Quick look at 10 oral antioxidants for sun protection

Thank you for sharing all your beauty resolutions in 2012! Keep them coming for I thoroughly enjoyed reading them! Of the many comments I’ve read, I noticed a number of you wanted to improve your beauty from inside out by having a healthier diet. A number of you even mentioned taking supplements and this is an area I’m very interested in as based on experience, I realized that taking the right supplement can really help improve our skin condition. Recently, I’ve been reading up more about the photoprotective role of oral antioxidants and here, I’m going to share with you some research data on 10 of them.

Antioxidants are molecules that scavenge free radicals and hence, can help prevent ultraviolet-induced damage to skin – yes, protect your skin from those unsightly brown spots! The following antioxidants have been shown to protect skin against damage in scientific studies:

1. Beta-Carotene
Researchers have found that beta-carotene supplements have been shown to protect against sunburn, based on a minimum of 10 weeks of supplementation. So the conclusions is that beta-carotene supplements may protect against sunburn in a time-dependent manner. (source)

2. Selenium
Research by Roddie McKenzie, Senior Lecturer in Dermatology at the University of Edinburgh suggests that selenium reduces damage to skin cell membranes following exposure to ultraviolet light and the protection is greatest if a selenium antioxidant is taken before exposure to UV irradiation. (source)

3. Lutein
Epidemiological studies support a role for diets high in lutein and decreased risk of wrinkling and cancer. Recent intervention studies have shown lutein to prevent ultraviolet-induced carcinogenesis in animals and to improve skin physiology parameters in humans, including antioxidant protection from ultraviolet light irradiation. (source)

4. Zeaxanthin
Data demonstrate that oral supplementation of lutein and zeaxanthin diminishes the effects of ultraviolet B irradiation by reducing acute inflammatory responses and ultraviolet-induced hyperproliferative rebound. (source)

5. Lycopene
Lycopene supplement can enhance the natural protective qualities of the skin against UV and visible light over a period of time but it might seem that fresh sources of food like e lycopene-rich carrot juice have better photoprotective effect. (source)

6. Pycnogenol
Pycnogenol can be extracted from the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster). It contains flavonoids and phenolic compounds, which act as potent free-radical scavengers. Oral supplementation of Pycnogenol was shown to help prevent UV damage and the resulting photoaging. Pycnogenol also inhibits the inflammation caused by UV-exposure, consequently protecting the skin from sunburn. (source)

7. Fernblock
This is an extract obtained from the fern Polypodium leucotomos and is used in Heliocare, a sun protection supplement, to provide antioxidant and radical scavenging capacities. (source)

8. Omega-3s From Fish Oil
Skin cells receiving omega-3s were also found to be more resistant to UV damage and wrinkles as polyunsaturated fatty acids have been proven to reduce UV sensitivity. (source)

9. Vitamin C + E
Oral supplementation with vitamin C and vitamin E are often said to provide our skin protection against UV radiation but they have to be taken in high dosage. If you want better protection, you can take both vitamins with carotenoids although the sun protection factor was relatively small compared to topical sunscreens. (source)

10. Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin is a nutrient that is found in a type of marine microalgae called Haematococcus pluvialis. Interestingly, I’ve been reading various sources, including customer testimonies that Astaxanthin exhibited a pronounced photoprotective effect and countered all of the UVA induced alterations to a significant extent. (source)

Your personal choice
There could be other antioxidants that are available but I have not covered here so feel free to add if you know of them. I also know some of you prefer to obtain your antioxidants from fresh food and so do I. However, the reason I look into supplements is because some of these antioxidants are not available in my food source. So like I always emphasize, it’s a personal choice. In addition, you also have to take your own state of health into consideration when you’re looking at consuming such supplements. When unsure or uncomfortable, the best policy is to avoid.


  1. Viv. A says:

    I would like to add zinc supplements. They are helpful for skin issues such acne. I also take propolis bee supplements, but not for beauty sake. I take them to make my inmune system stronger. I have a little bit of respiratory issues due to allergies, so propolis have become very helpful to me!

  2. blueroses says:

    my skin doctor once prescribed me supplements to improve my skin – it’s a multi-vit containing Zinc and Vit C, E and it does make a difference! She mentioned though I should get the better grade/higher dosage ones and not to buy those selling in GNC/Watsons/Guardians (though I’m not sure if it’s because she needs to generate sales for her clinic :X). I got GNC woman-mega multi-vits and they seem to work fine?

    The same doctor also prescribed Heliocare capsules and sunscreen. Strangely enough, she used to prescribe Himalaya Neem herbal supplements before as well – I don’t know but I find that a little bizarre – and you can just buy it in Watsons).

