Exposing yourself to the sun in moderation is good as the sun is the most important source of vitamin D. The sun's rays, in fact, stimulate its synthesis. However, we must not exaggerate and, in any case, it is important to take certain precautions to protect the skin of the face that is the part of the body most exposed to sunlight. In fact, exposure to the sun's UV rays is considered one of the main factors that cause premature aging of the skin. UVA rays penetrate the tissues where they can damage collagen and elastin, causing a loss of elasticity and hydration and the formation of wrinkles. UVB rays are absorbed directly by DNA and RNA and can be the cause of cell damage, erythema, dark spot formation and increase the risk of cell degeneration (Candido et al, Nutrients, 2022). To protect the skin from UV damage there are topical treatments, such as sunscreen creams. In addition to this, the skin has internal defenses thanks to micronutrients, such as antioxidants, which counteract the damage caused by the sun's rays (Sies et al, Annu Rev Nutr, 2004). It is clear that the best protection is obtained by deploying both approaches and that in any case the diet alone cannot take the place of topical treatments. After having made this necessary premise, let's see how we can help the skin defend itself from the sun's rays with the diet. Then, we will also see some tips on how to take care of our skin from the outside.
Preparing the skin for the sun, the diet
Some substances more than others have been shown to be useful in protecting the skin from damage caused by UV rays. For example, vitamin C, which is found in large quantities in citrus fruits, and vitamin E, contained in olives, peanuts but also in cereals and avocado, have been found to be protective. Then, very interestingly, also the rosmarinic acid is beneficial. Rosmarinic acid is contained in rosemary and is antiviral, immunomodulating, but above all anti-inflammatory, antitumor and antioxidant. Studies have shown the ability of rosmarinic acid to counteract the damage caused by UVB rays (Candido et al, Nutrients, 2022). Not to forget the role of carotenoids, such as beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin. Carrot beta carotene protects the skin from erythema caused by excessive exposure to sunlight (Stahl et al, Mol Nutr Food Res, 2012). In addition to carrots, mangoes and melons also contain beta carotene, as well as vitamin C and other antioxidants. Well, studies have observed that consuming about 100 grams of mango, even frozen, four times a week for 4 months led to a significant reduction in wrinkles. Same result for melon, which has been shown to counteract the damage of UV rays (Fam et al, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2021). The combination of lutein and zeaxanthin, which can be found in green leafy vegetables, but also in pistachios and eggs, has been shown to be beneficial for skin health, making the skin radiant and more resistant to sunlight. Astaxanthin is found, for example, in krill oil pearls. Well, astaxanthin has shown an important antioxidant power, useful for counteracting cell damage, wrinkles, loss of elasticity and the formation of dark skin spots. Also noteworthy is pomegranate juice that, rich in antioxidants, counteracts the formation of dark skin spots and photo-aging and improves skin hydration (Candido et al, Nutrients, 2022). Finally, green tea, thanks to the high amount of antioxidants it brings, including epigallocatechin gallate, also plays an essential role when it comes to protecting the skin from UV rays (Fam et al, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2021).
Preparing the skin for the sun, it is also important when you eat
A very interesting study has also brought out another aspect. It is not only important what you eat but also when you eat, for the purpose of skin protection. In fact, eating often out of hours involves an alteration of our internal clock and the production of those enzymes responsible for repairing the skin from UV damage (Wang et al, Cell reports, 2017).
Preparing the skin for the sun, cosmetics
Vegetable oils sometimes have a shielding power, however, this is far too mild to protect the skin effectively. The only way to safely expose yourself to the sun is to resort to creams with a protection factor of at least 30. But, beyond this observation, certainly vegetable oils can be used as a daily treatment to strengthen the skin and prevent and counteract the photoaging. For example, in the case of non-acne-prone skin, a good help is offered by coconut oil. However, acne sufferers are best advised to avoid this vegetable oil as it can be comedogenic. Coconut oil-based treatments have shown important results already after two weeks of use, reducing wrinkles, increasing skin elasticity and counteracting inflammation that can be caused by sunlight (Pham et al, Cells, 2022). Try melting 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a double boiler, add a tablespoon of oatmeal and aloe gel as needed to obtain a creamy mixture. The aloe gel stimulates the renewal of the epidermis (Korac et al, Pharmacogn Rev, 2011). Apply to cleansed face for ten minutes then rinse. For all skin types, on the other hand, there is raspberry seed oil, with an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action thanks to the carotenoids it contains (Ispiryan et al, Plants, 2021). You can replace coconut oil with raspberry seed oil in the above recipe. The extra note? A drop of sea buckthorn oil that slows down skin aging (Zielinska et al, Lipids Health Dis, 2017). Then, very important are the scrubs, which help the skin to regenerate and counteract the damage of photoaging, also helping to prevent them. However, scrubs should only be carried out in the period preceding sun exposure and avoided from a few days before the exposure period until the end of the period in which there is more exposure to the sun, as they could worsen inflammation (Funasaka et al, Exp Dermatol, 2012). An excellent home scrub is given by brown sugar mixed with a little water and applied to the face.