"But my skin gets better with sun!"

Have you experienced this? Have you noticed that your skin clears up when you get some sun? Well, don't be fooled.  Here's what's really happening.

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Sun exposure suppresses the immune system, which decreases the inflammatory response to acne and reduces redness. If you have skin that tans in the sun, you might also notice less redness due to your skin’s increase in pigment. But while sunbathing might seem like a good short-term fix for acne, it can make your breakouts much worse in the long run, as well as causing far more dangerous problems such as skin cancer. UVA rays are not the tanning rays, but we are exposed to them whenever the sun is shining. They can penetrate glass, so we are always vulnerable to them, even in winter. They reach deep into your skin to break down the collagen and elastin and prevent skin from producing more. UVB rays are the tanning rays; they don't penetrate as deeply into the skin, but they are more responsible for cancers. The result of exposure to both of these types of rays is that your skin loses structure and begins to show typical signs of aging; brown spots, leathery skin texture, wrinkles, and even the appearance of larger pores. Over time the walls of your pores lose elasticity and sag, appearing larger as a result.

Getting a sunburn or suntan also dries out the skin. If you have oily skin and you dry it out too much, the skin’s response is to make more oil. The skin is always trying to maintain its natural barrier and stay in balance.

So, what to do?

Every day, apply sunscreen to the face, neck, ears, and the back of the hands. These are the areas that get the most sun exposure. Try keeping a hand cream with SPF in your car as a reminder to protect your hands, and a powdered sunscreen in your bag to re-apply during the day or to get your ears and scalp if you know you'll be in the sun for any length of time.

Conventional sunscreens can be heavy and oily, irritating acne-prone skin, but there are many acne-safe products on the market now. I carry several different types of acne-safe sun protection products. Check them out the next time you come in! And remember to keep your skin protected all year long.