Most people think that breakouts are more common during sweaty summers, but the opposite is true - you're more likely to breakout in cold weather. Studies show moderate-to-severe acne 11% higher in winter compared to summer. If you didn’t know it already, acne season is October – March which makes Valentine’s Day terrible timing.
Why? Well let’s start with Vitamin-D.
Vit-D is a fat-soluble hormone which is plays a critical part in your immune system. Acne is principally an immune response & having a sluggish immune system means acne flares much more frequently & intensely. According to a study from 2014, Vit-D also blocks the bacteria mainly responsible for acne from affecting skin cells & plays a major role in managing stress levels & stress (well the hormone behind stress, Cortisol) is also linked to breakouts.
A 2016 study found that people with acne are twice as likely to have lower levels of Vitamin D than those without the skin condition. (source https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161162) In fact, at least 3 out of 4 of us in the UK, Europe & US are likely to be deficient in Vit-D this time of year. If you work in an office – you are almost certainly one of the 3. If you have dark skin as well, sorry but you’re at position #1.
We make Vitamin D naturally from absorbing sunshine which explains why in winter our levels drop. Not only is there less light but we don’t go out as much & when we do, we’re wrapped up warm with only our hand & face exposed. Que natures sense of humor – there are no Vitamin-D receptors on our feet, hands or face. The fact is we get hardly any Vitamin D between October and March.
OK, so having a high level of Vit-D will mean a lower level of breakouts & I can’t get any in winter. What can I do about it?
Supplementation & diet.
You need to supplement during the winter months (from about August until around April) with at least 1000 iu of Vit-D a day. The RDA of Vit-D is 800 – 1000iu. 4000iu is the safe upper limit according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
There are lots of Vitamin D supplements available & despite the hype around sprays, capsules have been clinically shown to be equally as effective & much less painful on the bank balance (source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27724992). Our 28 Day Skin One Pill has 1000 iu of VitD as well as Zinc, Green Tea & Probiotics (& is obviously the best 😉) but really any Vitamin D supplement is better than no Vitamin D.
You can boost your Vitamin D levels through diet as well, but it’s hard to consistently reach the 1000 iu plus levels especially if you are vegetarian or vegan. Some of the highest Vitamin D foods are Salmon (526 iu/100g), Herring (216 iu/100g), sardines (177 iu/100g), tuna (268 iu/100g), eggs (37 iu/100g) & mushrooms (130 iu/100g). Wild sources are often higher than farmed.
You don’t need to monitor Vitamin D like some crazed scientist – just sticking to supplements & good diet is enough but if scrupulous monitoring of your body is your bag there are lots of Vitamin D apps you can use (we like Vitamin-D Pro by Calcium Science, LLC) or if you really want to geek out there are (really complex looking) Vit-D calculators online such as https://vitamindwiki.com/UV+and+Vitamin+D+calculators
Next blog we’ll look at the other factors making this Winter breakout time – skin oil, illness, stress & poor relationship choices.