Antioxidants: The Sunscreen Sidekick Your Skin Needs

Most of us know that the use of an SPF can reduce the risk of skin cancer and prevent premature skin ageing. But did you know that antioxidants can increase the effectiveness of your sun protection?

Sun protection is not fail-safe

Sunscreens are great, but they don’t offer 100% protection against the sun’s harmful rays. A sunscreen with SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV rays, while SPF 30 prevents 97% and SPF 50 or higher stops about 98%. In addition, most people do not apply sun protection often enough or in the right quantities to be adequately protected.

The remaining UV radiation that penetrates your skin generates free radicals that can damage the skin and accelerate the ageing process. You may not be able to see or feel it, but your skin is being damaged at a much deeper level and the effects will only become visible in the future. This does not mean that sun protection is ineffective or that you should not use it (it is proven without doubt to help protect your skin from sun damage), but even superheroes need a little help every now and then!

Antioxidants come to the rescue

Antioxidants can help compensate for the shortcomings of sun protection (and faulty application). Antioxidants neutralise the free radical damage caused by exposure to the sun. In addition, antioxidants help protect your skin against other sources of free radicals, such as blue light from digital devices. Without intervention, this damage can cause all sorts of unwelcome skin problems.

Many antioxidants also offer skin-soothing properties (pollution leads to stressed skin). They are also used to stabilise sunscreen formulations, while also increasing their efficacy.

Simply put: antioxidants boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen and ensure maximum protection, while also repairing any skin damage that may have been caused.

How and when should you apply SPF-boosting antioxidants?

The easiest way to benefit from improved protection is by applying a sunscreen (or day cream with SPF) formulated with antioxidants. Do this consistently: every morning, as the last step of your skincare routine.

Alternatively, you can use an antioxidant serum before applying your SPF. For maximum benefit, you may also want to use a night cream rich in antioxidants which will help to repair any sun damage while you sleep. Don’t worry about applying too many antioxidants, your skin can never have too many!

All of the above will help to defend your skin and keep it supple, healthy and radiant-looking.

Which antioxidants are the best?

When it comes to antioxidants, the more, the merrier. There is no single best antioxidant, instead there are hundreds of fantastic antioxidants that complement and enhance the benefits of sun protection. The following list contains a small selection of antioxidants backed by extensive research proving that they counter the negative effects of UV rays:

  • coffee fruit extract
  • ferulic acid
  • glutathione
  • green tea
  • kiwifruit extract
  • superoxide dismutase
  • ubiquinone
  • vitamin C & E (all forms)
  • extract of white tea leaves
  • wild cherry fruit extract

This is just the tip of the iceberg for SPF-boosting antioxidants, there are many more to explore!

References for this information:

  • Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, August 2016, pages 34–39
  • European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, October 2015, pages 79–89
  • Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, November 2014, pages 36–40
  • Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, June 2014, pages 71–77
  • Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, November 2012, pages 1013–1024; and September 2008, pages 418–425
  • Skincancer.org

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