This article looks at the effects of the sun and vitamin D for clearing acne. Does sun exposure improve acne or is vitamin D the key factor to healing skin?
When I was growing up and suffering from acne, May and June would often bring comments from friends and family such as “now the summer’s here your spots will clear up” and “all your skin needs is a good summer holiday!” – but can all that extra sunlight really cure your acne?
Sun, sea + vitamin D for acne
Many of us believe that getting out in the sun and getting a “healthy tan” (I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but NO tan is actually a healthy tan) will do wonders for your acne and help heal your skin. But where does this theory come from? There’s no smoke without fire so there must be some truth behind it, right?
Tanning & sun sensitivity
Unfortunately, the truth is, it’s pretty much all just an illusion! You may think that your spots are fading due the sun, but in fact, what you are seeing is your complexion darkening around the pimples – making them less noticeable. The sun can also dry your skin out big time – which will improve your skin short term by drying up pimples and temporarily reducing oil production, but this will only be a short term effect – sun exposure actually just aggravates one of the root cause of your skin problems – excess oil production! Once your skin realises it’s drier than normal it will just produce a whole tonne of extra sebum which will more than likely give you breakouts PLUS all that sun exposure can also cause hyperpigmentation and darkening of already existing acne scars – meaning that when your tan fades, you could be left with darker marks that will take longer to heal and fade.
To make matters worse for you and your acne, if you’re using chemical based acne treatments that contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, then they can increase the chances of sun sensitivity, making your skin more vulnerable to long-term UV-related aging and damage so slap on that natural sun protection (I highly recommend Green People’s Day Solution SPF15) and avoid baking your face under the sun. While it might seem like a good idea and a quick fix to your skin problems – it will actually just cause further irritation and damage to your already delicate skin.
Stress management for acne
We are told time and time again that stress = acne! Stress is said to be a major factor in acne cases in a number of different ways. Primarily it can lead to hormone imbalances which causes an excess of sebum production. This sticky sebum can block up our pores which leads to inflammation which will end up developing into the king of all breakouts! Stress can also cause us to indulge in high sugar, processed foods (read my post on sugar and acne here), disrupted sleep patterns and bad behavioural habits such as touching your face or picking any existing spots.
So how does this relate to the sun?
Well let me ask you this, when was the last time you really really enjoyed some quality time in the sunshine? Was it on holiday? By the pool on a rare day off or a lazy weekend by the beach? I’m sure when you were enjoying that warmth on your skin that there was little room for stress and worries – even if you’re a total worrywart like myself! This makes it easy to attribute our clearer skin to the sun but could it actually be more to do with our lower stress levels and relaxed state on mind
Vitamin D for acne
We’re spending more of our time indoors, working long hours behind desks and thanks to our typical British weather – we barely even see the sun for 6 months of the year – let alone have the time to enjoy it! This, combined with the increasing concerns over sun damage and skin cancer, mean that we’re slathering the sun lotion on when do get those rare stolen moments in the sun (sun lotion usually blocks over 90% of vitamin D production!) so as a nation our vitamin D levels are quickly becoming depleted.
Acne and other skin disorders can be associated with vitamin D deficiencies. Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin and plays a key role in healing and preventing acne by cooling inflammation, smoothing the skin, improving mood, boosting your immune system and helping to control insulin response. However, if you’re suffering with persistent acne it’s generally due to something much deeper than just a single vitamin D deficiency – but taking this vitamin will definitely give your skin that extra boost you’ve been looking for whilst offering other health benefits such as healthy bones and muscle development!
Studies into vitamin D deficiency have shown that more than half the population of the UK are deficient in vitamin D with 16% suffering severe deficiency during the darker winter months so it’s really important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D all year round – not just during the summer months.
How do I up my vitamin D for acne healing?
Foods such as oily fish, eggs and vitamin D fortified foods such as cereals and milks do contain small levels of vitamin D however considering the % of UK population who are deficient, it’s safe to say that diet alone isn’t enough! During the summer months a handful of 15 minute sun lotion-free exposure to the sun each week is enough to keep your vitamin D levels topped up, however I like to supplement every day with Better You Vitamin D3 oral spray – especially during the winter. By using an oral spray you can ensure than you get a guaranteed level of absorption that a tablet or capsule cannot provide. Studies by Cardiff University have shown that when the oral vitamin D supplement is sprayed under the tongue or on the inside of the cheek, it is absorbed directly through the mucous membrane and into the blood system meaning that there’s no loss during the absorption process – unlike if you were to take a tablet or capsule where it would go through your digestive system first before being utilised by the body.
If you do decide to supplement your diet with vitamin D (which I recommend, especially during the winter months) then it’s also important to make sure you’re taking the right levels of co-factors such as vitamin K2 (which helps to transport vitamin D round the body), Magnesium and Zinc. Vitamin K2 can be found in high quality, fermented vegetables and grass-fed animals, Magnesium I take as a supplement from but is also found in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish and beans and Zinc is found in red meat, sesame and pumpkin seeds but I also supplement with a liquid tincture of Zinc.
So while the sun can have some positive benefits on your skin – it’s vital to not go overboard with the tan – you’re acne is more than likely down to other factors that need addressing. Stay safe and supplement responsibly and your skin will thank you for it in the long run!
Have you experienced the benefits of supplementing with vitamin D for acne?
Peace, Love & Clear Skin