Natural Ways to Protect Skin from Sun Damage
Skin damage occurs when the sun’s rays activate enzymes that form free radicals, which in turn destroy the collagen and elastin that give skin its strength and rebound quality.
While skin aging is a natural process, there are also various natural ways, internal and external, to treat and slow it down. These measures can benefit anyone, especially otherwise vibrant Baby Boomers, who as they approach their senior years, want to look as young and beautiful as they feel inside, for both work and social interaction.
Much of the skin damage that comes with aging occurs as a result of exposure to the sun and solar radiation. To help prevent this damage, you should time your outdoor activity properly; make good use of shade, umbrellas, hats and high-SPF clothing; and, having done that, apply safe sunscreens such as zinc and titanium.
Skin damage occurs when the sun’s rays activate enzymes that form free radicals, which in turn destroy the collagen and elastin that give skin its strength and rebound quality. This process results in thinning and wrinkling of the skin, as well as lost elasticity.
A proper diet, however, will supply the amino acids, minerals and other nutrients required for building collagen, and recent studies show that antioxidants taken by mouth and applied to the skin offer some protection against sun damage.
A study published just last month in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology concluded that astaxanthin-loaded oleoresin and algae extract, applied topically, have antioxidant properties that could protect the skin from photoaging.
Research also indicates that astaxanthin, lutein and other anthocyanins—found in members of the broccoli family, such as kale—protect the eyes, and likely the skin as well, against antioxidants. These vegetables and their supplement equivalents should be part of any diet intended to slow photoaging.
A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine reported that a nano-delivered extract from palm kernel oil, applied to the skin, had antioxidant properties that could protect against oxidative damage.
Finally, it is well established that vitamin C and certain bioflavonoids, such as proanthocyanidins, help protect the skin from the aging effects of sun damage. Vitamin C and bioflavonoids have also been shown to protect the blood vessels, preventing all sorts of related issues, from easy bruising to heart disease. Albert Szent-Györgyi, who won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of vitamin C, wrote about the capillary-protective effects of that vitamin and bioflavonoids in the 1950s
I work with these and other anti-aging methods in my practice, Integrative Medicine and Dermatology. I see patients Mondays and Wednesdays at Advanced Dermatology in Manhattan (212.722.2441), and Tuesdays and Thursdays at my office in New Rochelle (914.637.0908).