    I’m thinking to try Fancl or DHC supplements one of these days. The Japanese seem big on hyaluronic acid, co-enzymes Q10 and collagen. Any thoughts on these?

  3. Kim says:

    Personal experience with Himalaya Neem herbal supplements – I took one bottle (30 caps I think) and it really really dried up my skin! It took me a whole year to restore it after that.
    I generally will stay off supplements because I feel that I prefer to get it through my food and also with all the marketing gimmicks and cost-cutting measures, it’s hard to tell the quality and source of the ingredients.

  4. Diane says:

    i usually buy some supplements but have not been good at taking it daily ? I have fish oil, squalene, calcium and collagen but do not take them at all! such a waste ? i should add this in my resolution: clear up all my supplements by taking them daily and do not buy too much supplements! ?

  5. Audris says:

    I’m taking fish oil and Vit C. Didn’t know fish oil is an antioxidant too, that’s good to hear ?

  6. sesame says:

    Yes, I wasn’t aware that it can help protect against sun sensitivity. But I forgot to add Krill Oil – it is better cos it contains Astaxanthin.

  7. sesame says:

    Try to take them. I used to buy a few but now, I’m sticking to two mainly.

  8. sesame says:

    Oh what a shame! It actually took you one whole year to restore your skin? I’ve not seen it around…must peel my eyes open.

  9. sesame says:

    The combination she prescribe is good for UV damage prevention. And zinc also helps those with acne issues. I’m not sure about better grades…I think there are better grades but it’s a bit hard to tell unless we know which manufacturer/brand are good. I usually rely on recommendations.

    Heliocare is very good as an internal sunblock but it’s so expensive! So I don’t get them anymore. Fancl and DHC supplements are better for collagen building or keeping the skin firm if I’m not mistaken. Not sure about whitening properties or protection from UV damage.

  10. Mandy says:

    Wow this is interesting! It would be cool if you can feature how to get these in natural food sources!

  11. sesame says:

    Zinc is good…was taking it for awhile when I had acne issues but stopped since. Never taken propolis bee but I’m sure it’s good for health.

  12. EcoBeauty says:

    supplements do work! but unfortunately, it takes a lot of discipline to take them regularly. I’ve taken both FANCL and Hakubi’s whitening supplements and they did help although HAKUBI seemed to have more effect on me. I stopped though ’cause I didn’t feel comfortable taking things like that long term.

    Liver supplements help brighten the skin, too. When I used to take NAC regularly, my skin was brighter and more even.

  13. Pollya says:

    I’m open to taking supplements, but like you said, it’s not so easy to determine which are the really good/reliable brands. I’ve had some recommendations from friends, which I trust, but then again, when they are good brands (i.e. “higher grade” than Watsons/Guardian/GNC sort), it usually means they come with a fairly hefty price tag!! So in the end I’m put off by the cost, cos I think if I can’t sustain taking them long-term (not sustainable on my pocket that is), what’s the point of starting at all? So at the end of the day, I go back to trying to get the most out of my daily diet.

  14. Audris says:

    I was on Krill Oil for about 3 months, but find Fish Oil more sustainable for my budget and fish oil has helped a lot with my menstrual cramps.

  15. Nika says:

    From time to time I use some supplements, but not regularly. So I can not really tell are they working or not.
    Last summer I tried Heliocare and didn’t see any difference on my skin after finishing a whole bottle. Actually, for the first time in my life, I’ve got freckles. I don’t say it is because of Heliocare, but who knows? I also ate a lot of tomatoes because of the lycopene. Well, I always eat lots of it because I love it.
    I take omega-3 supplement lately, I am on my second bottle. Also tried collagen.

  16. sesame says:

    Well, actually not too much work…provided you’re not taking a few. Opt for those where you take once or at most twice a day.

  17. sesame says:

    The ones sold locally are very expensive! Now, I’m getting my supplies from iHerb via sprees. Much, much cheaper.

  18. sesame says:

    Oh yes, Fish Oil helps with PMS. But for some reasons, I can no longer take it…it caused me to break out.

  19. sesame says:

    Hmm…Heliocare works for us and I know because my husband took it and even burn even after going under hot sun. But I suppose it might vary in effects for different pple.

  20. shah2031 says:

    ayurvedic supplements seem to agree with my eczema-prone skin. have been taking himalaya’s neem capsules for 6 years now. in the past year, i added their daily health capsules – their version of multivitamins. in addition, i take evening primrose oil. three supplements per day is my limit, any more than that, i know i’ll start slacking off, which would just defeat the purpose ?

  21. Jyoan says:

    How about collagen? I have been hesitating about this one because collagen is a big molecule, and no matter what form they make it in, chances are, collagen is never going to reach the skin. Collagen will first go to muscles and heart, because they are priority tissues.

