Jasmine asks…I actually saw that Eve Pearl uses astaxanthin in her make up which is meant to be a natural sunscreen. Apparently it doesn’t make you look whitish like other sunscreens and being a super anti oxidant its great for the skin. I want to try buying a few caps and mixing them in my make up but apparently its highly orange in colour. Do you have any knowledge about astaxanthin? I don’t get a nice tan so I thought that this may be the answer to all my white-face woes during summer.
The Right Brain responds:
Astaxanthin has been a hot topic ever since the article in the Huffington post that suggests recapping research suggesting it could be a “sunscreen pill.” (I’m not sure but I think Astaxanthin was also a character on “Xena Warrior Princess.”) Anyway, it looks like it may have the potential to help protect the body against free radicals. However, that’s much different than what you’re asking about here Jasmine.That’s because the mode of action of a free radical suppressant, which is ingested, is going to be much different than a UV absorber, which is applied topically. So will smearing astaxanthin on our skin help protect us against the damaging rays of the sun?
Two reasons why Astaxanthin is not a good sun screen
The first hurdle to overcome before a chemical can be a good UV absorber is that it has to be able to absorb UV rays. I know this sounds obvious, but if it can’t absorb light in the right region of the spectrum, then it’s a nonstarter as far as being a sunscreen is concerned.
If you visit our Forum you’ll see astute Alchemist has already done the research and posted a couple of graphs showing how astaxanthin absorbs light. As you’ll see it absorbs visible rays very strongly but it hardly absorbs UV rays at all. In other words, it’s pretty much useless as a sunscreen.
Not that you need another reason, but since we promised you two, here you go: astaxanthin also has a characteristic carrot-like orange color. (It’s related to carotene.) It reminds us of some of the early sunless tanner formulations that gave the skin a ghastly orange hue. Even if it absorbed properly, the aesthetics of this ingredient would limit its use. Also, as Alchemist pointed out, the ingredient is expensive and would be cost prohibitive in regular sunscreen formulas.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
While we’re anxiously watching future research on internal sunscreens, this ingredient will not make Eve Pearl’s lotion work any better so don’t waste your money.
Image credit: http://rundontrun.net/365pix/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/day318.jpg