vitamin DI feel like it’s a good idea for me to mention this at least once per winter. Tons of people are deficient in vitamin D, especially now that a lot of us are using SPF more regularly. Our bodies are perfectly designed to get vitamin D through sun exposure on the skin, so well designed in fact that if you get enough sun exposure during the summer, your body will hold on to its vitamin D and use it all winter. However, if you are light skinned and didn’t end up getting 10-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per day during the summer or if you are darker skinned and didn’t get a bare minimum of 20-60 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per day, you may need to supplement with a vitamin D pill this winter. To know for sure you need your doc to check your levels.

Vitamin D helps in wound healing, cell differentiation, and in moderating inflammation, 3 things that are important to acne sufferers. While there is little published research attempting to link vitamin D levels to acne, it can’t hurt to make sure your levels are in the acceptable range. I would love to see more research on this in the future.

I am light skinned and I try to get unprotected sun exposure during the summer whenever I can, but I work during the day and very often don’t get the time in the sun that I like. The last time I had my vitamin D levels checked they were right on the line between acceptable and deficient, so I take a 10,000iu vitamin D pill a few times a week during the winter. 10,000iu is the upper limit recommended by the Vitamin D Council per day. Your body can produce 10,000iu – 25,000iu in a day of moderate sun exposure. When taking vitamin D, look for D3, which almost all leading authorities recommend over D2, and as always, if you have specific medical issues, be sure to talk to your doctor before supplementing.

Feather Light Touch
Lots of people will try a new skin care product and be sure it broke them out. They assume it is something in the product itself–a bad ingredients of some kind. However, people often miss a stealthy cause of breakouts: irritation.

Let’s say you are sensitive to acne on the back of your neck. You don’t normally use a sunscreen there but now that it’s getting sunny you started applying some sunscreen there each morning for the past week. Boom, you broke out. You are certain it is the sunscreen. What else could it be!? Well, it could be the irritation when you applied it. Your neck has been accustomed to being left alone. And acne-prone skin loves being left alone. Then whamo, for the past week you have been slathering on sunscreen and not being gentle at all. What you don’t realize is that you have been irritating your skin on a daily basis.

The moral of the story: Consider irritation as a potential cause of breakouts, not just products themselves. And always apply any product with a featherlight touch.

Now go have some fun in the sun 🙂

golden serpent fernA recent article in the journal Alternative and Complementary Therapies discusses herbal sunscreens and sun protectants. Of specific interest is an herb called golden serpent fern (Phlebodium aureum). Several studies have been performed, and an extract from the plant, when taken orally, appears to help protect the skin from damage. In one particularly intriguing clinical trial, people were able to stay in the sun almost 3 times as long with golden serpent fern than without. According to the authors of the article, “The data on golden serpent fern extracts look very promising for counteracting negative effects of UV exposure in healthy people wishing to avoid sunburn…”

I think it would be great to have something oral that could help protect against the sun. This would limit the amount of stuff people need to put on their skin, thus eliminating potential breakouts. The only problems is I cannot find a single place anywhere online to buy golden serpent fern.

Two questions:

1) Have any of you tried golden serpent fern? If so, did it work?
2) Any ideas on where I can get my hands on some?

References:

  • Yarnell E and Abascal K. “Herbal Sunscreens and Ultraviolet Protectants.” Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 2012; 18(3): 141-144.