Why Your Sunscreen Is Failing You

Marie Parks

It's summer. We finally get to escape the indoors we’ve been hibernating in during the cold and dark winter months. For many of us, it's also time to grab our sunscreens and towels and step outside for some extra fun in the extra hot sun.

And while a bronze skin glow may be desirable right now, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be in the long run.

Truth is, unprotected sun exposure is actually causing your skin to age faster and increasing your risk for skin-related diseases. Applying sunscreen is the first step of protecting ourselves, but it’s often not enough.

Why Most Sunscreen Isn't Sufficient

Even if sunscreen is applied as instructed (30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied at least every two hours), there are still parts of our bodies that remain vulnerable to damage from UV rays such as your eyelids, lips, and scalp.

As implied by a recent survey, only 18% of the respondents knew the correct amount of sunscreen that has to be applied, which means that the actual protection we’re getting is less than what the label indicates.1

Also, not many of us think to apply sunscreen on non-sunny days. Despite the dreariness, sun damage can still occur. In fact, lots of the UV rays can penetrate light cloud cover.2

Most sunscreens don’t protect against the short UVB and long UVA waves, and none protect against damaging infrared radiation. It’s good to protect one type of radiation, but if full spectrum protection doesn’t take place, damage can still occur.3-5

A Tropical Fern Serves As a Sunscreen From the Inside Out

A tropical fern known as Polypodium leucotomos contains a high percentage of UV-protecting compounds. When taken orally, it safely boosts the skin’s natural defenses.6

How does a substance taken internally protect the various layers of the skin? Here are four main ways that sun ages our skin, all of which Polypodium leucotomos acts on:

  • Blocks the skin from changing in structure (like sagging and wrinkling). UV rays from the sun activate an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), which causes skin to sag by breaking down elastin and collagen (required for skin firmness and integrity).7,8
  • Supports and repairs youthful skin structure by stimulating the production of elastin and collagen (in addition to preventing their breakdown).9
  • Prevents skin damage by blocking lipid peroxidation and inflammation, as well as aiding in the survival of healthy skin cells.10,11
  • Decreases DNA damage and mutations associated with skin cancer caused by UV radiation.12,13
Polypodium leucotomos increases the amount of time a person can spend in the sun before the skin becomes burned, red, and inflamed which means more time to enjoy the great outdoors.14

Oranges May Enhance the Protective Effects

A complex of red oranges has the potential to provide complementary effects along with Polypodium leucotomos to guard against the aging effects of UV rays on skin by working on additional mechanisms that block the growth and development of cancer cells.15-18

B3 Battles Cancer Initiation

Vitamin B3, also known as nicotinamide, protects against UV-induced immune suppression. By guarding against DNA damage as well as inducing the repair of DNA, nicotinamide can help reduce the rate of skin cancer.19, 20,21

The Bottom Line

For optimal sun protection, we suggest taking a combination of Polypodium leucotomos, red orange, and nicotinamide in addition to applying sunscreen.

Try to cover your skin and stay in the shade if possible. And don’t forget to protect your eyes by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses. Most importantly, have fun!

References:

1. Br J Dermatol. 2009 Nov;161 Suppl 3:28-32.
2. http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/01/24/3413924.htm
3. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2014 Apr-Jun;30(2-3):167-74.
4. Free Radic Biol Med. 2003 Jul 1;35(1):59-67.
5. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2013 Dec;69(6):853.e1-12; quiz 865-6.
6. Int J Dermatol. 2015 Mar;54(3):362-6..
7. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Nov;67(5):1013-24.
8. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2009 Jun;8(2):77-82.
9. Arch Dermatol Res. 2009 Aug;301(7):487-95.
10. Exp Dermatol. 2007 Oct;16(10):823-9.
11. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 1996: 12: 4556.
12. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Dec;51(6):910-8.
13. Dermatol Online J. 2007 Jul 13;13(3):10.
14. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2016 Jan;32(1):22-7.
15. Int J Cosmet Sci. 1998 Dec;20(6):331-42.
16. J Agric Food Chem. 1999 Nov;47(11):4718-23.
17. Phytother Res. 2010 Mar;24(3):414-8.
18. Fitoterapia. 2006 Apr;77(3):151-5.
19. Carcinogenesis. 2013;34(5):1144-9.
20. Exp Dermatol. 2014;23(7):509-11.
21. Carcinogenesis. 2009;30(1):101-5.

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