    However, there are so many collagen drinks around, like DHC and Meiji, and many people taking them… … Not sure what to think.

  22. sesame says:

    I didn’t cover that cos I’m only looking at those those offer sun protection antioxidant properties.

    But, I am taking AFC collagen pills and they seem to work for me! Actually, I find they work despite what docs say.

  23. sesame says:

    Yes, true…too many to take and you’ll find them a chore. I’m taking two, no three types actually but two of them are once-a-day dosage so it’s easier.

  24. MarcieMom says:

    My baby has eczema and I’m also mindful of feeding her right for her skin. From young, she tries at least one new fruit/vege weekly and now loves vege. Her eczema is improving and I started a support group for parents in Singapore. Catch up if u can!

  25. Miss Vinny says:

    I don’t mind taking supplements but I stopped since a while ago as I realised I might be over-consuming some of the nutrients and damaging my body(bones, eyesight, lungs, liver, etc.) in the long run. I’m going to try breaking or cutting some of my “hard tablets” into half instead and take only half a pill per day. I’m thinking of zinc and some of those vitamin pills readily available in other food sources. I also need to finish my fish oils… lol.

    Btw, I read somewhere that using an oil cleanser + foaming cleanser on my face might be harsh and all the more so, for sensitive + oily +eczema and blah blah troubled type of skin(too long to type out the details). However, I often use that combo for removing waterproof sunscreen more effectively. Since this combo is drying, would prepping the skin with multiple hydrosols and serums work? I can never tell when my face will erupt into another round of skin issues and many moisturisers will worsen the issue.

  26. sesame says:

    Hmm…that’s a good point and that’s why I cut down too. I used to be taking an all-in-one supplement and it was good but just too ex! So now, I take 3 and they are mainly for my skin. But one of them is helpful for maintaining overall health too.

    Oil cleanser can be drying and I did write about that. My preference is actually using cream cleanser + foaming cleanser. If you haven’t encountered problems using the oil cleanser & foaming cleanser, then don’t worry too much. If your foaming cleanser does not contain SLS and it does not make your skin feel dry, then I don’t see an issue really. Sometimes I think less is more…use one hydrosol and one serum and at most, one moisturizer.

  27. sesame says:

    I see…it’s true that the right kind of food can alleviate her condition. Great to know she loves vege cos children can fuss about these things.

  28. Destiny says:

    I have been taking NeoCell Super Collagen and hyaluronic acid capsules for three years. I have noticed these are much less expensive than Asian ones yet high quality. For example their hyaluronic acid is pure and natural, not the lab made sodium hyaluronate. Collagen and ha firm and plump the skin, and keep moisture in. Also great for eye and joint health. You can read over 500 reviews for NeoCell Super Collagen on iherb…people like it!

  29. Miss Vinny says:

    Ugh, well… all-in-one supplements are often very pricey and same for some of those “single supplements”. Plus, some of them contain the cheaper and less stable form of “vitamins”(can’t remember which, unfortunately) where the cost of raw materials is so low, the markup must be at least 200% to 600% or even more. On a side note: that’s what I discovered about my skimmed milk(Nestle nesvita) which has been causing me to get stomach aches from time to time and I’m not even really lactose intolerant! As in: I can even drink multiple cups of fresh milk or take ice-cream but what? Maybe I AM lactose intolerant though… lol.

    Hmm, then I think I’ll skip out on mixing the German Chamomile and Immortale hydrosols when they arrive from the spree. I heard people with eczema and poor skin conditions usually use both in conjunction to control their problems but maybe you’re right… I shouldn’t use so many products on my skin! Btw, have you ever experimented with adding a bit of preservatives to your hydrosols, to make them last longer?

    Man, having combination skin is a challenge. Now, time to get a new moisturiser.

  30. sesame says:

    I remember you recommended that (or another brand I cannot remember) but I didn’t order it. Instead, thanks to you, I’m taking an Astaxanthin supplement now. Just ordered a second bottle of another brand. Will blog about my experience next year. ?

  31. sesame says:

    Oh if you’re mixing, then it’s okay I guess. Try in small batches and see what works for you. I never added preservatives to my hydrosols…just leave them in the fridge. But yes, with some preservatives, they’ll last much longer even if left in the open at room temperature. I have one that I forgot to use from the beginning of the year and now using it without problems.

    I have combination skin…but my skin isn’t sensitive like yours I guess so it’s easier to manage.

    As for all-in-one supplement, I actually have quite good results just taking Centrum, which is cheap. It wasn’t too bad but this one I’m lazy to take. ?

