Is the Sun Good or Bad for Your Skin?


Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS


Hormesis is a toxicology term used to explain how varying amounts of exposure to specific input can have a biphasic curve on the health of an organism. In layman terms, exposure to certain substances may stimulate benefits, but larger doses may be toxic. Whether something is a poison or a cure is highly dependent on the dosage. This goes for almost everything in life: food, exercise, and even the sun. We all know of the cellular destruction that can be caused by too much sun, but low levels of stress from the sun may protect the skin.

Vitamin D

When discussing sun exposure and skin health, vitamin D is the primary factor. It is quite interesting that vitamin D is categorized as a vitamin at all, as the definition of a vitamin is something essential for the proper function of the human body that must be obtained through the diet. The best natural dietary sources of vitamin D (fatty fish and whole eggs) are poor compared to what is provided by sunlight1. Recent research suggests that nearly 42 percent of the population may be vitamin D deficient, and those who experience the least amount of sun exposure are at the highest risk for deficiency2. While we should all be eating our salmon and taking doTERRA Lifelong Vitality Pack®, the most efficient way to acquire that skin-protecting vitamin D is through a daily dose of sunlight.

The same UVB rays that cause your skin to burn with prolonged exposure and damage the DNA in the upper layers of skin may actually have benefits when exposure is moderate. The rays initiate metabolic and chemical reactions that result in the production of vitamin D. While vitamin D deficiency is most associated with bone health and immune system function, it also plays a role in regulating inflammation, which has a direct impact on the health of your skin. Increased levels of inflammation can cause skin redness, swelling, and various signs of aging3. Studies have also shown that vitamin D can be photoprotective, actually protecting the skin from the DNA-destroying effects of extreme UV exposure4. 

Further clinical research suggests that vitamin D also plays a role in normal wound healing by regulating the expression of the protein cathelicidin and by increasing reepithelialization, the process that creates a functional barrier to protect the deeper skin layers from environmental exposures5. Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for acute blemishes and long-term skin health1. While sunburn is the primary risk factor for skin cancer, by totally eliminating sun exposure, you are not providing the stress that is necessary for your body to build up its own natural skin-defending mechanisms.


To ensure your intake of vitamin D is adequate to promote skin health, eat a healthy whole food diet and supplement with doTERRA Lifelong Vitality Pack, but don’t forget your daily dose of sunshine. While a sunburn is the most obvious sign of DNA destruction, moderate amounts of sun-derived stress initiate the hormetic response necessary to develop the protective mechanisms that keep your skin clean, clear, and healthy long-term. 


doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.

Luke Vella