So, as you may know, a couple weeks ago, we were talking about sunscreen.
And how it’s, like, pretty damn nearly impossible to find a really clean, super acne-friendly sunscreen.
Unless you want to spend $85 US on the loveliness that is Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream.
So anyway, there is another alternative to explore. And that’s internal sunscreen.
Namely, it’s the supplement called astaxanthin… I can NEVER remember which order the s or the x or the th go in. Ast-ax-an-thin. Say that five times fast. I dare you.
Basically, astaxanthin is a super duper powerful carotenoid based antioxidant. Apparently the strongest natural antioxidant known to MAN!
It’s actually the pink pigment in salmon, and in shrimp, and also why flamingos are pink because they eat the shrimp… and then, well, somehow this magical pinkness protects from the blazing desert sun. The magical shrimp sunscreen.
Antioxidants. Free Radicals. Synergy.
So anyway – here’s the deal. When the sun hits you, the rays create free radicals in your skin.
As I’m learning, even if you aren’t in direct sunlight, the rays from daylight still create free radicals – just at a slower rate than if you sat in direct sunlight all day.
Free radicals are the actual things that damage your cells and create skin cancer and visible aging.
And experts also think they are a big culprit behind heart disease and immuno issues and joint pain and basically everything bad that could happen to you as you get older. Free radicals are not good.
(Note: free radicals also come from poor diets, pesticides, and pollution, not just the sun)
However, antioxidants are the superheroes that come along and kick those free radicals out of town before they can damage your skin and body.
Luckily, antioxidants are found all throughout a healthy diet. They are most abundant in fruits and vegetables and leafy greens. So if you’re a healthy Love Vitamin gal then you’ve got a head start!
I know that for me personally, after I adopted a healthy lifestyle in order to clear my skin, I did notice that it look much longer for me to get a sunburn.
So there. It works!
So taking astaxanthin is basically the same deal, but on supercharge because it’s such a powerful, concentrated antioxidant. It will give you an even bigger sun protection boost to your already anti-oxidant packed diet.
Sun rays come in… this baby neutralizes them. Zap!
Sunscreen Ain’t the Only Zap Astaxanthin’s Packing
But of course the benefits of astaxanthin don’t stop there. Since free radicals damage all the cells in your body, taking astaxanthin can be a huge overall health boost.
Let’s first look at the benefits for the skin itself:
- Prevents aging, reverses wrinkles (somewhat), and can get rid of age spots
- Helps the skin retain more moisture (very important for healing acne)
- Improves skin elasticity and texture
- Because of the bright pink/orange hue of the astaxanthin, it gives your skin this nice, healthy, colourful glow. I mean not like a flamingo or anything. Like a tan, but healthier.
- Reduces overall bodily inflammation and helps regulate blood sugar, both of which have a hugely positive effect on the skin and acne
- Is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor… 5-alpha-reductase is the enzyme that converts testosterone to its acne causing form called DHT. So while literature on acne and astaxanthin seems to be completely non-existant, this should in theory directly stop acne from forming
And additional benefits:
- Basically, it could give you more energy in general, and help protect against and possibly reverse: cancer, joint pain, heart disease, immune issues, diabetes, obesity, alzheimer’s, parkinson’s, stroke, poor memory, eye degeneration
Sooo… pretty good right? It sounded good enough that I decided to start taking it.
I’ve been taking it for about two months now.
I mean, I can’t really tell you how the anti-aging and cancer/everything prevention is… there’s no way to see a side by side comparison of how things would have turned out for me in ten year’s time, with and without astaxanthin.
But, you know. I sat in the sun for a while today and didn’t get burned? And I’ve done several hours of gardening in the direct sun with no sunscreen on and didn’t get burned So.. I guess that’s a ya?
And yeah, I think perhaps my skin has a nice pinky glow to it. Like a glistening salmon, maybe.
One thing I have not had the entire time I’ve been taking it is a pimple. Like not even the hint of a small one. My skin is generally pretty good, but it’s been exceptionally good.
Usually I will get one or two very small ones over a month, enough that most mornings I will put a tiny dab of concealer here or there to cover a faint red mark left behind. It’s really not a big deal at all…
But over the last two months??
Nothing. I ONLY put concealer under my eyes now. Which is amazing.
I didn’t think much of it and assumed it was a coincidence. Because tbh – I only found out it was a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor when writing this article.
So maybe astaxanthin is indeed an acne fighting angel as well! A multi-tasker for the ages.
Anyway — if all this good stuff is to be believed, I would say this could definitely replace your daily sunscreen application.
No muss, no fuss, no worries about thick, goopy, white, potentially acne-causing sunscreen and no reapplications!
Whether you can get away with an entire day at the beach and no topical sunscreen, I don’t know yet. That’s your call.
I haven’t tested it that extensively myself, but a lot of the reviews on Amazon suggest you can go at least a couple hours in blazing sun without it.
I imagine the reality depends how hot the sun is, what time of day you are out in it, and how easily you normally burn.
How to Take Astaxanthin Supplements
So.. I’ve determined the following:
- About 12mg a day is best
- A quality brand with legit astaxanthin is BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin
- BioAstin makes a 12mg one per day formula, which I take because it’s easier than remembering more than one pill per day
- Astaxanthin is oil soluble, so you need to take it with a snack or meal that has a little fat in it in order to have it absorb properly. BioAstin also puts a little olive oil in the capsule to help with this
- You have to take it consistently every day… you can’t just pop one in the morning before a beach day and expect to not fry like bacon. It has to build up in your system to offer sun protection
- Some sources suggest you only need two weeks before a beach vacation to have its sunscreen properties kick in, but the bottle says it can take 4 to 6 weeks to get full protection and benefits.. sooo.. I dunno. I erred on the side of caution before giving it a full try in the sun
Unfortunately it also isn’t the cheapest supplement out there… but.. that’s how it goes. The one per day formula has 50 pills in it (a weird number if you ask me), and runs at about $30 USD. So about $18 for a month’s supply.
Also — it’s not advised if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if only for lack of data. Also not advised if you generally have low blood pressure, or are on blood pressure meds or blood thinners.
And be careful if you’re a dude… inhibiting DHT usually doesn’t have negative side effects for women, but for some men it can cause low libido and other problems. You’ll sometimes read that astaxanthin can cause unspecified “hormonal changes” and I believe this is what that is referring to.
Anyway, I haven’t had any negative side effects at all, but that’s just me.
Now excuse me while I go lounge in my undies on my deck chair! Peace!
What do you think about astaxanthin? Are you sick of external sunscreen and willing to give it a try?