Wearing Sunscreen At Night Helped Clear Up My Acne

A zit-healing secret has been right under (or on top of) our noses!
Publish date:
June 18, 2013
acne, zits, sunscreens, Mario Badescu, zinc oxide, clear skin

I’ve been under the radar for a little while because I had a really bad breakout and didn’t want to face the world. I thought I had my skin figured out, but then an onslaught of stress, hormones, and perhaps over-exfoliation got the best of me. Or maybe it’s the change in seasons.

Anyway, my skin was dried out and covered in bumps and blackheads, with a particularly offensive and painful cystic acne breakout on my cheek that was showing no signs of improvement whatsoever. I’d tried all my go-to acne products, but nothing seemed to help.

I was tired of angling my face to one side to hide the monstrosity on the other. What’s a girl to do when she has a blemish that just won’t quit?

My first plan: go get a facial! And of course this facial would be at Mario Badescu, because they don’t mess around when it comes to extractions. Before the spa was even open, I desperately called in an appointment for a facial. Shortly after, I realized I literally had NO money for even their basic, affordable and amazing facial and had to abruptly cancel due to lack of funds. So it was on to Plan B.

After I called to cancel my appointment same-day like the broke bitch I am, I longingly perused the Mario Badescu website and looked at some products. I was immediately drawn to their Buffering Lotion; said to reduce cystic acne fast, I was beginning to think this product might just be the one to save me. The problem? It cost $17 dollars and I am on a SERIOUS budget. Bare-bones rations! Plus, I didn’t want to just go to the spa to shop for product after I cancelled an appointment for a facial.

The pseudo-scientist in me decided to do little research and found that all the top acne products I had my eye on at Mario Badescu have a striking commonality in their ingredients: zinc oxide! I had a feeling I was on to something, so I Googled, “zinc oxide for acne.” The results confirmed my hypothesis.

Now, when you hear zinc oxide, the first thing you probably think of is white noses at the beach, and the last is probably healing acne. Well, believe it or not, my cheek-cyst is finally gone!

I wish I knew why zinc oxide is not touted more often for its skin-clearing benefits. I think Badescu is flying under the radar with their formulations. The Buffering Lotion, Drying Lotion, and other skin-clearing products contain zinc oxide. Yet benzoyl peroxide creams and salicylic acid gels tend to be the drugstore standard products for acne. I find it unfortunate and a little baffling, because zinc oxide is a much gentler proven way to clear acne because of its anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

The best sunscreens for acne-prone complexions are the ones that contain zinc oxide. It's a physical filter, which means it contains mineral particles in that protect you from the sun by reflecting light away from you. But it turns out, the acne-clearing benefits of zinc oxide work at night, too!

I did an experiment over the past couple of weeks using 6.8% zinc oxide sunscreen cream with a white petroleum base. In addition to using it as my daily sunscreen, I have also been applying it at night to help clear my blemishes. And it works! Just a note of caution: The consistency of zinc oxide is very thick, and too much can leave a white cast on your skin. I advise you apply it sparingly and rub it in well. Sometimes, I just spot treat.

I apply it to my entire face in a thin layer; maybe a pinky-finger-full. It will kind of make you look like a greasy ghost for a minute. Once it absorbs, you can start to actually see the skin calming down, especially if the area is irritated. I admit, at first it felt counterintuitive to apply a thick cream over my breakouts at night, but it only took one night for me to see a difference in how my skin was healing and the bumps eventually started going down.

In just a couple days, the cyst began to reduce in size and layers began to peel off. (Sexy.) It definitely took time--not an overnight miracle--but any acne sufferer knows that if you have a really bad cyst, you just need to be patient with these things. Sucks, I know. I have been continuing this routine, since there haven’t been any signs of irritation.

Diaper creams, such as Desitin, have even higher concentrations of zinc oxide, 40%, but I have been pleased with my results clearing up the month-long cystic breakout on my cheek with a 6.8% concentration. I hypothesize that using a 40% zinc oxide cream would be better as a spot treatment or mask. I mean, if it’s safe enough for a baby’s bottom, it should be OK on your face, right?

(Of course, zinc supplements are available to take internally as well, but be sure to always consult your doctor before starting a new vitamin regimen.)

Has anyone else had luck with zinc as an acne remedy? Got a favorite zinc oxide product?