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Astaxanthin: "Internal Sunscreen"

Jun 14, 2022

Everyone loves tanned skin. How to tan but not burn? In today's article, we have some tips to save your skin in the summer!

Summer - the long-awaited season is coming. It's time for summer holidays, spent especially by the water and also in the sun. Some people love sunbathing, while others love swimming, outdoor sports, cycling or gardening. They all have one thing in common. All these activities are in the sun. To make the tan not only beautiful but also healthy, we should not forget to protect our skin - especially during summer! Keep reading, we have great tips to save your skin from the summer heat!

How Is a Tan Created?

Tanning (a change in skin pigmentation) is how our bodies protect themselves from sunburn and the negative effects of overexposure to the sun. This human protection against the sun's rays originates in the upper layer of the skin. It is the last part of the skin where the cells that gradually "mature" and thus die and leave our body. The average lifespan of these cells is 28 days. In 28 days, the entire top layer of our skin is renewed and our tan fades. Tanning is a reaction of the skin to sunlight - mainly UV radiation. There are 3 types of UV radiation:

  • UVA radiation - this radiation is not blocked by clouds, it does not cause sunburn, but penetrates deep into the skin where it contributes to the formation of free radicals and can cause long term damage to the skin.
  • UVB radiation - this radiation is blocked by clouds and activates pigment cells, which begin to produce melanin (brown to black pigment). UVB radiation is responsible for tanning, as well as sunburn and possible skin cancer.
  • UVC radiation - this radiation is not normally found on Earth because it is completely absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere.

How to Tan But Not Burn?

There are a few basic tips on how to get a healthy tan Most of us have heard or read these tips before, so let's just quickly recap:

  • Find out what your skin phototype is - how long you can stay in the sun without protection without burning.
  • Choose a face sunscreen and body sunscreen with SPF 30 and higher with broad-spectrum protection against UVB and UVA radiation.
  • Remember to apply sunscreen regularly (especially after swimming).
  • Don't forget to apply sunscreen to your nose, ears and face.
  • Use antioxidants to protect your skin when sunbathing and to remove free radicals from your body.

Tanning & Antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that help neutralize harmful free radicals and thus protect our body from oxidative damage. Free radicals weaken our immunity, have a negative effect on our skin, and also contribute to the development of various cancers. Free radicals can also damage our muscles and joints. The formation of free radicals is caused by mental and physical stress, lack of sleep and stress, among other things. It is also associated with poor lifestyle choices. They are present in our bodies pretty much all year round, not just when we sunbathe. However, it is important to know that free radicals have an important function in the human body, their task is to kill bacteria that can cause infectious diseases. Therefore, antioxidants and free radicals should be in balance. Some antioxidants our body can make itself, others we get from our diet.

During tanning, our skin cells are exposed to ultraviolet light produce bursts of free radicals that trigger aging effects such as skin sagging, wrinkles, and possible cancerous changes. Antioxidants primarily protect us from various free radicals. Their job is to neutralize harmful free radicals. Thanks to this function, they also help to protect our skin when tanning. They supply the skin with the necessary substances to keep it firm and fresh for life. They also promote the production of melanin, which gives us a beautiful and long-lasting tan. Therefore, especially in the summer, it is important to supply the body with an increased amount of antioxidants - such as Astaxanthin.

What Is Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is one of the strongest natural antioxidants that has been shown to have beneficial effects on the overall health of the body. Astaxanthin is among the most powerful and versatile marine plant antioxidants known, and as such, it has the ability to scavenge skin-damaging free radicals. It has vast ability to protect and promote healthy immune functioning, reduce cancer risk, mitigate the impact of diabesity, protect heart muscle and blood vessels, slow brain aging, and support eye health.

Most of us have come across Astaxanthin, even though we may not even know it. In fact, this antioxidant is found in, for example:

  • salmon, shrimp and lobster meat;
  • red yeast;
  • seaweed (most Astaxanthin is contained in the unicellular freshwater alga Haematococcus pluvialis);
  • and more...

Astaxanthin As SPF Sun Protection

The human body is exposed to intense sunlight, especially during the summer months, which is unfortunately harmful to our skin. UV radiation, or ultraviolet radiation, is electromagnetic waves invisible to human eyes. Prolonged exposure to UV rays results in reddening of the skin and can even lead to sunburn. Chronic exposure to UV rays can lead to skin cancer in addition to pigment spots and wrinkles. UVB rays penetrate the outer layer of the skin, resulting in sunburn, while UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, causing oxidative stress and premature skin aging.

Astaxanthin is a highly effective antioxidant that prevents cell damage from active oxygen. It is an efficient blocker of ultraviolet radiation and helps to protect the skin from UV rays and sunburn. In addition, it accelerates the healing of skin after sun damage. Taking Astaxanthin supplements (eg. Swanson Astaxanthin, Life Extension Astaxanthin) has also been shown to extend the time when the body stops resisting sun exposure and it is the sunburn that causes the skin to burn. What else? Astaxanthin is able to penetrate all layers of the skin (topical sunscreens can reach only the outermost layers), it acts as an "inner sunscreen" to protect against UVA-induced oxidative stress. This can provide potent protection against ultraviolet radiation, the most powerful environmental risk factor for skin cancer.

How to Take Astaxanthin In the Summer Months?

It's recommended to start using Astaxanthin at least 14 days before being in the sun. Taking 4 mg/day for at least 14 days greatly prolongs the time a person can spend in the sun without burning the skin. Of course, the longer you take Astaxanthin, the more intense the sun protection will be. That's not all! Human studies demonstrate that 6 mg/day of oral astaxanthin for 6-8 weeks reduces crow’s feet wrinkles, water loss, and age spot size while enhancing moisture content, elasticity, and skin texture in both men and women, particularly when combined with topical astaxanthin application.*

*Tominaga K, Hongo N, Karato M, Yamashita E. Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects. Acta Biochim Pol. 2012;59(1):43-7.

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