The sun and acne. Sigh. A few common thoughts:
- I feel like the sun helps my acne but I have heard that the sun makes it worse.
- I want to enjoy being in the sun but it’s difficult when most sunscreens make my acne worse.
- It’s summer time again and can somebody PUH-LEEZE tell me what to do.
For many years I simply avoided the sun. I read all the research about dangerous UV rays and I hated sunscreen because it always made my skin worse. If outside I would sit in the shade and wear a huge black hat and a long dress (with cool shades and red lips, of course). But then I had kids and I had to reassess my sun strategy. All of a sudden sequestering myself in the shade like a fragile china doll while my babies ran around like lunatics was not going to cut it. I had to put on a ballcap (so I could actually see), roll up my sleeves and start playing. I had to deal with the sun.
Now I love the sun and I can’t wait to get out there and make some real vitamin D. It simply feels so good – and it turns out that the sun can actually help to heal acne (when done responsibly, of course).
How does the sun helps acne?
- Vitamin D3, otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, may be very important when it comes to helping the skin stay clear. Research has shown that people with acne have 50-95% less vitamin D than people without acne.
- Vitamin D3 may decrease the growth of the cells that produce sebum (which means less oil production).
- Vitamin D3 may also protect skin cells from bacterial irritation (which means less inflamed acne).
- BUT – supplemental vitamin D3 is fat-soluable while the vitamin D3 that is made by the sun is water-soluable and travels freely throughout the body. Researchers are not certain that supplemental fat-soluable vitamin D3 is available in the skin to perform the above functions.
- The sun is also anti-microbial. In fact, the sun has been instrumental in curing infectious diseases throughout history. A great example are the tuberculosis sanitoriums during the early 1900s. And, as you know, p. acnes is a bacteria that contributes to the formation of acne (which means the sun may be able to help prevent p. acnes infections).
This means that taking some sun may be critical to helping acne heal. The sun is a powerful healer, but it must be used responsibly, because the risks of skin cancer are real.
How do you use the sun responsibly?
- Start exposing yourself to the sun very gradually and NEVER allow yourself to burn.
- Download the D-Minder App. This app takes your location, skin colour, amount of exposure and current vitamin D levels into account and calculates exactly how much sun exposure you need each day to produce adequate levels of Vitamin D3.
- Consume 80% fruits and vegetables in your diet so that you have ample anti-oxidants in your body to fight free radicals that are formed with UV radiation.
- Reduce inflammation in your body so that you are not as at risk for skin cancer.
- Apply a botanical oil that contains a natural sun protection factor while you are making vitamin D. These oils will help protect and nourish your skin without compromising vitamin D production. Good oils to apply include sea buckthorn oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil and red raspberry seed oil.
What if I am going to be out in the sun for a prolonged period of time?
- Use a pressed mineral powder on your face that contains a natural SPF. This is what I do every day all year long, except when I am spending the day at the beach.
- If your sun exposure is going to be intense (such as on the beach), use a natural zinc-based sunscreen on your face. My current favourite is Derma-E Anti-oxidant Natural Sunscreen Oil-Free Fact Lotion.
- Use a natural, organic full-spectrum zinc oxide-based sunscreen on your body as it blocks and reflects the UV rays instead of absorbing the sun’s rays. I like Derma-E Natural Mineral Sunscreen – it does not leave a white film.
- Cover up.