Does Sun Help Acne? Here's What A Dermatologist Thinks

Holidays bring more beauty benefits than you can fit into a cotton beach bag with an embroidered flamingo on the front. Sea salty hair, a gentle glow and a clearer complexion, to name a few.

When it comes to the latter, though, what's going on? Does sun help acne? Or is this a case of when you chill out, your oil production chills out, too – ergo all that blemish-causing bacteria stops partying all over your T-zone?

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To settle this matter, WH tapped up Dr Justine Kluk, an acne expert and a British Association of Dermatologists spokesperson. Let's unpick this very important query, once and for all.

Does the sun help acne go away?

'I hear it a lot in my clinic, people saying that their skin gets better on holiday,' says Dr Kluk.

'And that might be the case for them. Perhaps something does go on with sun exposure that we don't understand yet.

'We do know that certain waves of light – such as blue – can help to kill p.acne, a strain of bacteria that propagates acne, and that blue and red light, used together, might help to destroy sebum [the oil secreted by your sebaceous glands, that can block pores.]

Anecdotally, some people find these therapies useful, but not everyone.' Effectively it could be the case that a specific light frequency emitted by the sun is helpful to some people dealing with breakouts, but there is no current scientific understanding of this, at present.

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Plus, Dr Kluk says that she sees just as many patients who claim that their skin gets worse on holiday, as say it gets better.

How might the sun help acne?

So, what might be going on here?

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'If you go on holiday, you're out of your stressful life – and we know that skin and stress are not friends,' says Dr Kluk. Also, if you're tanned, any redness associated with your spots is likely dialled down so you might look like your skin is more clear, even if it's actually not.

The flipside? 'If you're applying heavy duty sun creams and are out of your routine, your skin might flare up,' says Dr Kluk. So, rays are not a magic bullet. (Side note: try a mineral sunscreen, like this one from REN, if you do breakout when you apply the white stuff.)

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The problem with trusting the sun to sort your spots out

So. Is having a crack at turning to face the sun and hoping that your zits will get zapped harmless, even it doesn't work?

Yeah, not so much. 'We know without doubt that exposing ourselves to excess sun increases our risk of skin cancer and skin ageing,' says Dr Kulk. 'So I don't recommend people try it.

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Even a tan shows that your skin has been slightly damaged.' Basking in warm rays is one of life's great pleasures, sure – but get your SPF (factor 50) on and stay out of the midday heat, if you are in warmer climes.

What should you try to soothe your spots?

Rather than looking to the fireball in the sky to kill your blemishes, try these suggestions from Dr Kluk, instead.

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