Many of us have been spending much more time outside—walks in the bosque or foothills, hiking and camping in the mountains, and visiting friends and family, 6+ feet apart in backyards. All of this time outside is so good for our immune system and mental health, however most people do not use sunscreen adequately (if at all). Only about 4.4% of adults are compliant with the recommended guidelines for applying sunscreen (30 minutes before heading outside, reapplying every 2 hours).
I have to admit, I don’t love wearing sunscreen. I frequently forget to reapply as often as I should. It can be sticky or greasy, and tends to make me break out. I know there are areas (center of the back, around eyes and hairline, etc) that don’t get adequate coverage. It’s almost enough to just give up, but there just might be a solution for the 95.6% of us who struggle to comply: Solcare from Anirva. https://anirva.com/pages/solcare-sun-care-uv-care-supplement . Of course this is not a straight replacement for sunscreen, but it can be a great addition to your suncare regimen!
High in antioxidants and specific ingredients that have been shown to reduce ultraviolet induced skin damage, this daily supplement (1-2 capsules daily) is formulated to help protect from UV light exposure from the inside out. (one should still use topical sunscreen, but this supplement can provide added protection, especially for those times when reapplication isn’t happening on the recommended schedule).
Of course, if you prefer to boost your sun protection through whole foods instead of supplements, increase your intake of tomatoes, dark leafy greens, red colored fish and seafood (salmon, trout, shrimp, lobster), green tea, and pomegranate (and don’t forget— sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure, and then again every 2 hours).
Note: I have no financial relationship with this company or product, it just happens to be one that I like.
Polypodium leaucotomos is a South American fern that has been shown to have antioxidant and photoprotective properties. “Compared to untreated mice, P. leucotomos-treated mice showed a significant reduction in the sunburn response and diminished histologic evidence of photoaging damage, including reduced dermal elastosis. Eight weeks after stopping UV exposure, P. leucotomos-treated mice also showed a reduction in the development of skin tumors compared to untreated UV-exposed mice.” 1
Lycopene, a caratenoid found in tomatoes (as well as watermelon, pink grapefruit, and several other fruits and vegetables) has been shown to protect the skin against UV damage. “Human clinical data suggests that continued consumption of tomato paste can dampen UV-induced skin erythema (i.e., sunburn)” 2. I will note that, while lycopene is the primary carotenoid in tomatoes, when comparing lycopene as a supplement vs in a whole-food form (tomatoes), the whole-food provided more UV protection, suggesting that there are some other phytochemicals at work in tomatoes. 2
Lutein, another caratenoid found in dark leafy greens, peas, summer squash, pumpkin, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, carrots, and pistachios, has also been shown to help protect against solar radiation-induced health damage. “studies have shown the antioxidant abilities of lutein can help fight free radical damage from sun exposure. When present in sufficient quantities in the skin, lutein assists in filtering high-energy wavelengths of light which slows down the rate of oxidative stress. The result is significant protection against photodamage including sunburn, signs of aging and potentially even skin cancer” 3
Astaxanthin, yet another caratenoid found naturally in some algae, salmon, shrimp, lobster, and other red seafood, has also been shown to provide some protection against UV-induced skin damage. 4
Green tea leaf extract, high in polyphenols, and pomegranate juice extract, high in antioxidants, both have been shown to help protect against UV mediated skin damage. 5 6
Milk thistle seed extract has been shown to have the potential to inhibit collagenase and elastase (the enzymes that break down collagen and elastin). “SM [Silybum marianum (L.), milk thistle seed] and its flavonolignans may be useful agents for skin protection against the harmful effects of full-spectrum solar radiation including slowing down skin (photo)aging. 7
"Polypodium leucotomos - An Overview of Basic Investigative Findings” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5189711/
"Tomatoes protect against development of UV-induced keratinocyte carcinoma via metabolomic alterations” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506060/
“Why we love lutein for UV protection (and you should too)” https://vitamedica.com/wellness-blog/why-we-love-lutein-for-uv-protection-and-you-should-too/
"The Protective Role of Astaxanthin for UV-Induced Skin Deterioration in Healthy People—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6073124/
"Protective Mechanisms of Green Tea Polyphenols in Skin” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390139/
"Protective effect of pomegranate derived products on UVB-mediated damage in human reconstituted skin” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004287/
"Skin Protective Activity of Silymarin and its Flavonolignans” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470681/