Confidence is key

Janette suggests that just having the right size and fit in terms of clothing makes a huge difference to how you feel—whether or not you want to cover some blemishes up.
"It's not what we wear but how we feel in what we are wearing that matters the most"
“I work with many women that are conscious of particular areas on their body, such as abdominal weight gain, larger upper arms as well as skin conditions. Being aware of your body shape and your proportions can help you to dress confidently, by disguising the parts you prefer not to show while highlighting the areas that you like. The right cut and fit of the garment will do this while also increasing your confidence. You can also do this by using bright colours and bold patterns to highlight the parts that you like while using solid colours to play down the areas you’d like to disguise. Style elements such as sequins and ruffles do a great job at this too!”
“I strongly believe that it's not what we wear but how we feel in what we are wearing that matters the most. When we wear the right styles for our shape and colours that flatter our complexion, we ooze confidence, and body issues and skin conditions can become less of a focus throughout our day,” she continues.

Try things on

Georgia echoes Janette when it comes to confidence and says that it’s only through finding your own style and trying things on that you’ll find that it’s not about the body acne after all, but how good you feel when dressed.
“After styling hundreds of people over the years, I’ve seen that everyone unfortunately has body issues. No matter our age or size. The top tip I have is to try things on,” Georgia continues. “Even if at first glance, you think, ‘no way!’ try it on. You might surprise yourself. There's no reason not to experiment and have fun with fashion!”
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