Sunburn, skin cancer, dried out skin… ultra-violet rays from the sun can be a menace, but I bet you didn’t know about solar acne. This is yet another point on the list of problems which too much direct sunlight can cause. But what is it? How can you avoid it? And when is a solar acne flare-up most likely to strike? Read this blog to find out and to prepare yourself for your next day-out in the sun.

There’s a lot of myths surrounding the sun and skin, so does a week in the warm weather *actually* give you a blissful break from concealer? Or is it wreaking havoc with your skin? We asked a dermatologist for the low-down on solar acne and how you can avoid it.


What is solar acne?

Dr Stefanie Williams of Eudelo, explains that some acne conditions are linked to sun exposure, including solar comedones (YouTube them if you must, but be warned it’s pretty gross). ADVERTISEMENT


They are enlarged blackheads or white bumps under the skin formed by clogged pores oxidising in the sun. They’re most commonly seen in those aged 40+, who have experienced prolonged exposure to sunlight, so thankfully not often diagnosed in our on-off climate.


How to avoid it

If your skin does tend to breakout on holiday leaving you reaching for the spot treatment, there may be a simple solution in the choice of suncream you use.


“It’s often lipid-rich, greasy sun protection creams, which will clog pores and aggravate acne,” says Williams. Instead she recommends advanced, high SPFsun protection products that have oil-free, lightweight base formulations that will not aggravate acne


Post-holiday hazard

“There is often a rude awakening after the holiday for many acne sufferers, when they experience a flare-up,” notes Williams. “The reason for this is that our skin defends itself against the harmful effects of the sun by thickening its outer layer, the stratum corneum. This is one of the skin’s protection mechanisms against sun damage. A thicker stratum corneum, however, means more clogged pores and thus more acne breakouts.”

To avoid unpacking a back-home-blemish, treat skin to an exfoliating cleanse and use a retinol product to resurface top layers of the skin. Note they can’t be used during sun exposure as retinol sensitises the skin to UV.

The sun can, however, work wonders on your skin. As Dr Williams explains: “Most people with acne will report an improvement of their condition when they are on a sunny holiday, in contrast to rosacea, which typically gets worse in the sun.

“The reason why acne usually improves in the sun is that UV light has mild anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.”


Now pass me the holiday brochure…

Check out our helpful treatments recommended for oily/acne pro skin types

  • ZO oil control facial – Medical grade products are used in this facial
  • Obagi Radiance Peel- Chemical exfoliation treatment to help remove dead skin cells and brighten skin tone