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The One Extra Step To Add To Your Routine To Help Manage Sun Damage

June 4, 2020

SPF is the foundation for any sun care routine. But it's not the only step—in fact, to truly protect your skin from the effects of UV damage, you need to be getting enough antioxidants.  

Why do antioxidants play such a large role in sun care? Allow us to explain.

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The one extra step you need in your sun care routine. 

SPF is an important part of sun care as it's the product that is actually able to shield your skin cells from the rays. However, some of that ultraviolet radiation does get through—especially if you don't reapply regularly or apply enough of the product to begin with. And the UVs that get through trigger free radicals and oxidative stress—also known as the things that cause premature aging. 

Sunscreens may not protect your skin from all forms of photodamage, either. You can get photodamage from UVA and UVB (what most sunscreens protect you from), but also UVC, the visible light spectrum (blue light, for example), and infrared light. And at present, sunscreen ingredients don't provide protection against these other wavelengths. 

That's where antioxidants come into play. If you can't physically block these rays, you can at least manage the free-radical damage that comes with them: Antioxidants' primary role is to neutralize these hazardous little molecules that wreak havoc on the body. 

By ingesting antioxidant-rich foods and supplements, you can provide your body with the much-need tools it requires to keep your skin healthy and help deal with the effects of photodamage.* But some do this better than others. Case in point: astaxanthin.

The carotenoid has an impressive ability to help skin manage photodamage1, as one scholarly review of the antioxidant explained that numerous comparative studies of astaxanthin and other antioxidants showed it was the superior antioxidant in promoting dermal fibroblasts (or what helps make skin cells, elastin, and collagen).*

How much superior, you ask? The free-radical-fighting effect of astaxanthin is up to 1,000 times higher2 than that of many of its fellow antioxidants.* "If taken orally, [astaxanthin] has been shown to manage skin damage caused by the sun," board-certified dermatologist Kautilya Shaurya, M.D., explains to mbg about antioxidants' role in sun care.* 

The takeaway.

You may not think of a supplement as part of your overall sun care routine, but you should. By giving your body antioxidants, potent ones, you can help your skin deal with the aftermath of sun damage that SPF can't provide. So remember to layer on sunscreen and take your supplements, and you'll have glowing skin for longer. 

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Alexandra Engler
Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director

Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.