Which Antioxidants In Sunscreen Add Extra Sun Protection?

Having antioxidants in sunscreen is appealing, but how much do these antioxidants contribute to extra sun protection? A recent study published in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that 10 out of 12 sunscreen products claiming benefits from antioxidants have 0 additional protection from antioxidants. Instead, the majority sun protection is still from their sunscreen ingredients.

A further look at this result shows that these 10 products only have vitamin E as their antioxidant content. The two products that do provide additional protection from antioxidants both have stable vitamin C together with vitamin E.

This is not surprising because vitamin E is notoriously known for its synergistic effects together with other antioxidants, especially with vitamin C. So when you want to get antioxidant protection from a sunscreen product, please also look for other antioxidants. The antioxidants with scientific evidence showing their effectiveness against UV radiation include:

  1. Ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C)
    Products: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 30 and SPF 45, and Peter Thomas Roth Uber-Dry Sunscreen Cream SPF 30 and Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Sunblock SPF 30. All of them have oxybenzone and thus should not be used everyday in the long run.
  2. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C)
    Products: Banana Boat Kids Tear-Free SPF 30 Continuous Lotion Spray.
  3. Ascorbyl teraisopalmitate (vitmin C)
    Products: Products that contain ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (super vitamin C)
  4. Tea extract rich in polyphenols
    Products: SkinMedica Environmental Defense Sunscreen SPF 30+, Paula’s Choice Pure Mineral Sunscreen SPF 15, for Normal to Very Dry Skin, SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30.

It is likely that other antioxidants can also add extra protection to you skin but the research is limited.

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