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National Sun protection day - 27th May 2024

National Sun protection day - 27th May 2024



Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland, with over 13,000 new cases diagnosed every year. The National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) expects this number to double by 2040.
Today, we know the true dangers of the sun’s rays (and those of UV tanning beds) and the carcinoma and melanoma we could be afflicted with if we lack proper protection. It was only recently that the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention designated a special day to learn about how we can protect ourselves. National Sunscreen Day Today (May 27th) .
Although sunscreen and protective clothing are the first line of defence against sun damage, a diet filled with real food, antioxidant-rich foods can also offer UV protection. Five of the best sources of sun-shielding antioxidants include tomatoes, sweet potatoes, almonds, salmon and grapes.

The FDA began regulating sunscreen in 1978. This means that your sunscreen is an over-the-counter drug, just like Tylenol or cough medicine. Because of this, every sunscreen on the market should have a Drug Facts Panel for consumers to read. If you find sunscreen without a Drug Facts Panel, it is not FDA compliant and should be avoided.

Water-resistant sunscreens were invented in 1977 and the FDA only approved a few brands for using this label as they do not allow a product to call itself "waterproof" nor "sunblock". This is because no sunscreen is truly waterproof, and no sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays.

The FDA also closely regulates what "active" ingredients (the ones that actually protect from the sun) are allowed to be used in sunscreens. So far, there are 16 approved active ingredients, but only two of those, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are what are generally recognised as safe and effective.


In November 2012, the first SPF 50+ sunscreen was sold in Australia. The SPF number represents the number of times longer you can be in the sun when wearing sunscreen. For example, SPF 30 protects your skin 30 times longer than if you were not wearing sunscreen, and SPF 50 protects you 50 times longer from the sun.


Antioxidants may improve the skin by;

  • reducing DNA damage from UV light
  • improving hydration
  • stimulating the production of collagen and elastin
  • reducing the appearance of wrinkles and pigmentation
  • supporting healing processes
  • reducing inflammation

Antioxidants may also play a beneficial role in preventing skin conditions. For example, a 2021 review of 20 studies indicated that vitamin E levels were lower in patients with conditions, such as vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, and acne. The reviewers highlight a need for further research to evaluate vitamin E for improving skin diseases.

A 2022 review notes the potential of antioxidants to counteract the involvement of oxidative stress in psoriasis.

The best antioxidants for skin

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin C
  • selenium
  • zinc
  • copper
  • carotenoids, such as beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene
  • polyphenols, plant compounds, such as:
  • silymarin, present in milk thistle
  • epicatechin, present in green tea
  • genistein, present in soybeans
  • curcumin, a compound in turmeric
  • bakuchiol, from Psoralea corylifolia. 
  • resveratrol, present in grape seeds

While the review stresses the importance of diet, some of the antioxidants it mentions are available as supplements or in topical skin care products.

A popular antioxidant ingredient in skin care products is vitamin C.

According to a 2017 review( see below) , vitamin C is the most abundant antioxidant in human skin. Even with high-dose oral supplements, only a fraction of vitamin C will be biologically available and active in the skin.

May 27, 2024

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