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The Effects of Anti-Oxidants on Sun Damaged Skin  (Sun Damage)
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The Effects of Anti-Oxidants on Sun Damaged Skin


Recently there has been a lot of talk about the positive effects of anti-oxidants. Oxidative damage occurs when DNA, nocleid acid, protein, and lipids become oxidized due to photo-chemical reaction when UVA light is absorbed. This can result in photo-aging, showing externally as wrinkles, scaly skin, mottled pigmentation or dried skin. Anti-oxidants have been shown to protect against, and reverse some of these damages from sunlight, and is an important mechanism for plants in protecting against the harmful effects of sun exposure.

Much of the damage caused ultraviolet rays are caused by oxidation from reactive oxygen molecules. The DNA absorbs UVA (320-400nm) and UVB (290-320) light when exposed to sunlight. Most damage occurs from UVB, damaging the epidermis layer of the skin. Some of the damage is caused by UVA, which affects the dermis, blood cells, as well as the epidermis, and has a higher oxidizing effect on the surrounding cells. Cancer forming cells, caused by UVB rays can cause mutations within the DNA, which initiates tumours in the epidermis.

Anti-oxidants play an important role in protective and repair mechanisms within animals and plants. They can be produced within the skin, or consumed or applied from plants. In general, anti-oxidant effects can be categorized as deriving from enzymes, or ones that reduce the quantity of hydrogen peroxide or lipid hydroperoxide.

Topical use of anti-oxidants is still uncommon as it must meet cosmetic requirements, and also show itself to be stable. Common physiological anti-oxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, and ubiquinol. Topical anti-oxidants may have positive effects such as enhancing epidermal protection, and reducing pigment synthesis.

Plants synthesize Vitamin C, E, and flavones. These anti-oxidants, produced from plants, which rely heavily on the anti-oxidation process in protecting themselves from the harmful effects of sunlight can be beneficial.

  • Silymarin
  • Soy isoflavones
  • Tea
  • Polyphenols

Silymarin is a milk thistle extract, with silybyn being the anti-oxidant component. It has been shown to inhibit tumour development and promotion, as well as preventing lipid peroxadase. Soy isoflavones ingestion has been linked to reduction of breast cancer as well as cardiovascular diseases. It can be used orally or topically, having phytoestrogen effects, reducing menopausal symptoms. It is also an anti-inflammatory, reduces immune suppression, and also has anti-cancer effects.

Tea has long been linked to maintenance of health. The drinking of black tea can reduce the frequency of squamous cell carcinomas, and both green and black tea have been shown to reduce redness from exposure to UV light, as well as redness of the skin. There are many ongoing researches relating to combining tea with vitamin E, or in combining tea with sunscreens in reducing sun damage to the skin. Although much work still needs to be done, these show promise and potential in providing benefits.


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