Finding Balance Between Curing My Skin Issues Naturally with Vitamin D & Avoiding Sun Damage
It's all about balance right? Usually when people say this they're referring to food, but today I'm referring to the sun/vitamin D vs. sun damage/skin protection.
Last fall (post-summer) I started to notice some skin colored bumps on my forehead. They're not TERRIBLE...it could be worse...at least they're skin colored right?...But they fluctuated between looking better or worse and would not go away. After having nearly perfect skin my whole life with no pubescent acne and only the occasional big red zit around that time of the month, I was very confused as to why this was happening. My first approach was switching to natural products. When that didn't work, I caved and went to the dermo and tried a topical cream (this I regret and would not do again). I realized after using the cream that 1) it was toxic so while I'm trying to make non-toxic lifestyle upgrades, it wasn't the best decision and 2) even if it relieved the acne temporarily (which it didn't), I still wouldn't get to the root of the issue. So I started researching and came across a few interesting things:
- adult acne is a thing (whether or not you were previously prone to acne)
- acne on the forehead region is usually tied to the liver/gut
- stress could easily be the culprit
My next approach was to address each of these problems. For the liver/gut, I started taking probiotics and also took the Pinnertest to find out what foods I was intolerant to and remove them from my diet. For stress, I'm constantly trying new techniques to manage this (acupuncture, meditation, adaptogens, CBD oil, etc.). Stress is weird for me...I'm never VERY stressed, but instead always just have a a constant low level of stress/anxiety and sometimes don't even know why. I also found out in January through my annual physical check-up that I was deficient in both vitamin B-12 and D so I started supplementing. Normally, I would recommend getting any vitamin deficiencies through food and not supplements but for B-12, that's primarily because I don't eat meat, and for D, the doctor said this was very common in the winter. Throughout all of these approaches, my skin continued to fluctuate between better and worse days which tricked me into thinking some of them worked, but it never actually cleared up.
I started to think it had something to do with my hormones, but to be honest, was giving up hope and didn't know what other holistic approaches to try. Then, on the 4th of July after having an extra day off work and spending a decent amount of time in the sun, I noticed my skin was clear for the first time since summer 2016. I hadn't changed anything in my diet or beauty routine so I started researching the effects of natural vitamin D (from the sun). I learned from Functional Medicine Dr. Jolene Brighten that vitamin D is synthesized in our skin when it's exposed to sunlight so just supplementing with vitamin D when your blood shows a deficiency is not the answer. You should be supplementing AND getting sun. So basically a vitamin D deficiency = a nature deficiency as well.
What About Sun Damage?
This lead to some internal confusion over how much sun to get vs. protecting my skin from sun damage. It seems very contradicting. I will also have to figure out what to do in the winter when the sun isn't as easily accessible but I'll deal with that when the time comes. For now, my approach is making sure that I get around 15 minutes of sunscreen-less sun at the beach prior to putting on my non-toxic zinc sunscreen (I use Badger on my face and Honest spray on my bod). It's funny - my skin looks clear on the weekends and then the bumps come back during the week when I'm at work/getting minimal sun.
Sooooo all I have to do for clear skin is quit my job and move to the beach? What about aging?
I am still making sure to apply sunscreen and wear a hat post-natural vitamin D exposure to protect my face specifically because I've noticed wrinkles around my eyes when I smile for the first time over the last few months. These could be caused from any of the below reasons:
- My dad has dark circles and under eye wrinkles so I could just blame this on my genetics. However in all previous summers I...
- refused to wear a hat.
- used toxic (cough Banana Boat) sunscreen
- rarely wore my sunglasses at the beach because I didn't want a sunglass tan. This caused squinting.
- smile, often. This also causes squinting. Once I started to pay attention to the squinting, I realized that I do it even when I'm not smiling. I'll blame that on my overly theatrical facial expressions, likely a result from my childhood acting career.
- was younger than 28. I could just accept that I'm getting old.
After prioritizing my natural sun exposure, I need to need to wear a hat, wear my sunglasses, squint less, use non-toxic sunscreen, and only smile at the people I REALLY like to avoid wrinkles and aging. In addition to sun protection for wrinkles/aging, I also ordered some marine collagen which is good for hair, skin and nails. I got the Vital Proteins brand but honestly don't LOVE it. I feel like I can taste it in my smoothies so I use less than the serving size in order to not taste it. I'm still consuming it, but without the right amount, it might not be doing the job and I can't say I've seen any noticeable results. I will likely try a different brand once I finish this one. I also recently started getting facial rejuvenation acupuncture (around the eyes) and think this is helping.
How Do I Take Care of My Skin But Still Get a Tan?
Now that I'm hiding behind sunscreen that makes you look like Casper and a broad rim Mrs. Allman hat, I had to figure out how to get a tan for my wedding. I've already been in the non-toxic skincare game and updated all of my lotions and cleansers but makeup is something that's taken me a little more time. I'm a more picky about these products and whether they're actually accomplishing what I'm looking for (bronzed boho goddess vs. simply just having clean skin & hydrated skin). I decided to finally break up with my supposedly "natural" Tart bronzer and take a risk on Vita Liberata which I discovered through the ThinkDirty app as a green light approved product. It turns out that upgrading my bronzer also came with the added benefit of discovering a whole line of approved bronzing products that will help make up for my not-as-Pochahontas-as-last-summer skin. For now (summer/until the wedding), I'm using the bronzer powder and the self-tanning anti-aging serum and loving them both. My body gets enough color even with sunscreen but my face is always a few shades lighter from the sunscreen + hat + glasses combo. In the winter, I will definitely be trying out their body bronzing products too. Best of all - most of the natural products I'm using have to be bought online but you can get Vita products at your corner Sephora (AND not pay shipping!). I honestly thought that the fragrances from even walking by a Sephora were toxic so I'm happy to hear they do actually sell some clean & TD approved products. Oh and the bronzer also comes with the cute lil Kabuki brush below :)