We’ve all been there, scrolling through snaps of our perfect vacay skin. Oh, look there we are sporting a gorgeous sun-kissed face and not a single red and angry spot in sight, wondering why on earth we ever came back home again. Spots somehow seem to dry up in the sunshine and many of us suffer fewer breakouts when we’ve been away on holiday. And we’re pretty certain we are not dreaming it.
So, what really happens to our spots in the sun? Can a dose of sunshine actually be the best acne treatment? And does that mean we can get a prescription to go on holiday when we’re tackling a major breakout?
Dr Ophelia Veraitch, Consultant Dermatologist at Cranley Clinic, reveals the truth about the power of UV light on our skin.
Many people say they experience fewer breakouts and spots after being in the sun and on holiday, is there much medical truth in this?
“There is an element of truth within this as the UV light from the sun does have mild antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. However, some people can find that their acne can get worse in the sun, particularly if they are using thick sun creams that block the pores and lead to acne breakouts. It’s important to use a sheer sunscreen if you are prone to acne, such as Skinceuticals Brightening SPF or Zo Skin Health Obagi Daily Sheer.
How exactly might the sun clear up spots and what’s the science behind it?
“Certain waves of light can have a positive impact on the skin and significantly help to reduce the effects of acne. For instance, blue light can help to kill p.acne – a bacteria known to exacerbate acne – and red and blue light in combination can reduce excess sebum secreted by your sebaceous glands and in turn help to unclog blocked pores.”
Do you ever advise clients to seek some sunshine? Should we see a holiday as an acne cure?
“I would never advise seeking the sun as a way to effectively treat acne. We have far better methods of treating acne, and excessive sun exposure can lead to premature ageing and increasing the risk of skin cancer. However, controlled treatments with red / blue light can be helpful and provide effective results.”
Is there a way we can mimic the sunshine-clearing results without UV rays – what would you recommend?
“In order to ensure clear skin, it’s important to focus on skincare. Use a mild, non-foaming comedogenic cleanser and choose a moisturiser that is not too thick. Wear an SPFthroughout the day but choose one that is sheer or mineral, such as PCA Skin Weightless SPF.
“Try to minimise makeup too and avoid things like thick foundations. To treat acne at home combine active ingredients into your skincare regimen such as a glycolic cleanser in the morning and a retinol at night. If your acne is bothering you, IPL offers an effective treatment as do antibiotics or oral treatments such as spironolactone or isotretinoin as prescribed by a consultant dermatologist.”