Posts Tagged ‘sunburn’

Lic-Or-Ice Is The New Spring Protective Ingredient

licoriceLicorice root extract has a long history for its flavor in food and drinks as well as for its anti-inflammatory properties in medicinal preparations, but did you know that it can also play a role in promoting healthy skin?  As an active ingredient in skin care treatments, licorice root extract does double duty by lightening dark spots as a botanical alternative to hydroquinone while offering protection against UV damage.

As a skin lightener, licorice root contains a compound called glabridin which suppresses pigmentation by stalling melanin production.  It accomplishes this by hampering tyrosinase activity, the enzyme responsible for producing melanin.  For those who are not able to tolerate hydroquinone, licorice root extract offers a plant-based option with few side effects or allergic reactions.  Irritation is also rare, most likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

As protection against UV damage, new research has been focused on another of licorice root extract’s compounds called Licochalcone A, an antioxidant that has the unique ability to boost the body’s own defensive system against skin-damaging free radicals.  When the skin is exposed to daily assaults by environmental hazards, pollution and UV rays, the body’s natural defense kicks in to eliminate the free radicals that are generated.  Using a lotion containing Licochalcone A, researchers found that pretreated skin cells in a laboratory setting produced a higher amount of antioxidant molecules and, as a result, significantly fewer harmful free radicals. A subsequent study on volunteers supported those findings by showing how licorice root extract was able to protect from UV damage by stimulating the skin’s own defense system.

Another new research project that backs this concept was published in Experimental Dermatology introduces a new plant-sunscreenderived agent, which protects skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. “We found out that the antioxidant active licochalcone a, which is the main component of the root extract of the plant Glycyrrhiza inflata (Chinese Licorice), is able to protect the skin from subsequent UV irradiation damage from within by strengthening the skin’s own defense systems,” says Gitta Neufang, a researcher involved in the work from Beiersdorf AG (Hamburg, Germany). “Thus plant extracts with the described profile are able to provide a protective shield from sun exposure supporting and going beyond the action of sunscreens regarding sun protection.” Neufang and colleagues isolated human skin cells and irradiated them with solar simulated light mimicking sun exposure. They were able to show that skin cells pretreated with licochalcone a produced a higher amount of self-protecting, antioxidant molecules. Consequently, significantly fewer harmful radicals were detected in licochalone a treated human skin cells. In addition, they also conducted a study with healthy volunteers demonstrating that the application of a lotion containing Licochalcone A-rich root extract on the inner forearms for two weeks protected the skin from damage after UV irradiation.

The hope is to use licorice root extract as a means to boost the effectiveness of sunscreens. These findings show that the skin’s own defense system can be stimulated by the application of licorice extract. In combination with UV-filters this approach therefore might provide superior sun protection by not only offering physical but also biological sun protection.  No sunscreen is able to block out 100% of the sun’s damaging rays.  Even SPF 50 products only block up to 98%. Researchers are hoping to make up the 2% gap by using new information about licorice root extract to boost the body’s own defensive systems.

~ Courtesy of American Spa Magazine

Natural Sunscreen Ingredients

Thanks to an increasing body of research on the UV-protective qualities of fruits, herbs and other plant-based ingredients, sunscreen manufacturers will soon tap more than minerals and chemicals for their formulations.

Beyond resveratrol and lycopene, which have been gaining momentum as plant-based sun care for several years, new research highlights propolis, strawberries, turmeric and more.

Check out the leading contenders with this roster of ingredients showing promise both for topical and ingestible applications.

Golden serpent fern

A tropical plant found in the Americas, golden serpent fern is touted for its ability to help ease skin inflammation issues such as psoriasis. New research published this month in Alternative and Complementary Therapies shows it also has sun-protective potential, acting as an antioxidant and helping to combat effects of excessive UV exposure when taken orally. In the study, 7.5 mg/kg of a golden serpent fern extract significant reduced sun damage in individuals with light complexions.

Green tea

The same research from Alternative and Complementary Therapies showed that applying green tea extract topically and taking it internally helped to maintain skin elasticity, which sun exposure can negatively affect. Plus, drinking a 2 to 3 percent green tea beverage reduced UVB skin damage.


No longer taking a back seat to honey, beeswax and royal jelly, this resin-like material that honeybees collect from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees is gaining popularity in skin care and supplements. Next could be sunscreens. When applied to mice, a 16 percent concentration propolis cream provided an SPF 20, according to research.


We know it’s one of the healthiest antioxidant-rich foods on earth, topping the ANDI list of the most nutrient-dense fruits. But a new study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry showed that strawberry extract—rich in antioxidants anthocyanidins and anthocyanins—also may display topical skin care benefits. According to the research, at a concentration of .5 mg/ml, strawberry extract helps to protect against UV radiation and reduce DNA damage.


When ingested, caffeinated beverages such as coffee may help fight UV-related skin cancer. But you don’t need to drink it to get the benefits: A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows caffeine has UV-fighting potential when applied topically as well.

According to the research, it may help guard against certain skin cancers by inhibiting ATR, a protein enzyme in the skin, leading to 72 percent fewer cases of a form of skin cancer called squamos cell carcinomas in mice. This adds to caffeine’s other topical benefits, including helping to reduce inflammation and cellulite.


Found in the skins of grapes, some berries, raisins, peanuts and cocoa, this potent antioxidant has been gaining attention as a key antiaging ingredient for its ability to fight free-radical damage from the inside.

A more recent study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, showed that grape flavonoid antioxidants may also help prevent UVA and UVB damage when applied topically.


The main antioxidant in tomatoes, lycopene decreases inflammation and inhibits a tumor-promoting enzyme when applied to skin.

U.K. research also has reported that consuming tomato paste may protect against sunburn and sun-induced skin aging. About 5 tablespoons tomato paste with 10 grams olive oil daily to 10 volunteers for 12 weeks increased their UV protection by 33 percent, compared to 10 control subjects


This Ayurvedic spice helps to fight skin-damaging free radicals and tame inflammation. Plus, new research further supports its ability to prevent sun-related skin aging.

According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, turmeric has photo-protective qualities, plus helps increase sebum production for overall skin hydration and restoration.

Blue-green algae

In addition to impressive antioxidant and nutrient values (chlorophyll, B vitamins, beta-carotene and fatty acids), this algae also has UV-fighting potential, reports Harvard Medical School.

The reason: Blue-green algae is photosynthetic, meaning it gets energy from sunlight. Because not all sun’s rays are beneficial to blue-green algae, it filters out harmful ones, producing small molecules that shield it from solar radiation. This action is much like UV-protective ingredients used in sunscreen.

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