  32. Miss Vinny says:

    Oh? What preservatives did that hydrosol contain? Citric acid? Vitamin E? That’s a good suggestion to mix in small batches. Guess I can putting them into those empty nipple bottles. Daiso Sponge cleaner comes to the rescue again!

    Good that the Centrum tablet worked for you.

    Btw, any 2 to 3 brands you would recommend for silicon-free serums? I’ve been told repeatedly, to try those over moisturisers since they’re more lightweight and less chances of clogging my skin. Since I’m a blur queen and slow coach, I’ve never bothered to really use them.

    Something not more than $30 to $50 ‘cos otherwise, if I can’t use it, it’ll just decorate my drawers. Or maybe I should just wait for another GOW spree… lol. To be honest, there are too many organic and non-organic brands on the market right now and it’s all making my head spin. >.< It's so hard telling which brands actually have really good ingredients from those with only 2 to 3 useful ingredients.

  33. Pollya says:

    Have you tried vitacost before Sesame? I find that a lot of the items there are cheaper than iHerb (some quite a lot cheaper!), and their international shipping is pretty reasonable — USD6.99 for something like up to 3 lbs weight [I can’t remember the exact figure and I think they’ve removed this info from their website, but the last time I ordered (just few weeks ago), I got something like 5 different tubes of hand/body lotions and 1 bottle of supplements and it was still this shipping price; anyway there is a shipping calculator you can use before you check out], and I find that this shipping works out comparable (or even cheaper!) to sprees where you have to pay the shared-out international shipping costs, handling fees, and local postage. Plus the package might take longer to reach you when you order via a spree cos a middle party is involved.
    Anyway, it’s just for your consideration ? Vitacost also has a HUGE range of products.

  34. sesame says:

    It’s the MVO Anti-Aging Face Mist and they use Cosmocil CQ.

    I understand that having many choices can cause you more headaches…I limit to natural brands, not necessarily organic but as long as they are mostly botanical. A’Kin is not bad so maybe you want to take a look at their products. They’re in the price range you mentioned too. If you really want better ones, then try Mukti. I tried their moisturizer and find it quite lightweight. Price is higher but the ingredients are rather good stuff and a little bit will last quite awhile.

  35. sesame says:

    No, but I was looking at it recently. The reason why I don’t order there is because my iHerb orders are via sprees. They don’t offer PayPal options and I no longer like to order via credit cards due to some bad experience so that’s the reason I only order through sprees. The iHerb sprees I joined were rather fast and shipping was pretty reasonable so I don’t mind. But I definitely look forward to ordering from Vitacost.

  36. Michael says:

    Good post very informative for what to look for in a supplement.
    Have you heard of betalains as a source of antioxidant?

  37. Juliet Shelley says:

    Hi Sesame! Just a little note from me in Wellington, New Zealand. How great to read your blog and your articles in Vivawoman! I am passionate about natural and organic skincare and cosmetics and I am really enjoying reading your articles.. thank you so much!..It sounds like the organic skincare and cosmetic range is increasing daily in Singapore which is so nice to hear.. I was in London the other day and was amazed to see how little organic skincare was available in the shops.. I visited the Organic Pharmacy in Covent Garden and commented on the difference between the range available to women (and men) in New Zealand compared to London…I wonder why this is? I have been using natural skincare products now for as long as I can remember mainly because I inherited a sensitive skin from my mum..being in NZ is proving a blessing in that way because of the range available here. It is great to read that women in Singapore have the opportunity to give their skin a chemical free, non toxic, non GMO experience…the skin is the biggest organ of the body so it deserves the best! Warm wishes, Juliet Shelley

  38. sesame says:

    Wow, it’s so nice that you were in London to check out the products. Last time I was there, I had no interest in natural/organic skincare yet. I am not too familiar with Organic Pharmacy (very expensive) and have no idea why the difference between the range in NZ and London…it might be a marketing reason or special regulations?

    We do have more selections of late but it’s still a very niche market here and many are turned off by the higher price. So I wish that more brands would be introduced to bring across competition so that we can benefit with the lower pricing.

  39. Ami says:

    Also Pomegranate Extract boosts the efficacy of sunblock

  40. harriet says:


    other than my preventive meds, i also use nurtriant from “one life usa”
    I use Greenridge facial care but I am a biggy on sfs . Instead of using my usual spf 30%…..would Astaxanthin clash w/other things i might be taking…also, i might it loose its potency..I take RX’s in the morning; the neutrients at lunch time

  41. sesame says:

    Okay, I have no idea about “conflicts” if you take other med so it’s best to seek professional advice on this. I take this now primarily, along with probiotics and nothing else. To me, Astaxanthin works like fish oil, just more potent.

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