The number of sunscreen products on the market leaves consumers with a lot of options to choose from – but now there are more new products, and that can make selecting the right one difficult.
To help you select the best product to protect you from the sun, the American Academy of Dermatology recently spoke with an expert to help make sense of all the options out there – old and new.
Some new sun protection products that have come on the scene recently are sunscreen pills and yes, drinkable sunscreen.
At Dermatology Associates P.C. of Norwood, Foxboro and Franklin, our staff can help you protect your skin from the sun and treat your skin for problems the sun can cause. Contact Dermatology Associates today to learn more or schedule a visit.
The American Academy of Dermatology recently interviewed
Dr. Henry W. Lim, the Livingood Chair and chairman of the dermatology department at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Here are some excerpts.
Q.) Can sunscreen pills be taken instead of using traditional topical sunscreen products?
Dr. Lim said that taking pills may appear to be a more convenient method to protect your skin, but tried and true methods of sun protection remain the most reliable methods.
These methods include seeking shady spots, wearing clothing that protects you from the sun and using a water-resistant sunscreen. The SPF should be at least 30.
As for the ingredients in sunscreen pills, Lim said the best research is related to Polypodium leucotomos, which is an extract from a fern plant native to Central America. He said studies indicate fern extract increases the time it takes skin to burn after it’s exposed to ultraviolet light.
Lim said it remains unclear precisely how sunscreen pills work, but the general belief is that the Polypodium leucotomos serves as an antioxidant and protects skin from damage caused by overexposure to the sun.
Lim said sunscreen pills cannot be assigned a Sun Protection Factor, or SPF rating, because the product is not placed on the skin. He said studies comparing the level of protection pills offer found they have an equivalent SPF of 3 to 5.
That is dramatically less than what the American Academy of Dermatology recommends – which is an SPF of at least 30.
Lim cautioned that more research is needed to determine the best uses of sunscreen pills, and to learn more about their long-term safety.
Q.) Can I use drinkable sunscreen rather than topical sunscreen?
Dr. Lim said there is no published scientific research to support the use of drinkable sunscreen.
Q.) Does diet play a role in sun protection?
Dr. Lim said it is unknown whether diet impacts sun protection. He noted that studies have found sun protection is offered by green tea extracts that are applied to the skin, but that no study has been performed to show whether drinking green tea offers skin protection.
Lim said vitamins C and E may offer skin protection from sun damage, but he does not recommend using the supplements for sun protection. He said high doses of the supplements can offer some protection, but that the doses are dramatically higher than what is recommended, and it remains unclear if those doses pose health risks over time.