We are often asked “what is the best sunscreen?” The answer to this question isn’t as simple as slathering on a sunscreen. More and more research shows that sunscreen alone cannot guarantee your skin is safe from UV damage, which is why—besides using your favorite broad-spectrum sunscreen—it is best to both eat antioxidantsand apply them topically.
First, what are antioxidants? They are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals generated by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are the main cause of sun damage–like burns, premature aging, age spots–and certain skin cancers. Antioxidants are highly effective and a wonderful addition to your daily protective regime–both inside and out. Antioxidants are not substitutes for sunscreen; however, when used in combination with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, eating fresh, delicious antioxidant filled foods and topically applying antioxidant rich products can boost sunscreen’s effects. Win-win.
The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with green, purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. Plants use color like we wear sunglasses or sunscreen– the sun’s rays can damage plant’s delicate skin too and color is nature’s sunscreen. The more colorful the plant, the higher its protection from sun’s rays. When we eat plenty of these colorful foods, the dietary antioxidants can help to reduce the risk of external sun damage. We have included below some of our favorite antioxidant rich foods.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes. Let’s not forget watermelon–aka the perfect summertime fruit.
Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes
Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds
Other antioxidants that may help boost skin’s immunity against harmful rays include lycopene and zeaxanthin. If you feel you need another boost of antioxidants, dark chocolate is a great source of another worker-bee in the antioxidants family– catechins, which absorb UV light, protecting the skin while making it look younger. Ah-ha, an excuse to eat chocolate. I mean, did you even need another one?
Combine SPF and a diet that is rich in antioxidants with a daily dose of any of the following formulas for multiple layers of protection. We carry Vitamin C Brightening Facial Serum from One Love Organics, C E Ferulic from Skinceuticals, Vitamin C + E Complex from Skin Medica, and featured in our summer essentials we have Vitamin C15 Wrinkle Repair Serum from Naturopathica.