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The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with Acne-Prone Skin

We all deserve to escape from our daily work/life routine from time to time. If you have acne-prone skin though, you know our skin rarely allows us to take a day off! That’s why it’s so important to have a plan of action for maintaining good skin health, especially if you have upcoming travel plans. Part of that plan is understanding how acne forms — that way you can properly treat it.

Acne starts from within, but certain external factors can definitely contribute to breakouts. Acne prone or not, we have some tips for you so you can stay on top of your skincare game, even when you’re away from home.

1. Keep it simple by sticking to your routine.

What’s the best way to keep your skin healthy when you’re at home? Stick to a skincare routine. So what’s the best way stay on top of your skin’s health on the road? Stick to your routine, and only pack the essentials. We know you might want to experiment with that fancy exfoliating peel you just splurged on, but now is not the time! Your usual cleanser, treatment lotion or serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen are all you need to set yourself up for success on a short trip. No need for a heavier overnight bag!

2. Bring travel size products. 

Like we said above, stick to the essentials! Better yet — purchase travel-friendly sizes of your go to skincare products! The products in SLMD's Acne System are all in TSA travel sized bottles so you don't have to fear getting your fave cleanser ripped away at security!

3. Don’t forget to expect a change.

A change in environment can definitely affect your complexion, so brace yourself if you’re experiencing different weather conditions. Also note that unfamiliar water can take a toll on acne-prone skin. We don’t have a hack for controlling the water that comes out of the shower faucet, but if you’re consistent with your routine — hopefully you’ll have nothing to worry about.

4. Manage oily skin without over-drying.

If you’re headed to a dry climate — or just headed anywhere by plane or other form of transportation where you’re trapped in recycled air for an extended amount of time — your skin is guaranteed to dry up as you dehydrate and produce more oil in an attempt to make up for what’s been lost by the arid air temps and conditions. You might be tempted to scrub or wash all that oil away with an intense cleanser, but this can actually end up making oil production worse (ugh, we know).

Rather than overwashing, absorb excess oil with blotting sheets or wipes, like SLMD's Step Zero: Cleansing Wipes!

5. Bring a travel size of your favorite mask.

When you need some extra help de-gunking your pores, a firming clay or charcoal mask may be exactly what your skin needs to draw out impurities without risking irritation. Hydrating sheet masks or leave-on formulas are ideal if you’re headed somewhere dry or cold.

6. Never forget a spot treatment.

New climate, new surroundings, new schedule, new food — sometimes despite our best efforts, a breakout is just bound to happen when you’re away from home, and that’s OK! Packing a spot treatment, like SLMD's Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment or BP Spot Treatment can work to zap zits while you sleep, and help you resist the urge to pick or pop, which can result in even more breakouts if bacteria spreads.

7. Even if it’s cold and grey out, and you think you don’t have to — wear sunscreen!

Wherever you’re headed, whatever the weather, wearing SPF daily is a must if you’re trying to keep your complexion looking and feeling its best. Choose a broad spectrum moisturizer with sunscreen, like SLMD's Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15, so you're protected from both UVA and UVB rays. You can also opt for a powdered sunscreen, like UV Bounce, if you're looking for a different kind of texture. UVA rays are able to creep through car and airplane windows and are the culprit of signs of aging, ie. fine lines and wrinkles and even skin cancer. UVB rays cause more damage to the surface of our skin and are responsible for the painful red sun burn all of us have experienced. So apply AND reapply to keep your skin safe and protected.

8. Don’t give bacteria a chance to transfer.

Whether you’re riding in the comfort of your own car or sharing an aisle on public transportation, it’s important to be aware of what comes in contact with your face. You may catch yourself resting your head to doze for a minute or two, against the window. We’re huge proponents of naps, but just know that windows, seat belt straps, and neck pillows can all harbor dead skin cells and harmful bacteria that can lead to pimples! Whenever possible, wipe down or wash any surfaces that may come into contact with your complexion, and keep your hands sanitized and away from your face.

9. Use the least amount of makeup you can tolerate.

Wear less makeup. If a full-face of makeup if your thing, don’t let us kill your vibe. But if you can, opt for a lighter face on the days that you’re traveling. Heavy makeup can clog your pores because it traps dead skin cells resting on the surface of your face. A tinted moisturizer or BB cream should even out skin tones and give you coverage, without irritating your face. Steering clear of products containing parabens and added fragrance will also help your case!

10. Catch those zzz’s.

Despite being away from home, do your best to get a good night’s sleep, or plan to take a nap (probably more realistic). Our bodies and our biggest organ, the skin, need rest to restore. Everyone requires a different amount, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends adults ages 18+ should aim to achieve between 7-9 hours a night. Overnight is when your skin heals and regenerates itself — so it’s important that you’re sticking to your nightly routine!

11. Stay hydrated.

Excess oil is usually blamed for breakouts, but overly dry skin is actually responsible for causing your body to produce more oil. If you’re spending time above 30,000 feet, this can ring especially true — the recycled air around you can be considerably arid and seriously lacking in humidity. A hydrating mist can keep the surface of the skin plump and protected from outside aggressors, but the best way to ensure healthy skin is with a good old fashioned glass of water. If frequent bathroom trips aren’t in the cards for you, try munching on grapes, apples, or even dehydrated fruits such as dried apricots.

12. Take a deep breath.

Can we meditate our acne away? Not quite, but taking a minute to slow down might help. Acne is the result of a hormonal imbalance, which triggers the sebaceous glands to produce more oil than is necessary. Testosterone has been known to trigger such a response, and the stress hormone cortisol, which runs along the testosterone pathway, is often seen in tandem with breakouts, according to a Huffington Post report.

In other words, keeping stress triggers low can’t hurt, which of course is easier said than done while traveling (especially with family). But if you feel like you need a blissed-out retreat to unwind and de-stress, even taking two minutes for some deep inhales and exhales can go a long way. It’ll help keep your cortisol levels down, therefore keeping excess oil production which can lead to acne — less likely.

Travel safe & have fun!

It might be easier said than done, but when it comes to maintaining acne-prone skin, our best shot at creating healthy habits is to stick to our regimens, stay positive, and take care of our bodies by sleeping and staying hydrated.

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