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Will Chlorine Help Clear Up My Skin?

June 3, 2022

How does chlorine affect acne prone skin?

This is a question we get a LOT, especially as summer approaches. And I have to tell you – it is hard not to cringe when we hear it. Not because it’s a dumb question – there are no dumb questions! But because we’ve heard all the acne myths that people buy into and this is a BIG one!

We know where it stems from. Summer starts, you spend more time in the sun in the chlorinated pool and magically, seemingly overnight, your blemishes dry up, their size reduces and you think, “So chlorine is the cure!”

But sadly, much like sun exposure, this is not the case. Chlorine does not help your acne long term – in fact it does the exact opposite. 

Chlorine is a chemical used to kill bacteria in pools to make the water safe for swimming. And yes, chlorine DOES tend to dry up your skin, which seems like a good idea for people with oily or acne prone skin. But what it also does is to cause your sebaceous glands, the glands in your body that produce oil, to go into overdrive and start producing even more oil than they did before. This oil, combined with the flaky skin that results from the chlorine and the sun, traps the dead skin cells in your hair follicles and voila!…the result is a more aggressive acne breakout.

So inevitably, every summer, we have desperate swim team moms tell us they can’t find ANYTHING to help their swimmer’s skin. This is especially true for the hard core, year round, teenage swimmers, who essentially live in the water 365 days a year. And we get it. Even for us, who have been doing this for over 30 years, when someone whispers the phrase “swimmer acne,” we KNOW it will be a little more difficult to clear their acne.

What can you do if you have a swimmer with acne prone skin? First acknowledge chlorine does not help, but rather injures the skin and creates future breakouts  

After that – here are a few key things you can do:

  • BEFORE you get in the pool and ONLY if you’re swimming in the shade, apply a thin layer of pure Vaseline petroleum jelly to create a barrier to keep the chlorine off your skin.
  • Immediately after swimming, like while you’re still at the pool, thoroughly wash your face with a great cleanser to remove the chemical from your skin. Then moisturize to replace the lost hydration.
  • Thoroughly exfoliate topical layers of dead skin cells using our enzyme mask at least once a week to keep topical medications effective.

      So what is the take away from this post? GO OUT. BE ACTIVE. Enjoy the good weather because being out, being active and social is the key, in my opinion, to all happiness. But please take the appropriate measures to ensure sun safety(!!!) and skin health by applying loads and loads of sunscreen, staying in the shade and washing off the chlorine after you finish having fun in the pool on these lazy summer days!

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