Does the Sun Help or Hurt Acne?

sun exposure and acne

You might have heard the long-purported myth that spending time in the sun can clear up your complexion, but that is simply not true. In fact, the sun’s UV rays can wreak havoc on your skin, including making breakouts worse and putting you at a higher risk for developing a type of skin cancer known as melanoma.

Here’s what you need to know about the effects of sun exposure on acne blemishes and what you can do instead to get the clear, glowing skin you want.

Will the Sun Clear Up Acne?

The sun radiates various kinds of light, including ultraviolet light, blue light, red light, and infrared light. Much research has been done about the effects of light on the skin. We have known for years that blue light helps to kill P. acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. Red light helps to reduce the inflammation that occurs with acne. For this reason, blue and red light have become popular acne treatments. However, blue light has been shown to prematurely age the skin.

Acne exposed to sun is more likely to result in dark marks on the skin when the pimple clears.

Some studies have shown that acne worsens with sun exposure, while others show that it improves. That means that we really don’t know and the tradeoff from the sun damage is not worth the purported benefit. If you have acne-prone skin that is inflamed, the sun makes your skin more likely to develop hyperpigmentation (skin darkening) of existing acne blemishes and scars. This will leave you with long-lasting skin imperfections — not to mention the fact that the sun also causes premature wrinkles, age spots, sagging skin, and skin cancer.

How to Choose a Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

One of the most common problems for people with acne-prone skin is finding a sunscreen that won’t clog their pores and lead to acne. If this sounds like you, try switching from a chemical sunscreen to a physical sunscreen such as EltaMD Physical. Physical sunscreens contain mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to physically block the sun’s rays from penetrating your skin. These ingredients do not clog your pores like some of the ingredients commonly used in chemical sunscreens can.

Because sun exposure can make acne and every other skin condition worse, you do not want to skip sunscreen. Instead, choose a sunscreen that will work for your skin type, personal preferences, and activity level.

Getting Clearer Skin without the Sun

In addition to wearing a physical sunscreen every day, following a customized skincare regimen for your Baumann Skin Type® can help you get the clear, blemish-free skin you want without exposing it to the sun’s harmful UV rays. If you are unsure of your skin type, talk to a Skin Type Solutions approved physician in your area, who can administer the quick and easy Baumann Skin Type questionnaire to determine your skin type. Once you know more about your skin’s natural characteristics, you can work with your dermatologist to create a skincare routine that works for you. Acne-prone skin can often benefit from retinoids because these ingredients aid in desquamation (exfoliation) and help to keep pores clear. However, you should use retinoids in the evening because they become less potent with sun exposure. You also want to make sure you store them in a cool, dry environment at home.

In addition to treatments like retinoids, your STS approved physician can recommend a complete lineup of skincare products to help your skin stay clear and healthy without worsening other conditions such as dryness, oiliness, or sensitivities.

Bottom Line

Protecting your skin from the sun is crucial for achieving and maintaining a healthy, clear, and youthful-looking complexion. Don’t believe the myths that sun exposure can help acne! Instead, work on finding a sunscreen that will work for your skin type, and talk to a board-certified dermatologist about the best customized skincare routine and acne treatment regimen for you. You can also feel free to contact our Miami office online if you have additional questions or would like to schedule an appointment to help get your acne under control.

For more skincare advice, recommendations, and videos from Dr. Leslie Baumann and her team at Baumann Cosmetic, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!

As always, wishing you great, clear skin!


©2018 MetaBeauty Inc.

August 7, 2018 Acne