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Question:
Do any supplements help prevent sunburn or skin damage from sun exposure?

Answer:
Supplements containing beta-carotene, cocoa, vitamin C, and/or vitamin E may provide modest protection from sun damage to the skin, according to small studies. There is also some preliminary evidence that a branded fern extract (Fernblock/Heliocare) may be helpful. Certain herbal supplements, however, may actually increase photosensitivity. Get the Full Answer >>


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Henri15174   June 20, 2017
Remarkably, on a cruise, a few years back, I found that Aztaxanthin effectively prevented me from getting sunburn until I overdid it....when spent hours on deck without sunscreen the day after I spent a reasonable time outside without being sunburned. It is an effective protector but you cannot expect to do what I did and think anything will save you from being burned. Still, though, I wasn't burned as much as I deserved to be for my ridiculously long uncovered exposure at peak sun.

ConsumerLab.com   June 20, 2017
There is some very preliminary evidence that astaxanthin may reduce damage from UV radiation. Better studies are needed, however. For details about this, see the "What It Does" section of our Astaxanthin Review at https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/Astaxanthin-Supplements-Review/Astaxanthin/#whatitdoes.

kevin 15206   June 25, 2017
I work outside in the gardens in the summer and I use Asta. for years now and I can tell you that it is the best for UV protection from the inside out. I take 12mg a day and this seems the optimal best to take.

Tod15209   June 25, 2017
Please be aware that they dose you indicate taking is much larger than that which has been taken in clinical studies for this use, as noted in the Astaxanthin Supplements Review at https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/Astaxanthin-Supplements-Review/Astaxanthin/#sun

Tracy15220   June 28, 2017
Thanks for sharing, Kevin. Just to chime in and affirm... I have fair skin and want to share that 12mg daily works wonders for me in terms of extended bright sunlight exposure. Love this targeted supplement solution. I've been using it for this purpose for several years. My freckles still come out, but I don't burn nearly as readily. I can literally extend my exposure by at least 2X.

Beverly15169   June 19, 2017
I am fair skinned, live in Hawaii, and am a surfer. For various reasons, I no longer use sunscreen, but avoid sunburn with other methods. On the rare occasions when I know those methods will be inadequate, I use a polypodium leucotomos product, and it totally works for me. My exposure is usually only and hour or two, but it is in the mid-day sun at 22ยบ latitude, and normally I would redden in 20 minutes and be burned in an hour.

However, Polypodium leucotomos was recommended to me by my family doctor, who is herself a surfer. She and others to whom she's recommended it, who all have significantly longer exposure times than I normally do, have also found it to be highly effective.

ConsumerLab.com   June 22, 2017
Thanks for sharing your experience with this product, Beverly. We've added some additional information about this extract (sold as Fernblock/Heliocare) in the answer above.

Judith15140   June 18, 2017
What about PABA? It used to be listed as an ingredient in topical sunscreens, but fell out of favor. I used to take 500 mg/day for about a month before hot weather, never got burned.

ConsumerLab.com   August 18, 2017
Hi Judith - Thank you for sharing your experience. PABA has been used topically to help prevent sunburn, but we are not aware of any studies on taking PABA orally for sun protection. Also, please be aware that PABA may interfere with some medications, and there are safety concerns with taking daily doses above 400 mg -- see the Encyclopedia article about PABA for details: https://www.consumerlab.com/tnp.asp?chunkiid=21831

Lee9748   May 30, 2016
If it's too late and you're burned, I've found that piercing a vitamin E capsule and rubbing the oil from it on the burn will dramatically lessen the pain and blistering from the burn. I was burned on both legs and put oil on one leg and not the other. The oiled leg was close to normal the next day, but the other was red and painful for 2-3 days. It's not the best-smelling solution, but it does work.

fred9740   May 29, 2016
Astaxanthin absolutely works to prevent sunburn, a Japanese study confirms it. I have been using it for three years now and I no longer get sunburned while doing normal things in the yard and forgetting to limit my time. I don't try to push it, but every year prior to starting on 8mg dose I would get a sunburn, because of just forgetting to get out of the sun for whatever reason. It has many other benefits, but astaxanthin REALLY works and it is reasonable priced.

Craig9735   May 29, 2016
I was a towhead in my youth, and m still fair skinned. In my youth (until age 55 or so) I could never tan. I went straight to red, then straight back. In my mid 50's I starrted supplements of Alpha Lipoic Acid and CoQ10 about 100 mg each for other reasons. I found out that: A) No more chapped lips, no lip balm for about 15 years and B) I could sunbathe at will without sunburn, I could actually get a tan (wow). BUT ultimately there was skin damage, maybe because I went to extreme. I quit after two seasons.

Kenneth8093   November 22, 2015
I have been taking astaxanthin for several years. I decided to conduct my own test re: its sunburn protective effect. In August I was at Laguna Seca Raceway enjoying some autoracing. I had already applied sunscreen to my face and neck but no where else. At 11 AM I removed my shirt. About every 15 minutes or so I visually checked my shoulders for signs of inflammation. I continued until about 1:15 at which time I figured I'd better not push my luck so I put my shirt back on. Normally without some sort of protection I would start to pinken after about 20 minutes. After an hour I'd be red and after two hours would have a full-on sunburn. But the day after my little experiment, which is when any burn would be obvious, there wasn't the slightest sign. The claims for most supplements have to be taken on faith, as it is difficult to conduct one's own study. However in this case I had objective evidence of its effectiveness which was quite gratifying.

Carolyn6909   August 26, 2015
I have heard that L Tyrosine also helps reduce damage from the sun. Is that true? I didn't know about the others and I do take astaxanthin. I have been taking pycnogenol for tinnitis. I am very fair skinned and so far have not had a sunburn this year. I do live in Colorado so am exposed to the sun.

John6877   July 22, 2015
Asthazanthin is your go to supplement that protects from photo aging UVA/UVB rays. It's been called: the internal sunscreen.

Mike9737   May 29, 2016
How much should your daily intake be for those results?

ConsumerLab.com   June 1, 2016
Hi Mike - Please see the paragraph about astaxanthin above for dosage.

X-tine1740   May 28, 2015
I recall reading about Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark) and sun protection. Is there any merit to these claims?

ConsumerLab.com   May 29, 2015
Hi X-tine - Yes, please see the link about pine bark extract that we've added to the answer above.

Phyllis1734   May 27, 2015
What about sun damage like the brown, spots on the skin for aging people? Can you include this in your answer?

ConsumerLab.com   May 29, 2015
Hi Phyllis - Although most of the studies discussed above did not address brown spots or age spots, there was one study that found pine bark extract (linked in the answer above) decreased the color of age spots in women age 60 or younger.

Elizabeth9742   May 30, 2016
Pantothenic Acid is, in my experience, good to take when you are going to be out in the sun.

Thomas9747   May 30, 2016
Try DMAE.

This CL Answer initially posted on 6/18/2014. Last updated 8/8/2017.

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