Pimple Alert: Does the Sun Help Acne?

Does sun cause acne

Does sun cause acne?
Sun exposure can temporarily improve acne but often worsens it in the long run, especially for acne-prone skin. It’s important to use the right sunscreen and balance sun exposure with effective skin care to prevent acne flare-ups and skin damage.


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In this post, we delve into an intriguing question: does sun cause acne? For those with acne-prone skin, understanding this connection is crucial for maintaining a healthy complexion. Whether you’re soaking up rays at the beach or just enjoying a sunny day, it’s important to know how the sun affects your skin. We’ll also explore how a plant-based lifestyle can be a game-changer for your skin’s health and radiance.

Sun Exposure and Acne

Sunlight and acne have a complex relationship that’s crucial for anyone with acne-prone skin to understand. While some believe that the sun might help clear up acne, the reality is more complicated. 

Can the Sun Help Acne? 

Brief exposure to solar radiation can temporarily improve it.

But Watch Out…

The appearance of acne can actually worsen with prolonged exposure to the sun. This is due to the UV radiation and UVB rays that the sun emits, which can cause skin damage and irritate acne. 

Therefore excessive sun exposure can actually worsen acne in the long run.

Also, it’s not just about immediate sun damage; the sun can exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions and lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

This means that after the initial soothing effect of the sun, you might notice darker spots where acne once was, especially if you have sensitive skin.

For those with acne-prone skin, unprotected time in the sun can lead to more severe acne flare-ups and increase the risk of developing long-term skin issues. So, while a little sun can feel good, it’s important to balance it with proper skin care to prevent further damage.

Protecting Your Skin from the Sun

When it comes to safeguarding your skin from the sun, the key is finding the right balance. 

Effective protection from UV light and the sun’s UV rays is crucial, as these can aggravate acne breakouts and lead to skin damage. This is where the importance of UV radiation protection comes into play, especially for those with oily skin or sensitive skin types. 

Does sun cause acne - hat at the beach

Using broad-spectrum sunscreen is a vital step in this process. It’s not just about blocking the UVB rays; it’s about providing comprehensive protection against all harmful aspects of sunlight. 

Additionally, incorporating protective clothing into your outdoor routine can further shield your skin from excessive sun exposure, reducing the risk of inflammatory skin conditions and long-term skin health issues.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

For those with acne-prone skin, selecting the right sunscreen can be a game-changer. The debate between mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreens is significant here. 

Mineral sunscreens, containing ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, sit on top of the skin and physically block UV rays. They are often recommended for sensitive skin, as they are less likely to cause irritation. 


On the other hand, chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin and then absorb UV rays, converting them into heat, and releasing them from the body. While effective, they can sometimes exacerbate acne in oily skin types

Choosing a sunscreen that is non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and suited to your skin type is essential for both effective sun protection and acne management.

Eating to Prevent Acne

A diet that promotes healthy skin can significantly influence the management of acne breakouts, especially for those with acne-prone skin. 

A vibrant plant-based diet is your go-to in this case. 

Foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can help combat inflammation, a key factor in acne development. A plant-based diet, full of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, can be particularly beneficial. 

Plant-based foods like green tea also protect your skin from UV radiation.

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These foods can help regulate sebum production, reducing the likelihood of clogged pores and acne breakouts. Moreover, such a diet can aid in fighting free radicals, known to cause skin damage and premature skin ageing. 

Incorporating foods with anti-inflammatory properties not only supports overall health but also plays a crucial role in acne management and maintaining clearer skin.

Natural Remedies for Acne

Dealing with acne breakouts caused by sun exposure can often be managed with natural remedies, especially for those preferring gentle approaches. 

For acne-prone skin, using natural ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties can be beneficial. These ingredients help soothe the skin and reduce redness and swelling associated with acne. 

Woman sitting in a tree

Aloe vera, for instance, is renowned for its soothing and healing properties. Additionally, home remedies like honey masks or tea tree oil applications can be effective in managing acne breakouts. 

They work by targeting acne-causing bacteria and reducing sebum production, thereby helping to clear clogged pores and promote clearer skin. However, it’s important to remember that while these natural remedies can be helpful, they should be used as part of a comprehensive skin care routine tailored to your specific skin type.

Acne Treatments: Combating Sun Damage

For those dealing with acne scars and sun damage, professional acne treatments can offer more substantial results. These treatments are designed not only to treat existing acne but also to address the aftermath of sun exposure, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and premature skin ageing. 

Options may include topical treatments that focus on reducing sebum production and inflammation, as well as more advanced procedures like chemical peels or laser therapy to reduce acne scars and dark spots. 

It’s essential for acne sufferers to consult with a dermatologist to determine the best course of action based on their skin type and specific condition. 

Additionally, maintaining a routine that includes sun protection and the use of skin care products designed for acne-prone skin can help prevent further skin damage and promote overall skin health.


Does sun cause acne? Managing acne-prone skin under the sun involves more than just temporary fixes; it requires a balanced approach combining sun protection, appropriate skin care, and a delicious plant-based diet. While moderate sunshine can feel good, remember that it’s not a cure-all for acne breakouts and can lead to skin problems like premature skin ageing and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

FAQ: Does sun cause acne?

How do you prevent sun acne?

To prevent sun acne, use a broad-spectrum, non-comedogenic sunscreen suited for acne-prone skin, limit excessive sun exposure, and wear protective clothing. Maintaining a regular skin care routine, including cleansing and using products with anti-inflammatory properties, also helps.

What do sun pimples look like?

Sun pimples, similar to typical acne, appear as red, inflamed bumps on the skin. They may be more pronounced and occur in areas exposed to the sun. Unlike heat pimples, they’re not necessarily clustered and can be scattered across sun-exposed areas.

What are heat pimples?

Heat pimples, or heat rash, are small, red, and sometimes itchy bumps that appear due to excessive sweating, often in hot and humid conditions. They’re usually found in areas where sweat accumulates, like the forehead, neck, and under the breasts.

How do you get rid of sun pimples naturally?

To naturally treat sun pimples, use gentle, natural remedies like aloe vera gel, tea tree oil, or honey masks. These ingredients soothe the skin, reduce inflammation, and help in healing. It’s also important to keep the skin clean and hydrated.

What is the best treatment for sun acne?

The best treatment for sun acne involves a combination of sun protection, using non-comedogenic skin care products, and possibly medicated treatments for acne if severe. Consult a dermatologist for personalised advice, especially if over-the-counter remedies don’t work.


Gabros S, Nessel TA, Zito PM. Sunscreens and Photoprotection. [Updated 2023 Jul 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. 

Heinrich U, Moore CE, De Spirt S, Tronnier H, Stahl W. Green tea polyphenols provide photoprotection, increase microcirculation, and modulate skin properties of women. J Nutr. 2011;141(6):1202-1208. doi:10.3945/jn.110.136465

Piquero-Casals J, Morgado-Carrasco D, Rozas-Muñoz E, et al. Sun exposure, a relevant exposome factor in acne patients and how photoprotection can improve outcomes. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2023;22(6):1919-1928. doi:10.1111/jocd.15726