Sunscreen with Antioxidants

In a study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, supplementation of sunscreens with efficacious antioxidants represents an effective strategy to help minimize accelerated aging and cancer in UV-exposed skin and could represent the next generation of sunscreens (15).

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, up to 80 percent of preventable aging is caused by UV exposure — and that means smoking, diet, and sleep barely matter by comparison. For the last few decades, everyone from dermatologists to beauty editors have been stressing the importance of SPF. But here’s the thing: SPF is not enough to protect you from sun damage. Sunscreens block UVA and UVB rays, but those rays only account for seven percent of solar energy. New research finds that infrared radiation, which makes up 54 percent of solar energy, also causes aging — and it might even be worse than UV rays. While there is no product that can totally guard you from infrared radiation, studies show that antioxidants in skincare may help. More and more dermatologists and skin care experts now recommend wearing an antioxidant serum and a sunscreen — and many of them believe the antioxidant is the more important half of the duo.

It is well-documented that sunscreens reduce erythema. However, their ability to also reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals in UV-exposed skin has only recently been researched (1–14). Through their ability to scavenge free radicals, antioxidants with, or without sunscreens have been found to provide extra benefits against several different types of skin damage, including: lipid peroxidation, Langerhans cell depletion, cytokeratin 15 induction, epidermal thickening, upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase-1 and matrix metalloproteinase-9 and immune supression (4, 5, 7-14). Similarly, it has previously been shown that the addition of bioconvertible antioxidants to a sunscreen lowered UV-induced reaction oxygen species (ROS) levels, compared with the sunscreen alone (20).


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  2. U Osterwalder, K Jung, M Seifert and T Herrling, Importance of UVA sun protection: A comparative analysis of different quality control methods, SÖFW 135 (9) 2–13 (2009)
  3. K Jung, M Seifert, T Herrling and J Fuchs, UV-generated free radicals in skin: Their prevention by sunscreens and their induction by self-tanning agents, Spectrochim Acta Part A 69 1423–1428 (2008)
  4. C Oresajo, M Yatskayer, A Galdi, P Folstis and S Pillai, Complementary effects of AOX and sunscreens in reducing UV-induced skin damage as demonstrated by skin biomarker expression, J Cosm Las Therap 12 157–162 (2010)
  5. Y Wu et al, Antioxidants add protection to a broadspectrum sunscreen, Clinical and Exp Dermatol 1–10 (2010)
  6. KM Hanson and RM Clegg, Bioconvertible vitamin antioxidants improve sunscreen photoprotection against UV induced ROS, J Cosm Sci 54 589–598 (2003)
  7. D Darr et al, Topical vitamin C protects porcine skin from UV radiation-induced damage, Br J Dermatol 127 247–253 (1992)
  8. C Elmets, D Singh, K Tubesing, M Matsui, S Katiyar and H Mukhtar, Cutaneous photoprotection from UV injury by green tea polyphenols, J Am Acad Dermatol 44 25–32 (2001)
  9. H Gensler and M Magdaleno, Topical vitamin E inhibition of immunosuppression and tumorigenesis induced by UV irradiation, Nutr Cancer 15 97–110 (1997)
  10. MT Lopez-Torres et al, Topical application of a-tocopherol modulates the AOX network and diminishes UV-induced oxidative damage in murine skin, Br J Dermatol 138 207–215 (1998)
  11. T Nakamura, SR Pinnell, D Darr, I Kurimot, S Itami and K Yoshikawa, Vitamin C: Abrogates, the deleterious effects of UVB radiation on cutaneous immunity by a mechanism that does not depend on TNF-a , J Invest Dermatol 109 20–24 (1997)
  12. DI Roshchupkin, M Pistsov and A Potapenko, Inhibition of ultraviolet light induced erythema by AOX, Arch Dermatol Res 266 91–94 (1979)
  13. D Steenvoorden and VH Beijersbergen, Protection against UV-induced systemic immunosuppression I mice by a singlet topical application of the AOX Vitamins C and E, Int J Radiation Biol 75 747–755 (1999)
  14. K Yuen and GM Halliday, Alpha-tocopherol, an inhibitor of epidermal lipid peroxidation, prevents UV radiation from suppressing the skin immune system, Photochem Photobio 65 587–592 (1997)