When it comes to taking proper care of your skin, it doesn’t just end at a good skincare routine—though that certainly helps! What you put into yourself matters just as much, if not more, as what you put on it. Tracie Martyn co-founder and product formulator Marius Morariu is a holistic nutritionist and offers advice on eating for every skin concern.
There’s not a food in the world that will beat wearing sunscreen when it comes to protecting your skin from sun damage. That being said, when paired with SPF, food can be an incredible healer and protector for your skin. In particular, seasonal summer vegetables and fruit are especially packed with antioxidants that can help repair sun-damaged cells and protect you from UV rays. Isn't it amazing how Mother Nature always provides?
But first, what does the sun do to your skin exactly? Two types of UV light are what you need to watch out for: UVA, which is linked to aging, and UVB, which plays a greater role in sunburns and skin cancers. (Zinc oxide protects you from both.) UVA rays penetrate further into the skin and cause indirect damage to your DNA by causing free radicals, unstable molecules that result in oxidative stress. Free radicals accelerate skin aging, breaking down collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles and sagging. UVA rays are present all throughout the day—even when it’s not sunny out!—and can even pass through glass. So even if you’re staying mainly indoors, a combination of sunscreen and an antioxidant-rich diet and skincare routine can be incredibly beneficial.
Antioxidants, the “edible sunscreen”
The term “antioxidant” applies to a wide range of substances that can bind to and neutralize those damaging free radicals, thus protecting your skin. There’s strong evidence that eating certain antioxidant-rich foods gives you extra protection from UV rays (more on that in a minute!), but here’s the catch: overdoing it might actually do more harm than good, since some studies suggest that high-dose supplements of antioxidants may actually be linked to health risks. Instead, whole plant-based foods are your best bet if you want to add more antioxidants to your diet. They’re extra beneficial since they contain multiple phytonutrients, and you can’t overdo it with berries!
Watermelon and tomatoes
Practically the official fruit of summer, watermelon is just what our skin needs during the hottest months of the year. A German study found that the lycopene found in watermelon can help protect you from UV-induced sunburn, while another study found that lycopene helped decrease skin redness (a sign of damage) after sun exposure. Plus, watermelon is 90% water, and we all know how important hydration is to healthy skin.
Blueberries and strawberries
Blueberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world, so you’re definitely going to want to get your fill of summer berries. Anthocyanins, compounds that give berries their purply-blue color, in particular are powerful antioxidants that are thought to protect the skin against free radicals. Blueberries have also shown potential anti-cancer effects in lab studies.
Carrots and sweet potatoes
Carrots and sweet potatoes are extra-high in beta carotene, the red-orange pigment that gives them their vibrant color. A meta-analysis found that eating beta carotene can protect against sunburn, while another study found that it may reduce skin redness related to sun exposure. It’s been shown that the longer you supplement your diet with beta carotene, the more effective it is, so consistency is key here! Also, absorption of beta carotene is boosted through healthy oils, so a little olive oil dressing is a great thing here.
Green tea and black tea
There’s growing evidence to suggest that polyphenols in green tea are powerful antioxidants that can be used to decrease the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays. Polyphenols have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which make them incredible for your skin. To get the most benefits, drinking three cups a day spread throughout the day is probably best.
When it comes to antioxidants, the more the merrier, since they all have different benefits and functions, so celebrate the bounty that nature provides! Antioxidants can also help prevent and improve sun damage when applied topically. The Firming Serum was particularly formulated with a variety of powerful antioxidant ingredients that improve the appearance of your skin.