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.
I did find a few decent options, for less money. Moogoo. Badger. Babo. Live Live. None of them are as perfect as I want though. Except ol’ Joshy boy. But he’s pricey.
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?
Do you think it would make a difference if I bought the original version instead of the vegan? I’m not a vegan and I’d like to go with the cheaper option. But not sure if the different ingredients would matter. I’ve been interested in astaxanthin lately – so glad to have more info!!
Hi Sara 🙂
I’m very confused about what you mean about the vegan version… the BioAstin one I linked to doesn’t appear to say anything about being vegan, that I can see (to any vegans wondering, it’s derived from algae, so I think that means it’s vegan friendly regardless). Can you link me to the two different versions of the product you’re looking at?
When I click on the link in the post it shows options for “style” as well as size of bottle. There are 2 styles. One is vegan and one is original. Maybe it’s because I live in the US?
Oh okay, I see it now. I didn’t realize that was a thing! The bottle that I have been using is not the vegan version. So if there is a seller on there selling the original version for less than $30ish then go for it!
Great post! So, I think the Gods are trying to tell me something because I’d never heard of this supplement until Wellness Mama mentioned it in her weekly newsletter on Sunday and I was intrigue. I bought it yesterday and then today saw your post on it! I’m curious to see how it goes. I got the NOW brand, which is 4 mg and I don’t think as high quality unfortunately. . but I’ll give it a go and note any improvements.
Hi Meagan! 🙂 Hopefully the NOW brand does just as well. You may need to take two or three of the 4mgs per day to get the maximum benefit though.
Thanks, an interesting article! And I love the flamingo picture 🙂
I have taken Astaxin from Astareal. It is 4mg one capsule and the label says, “take 1-2 per day and do not exceed this amount”. Your 12 mg sounds quite a lot! But maybe different brands or even countries have different limits?
But I am not an expert in this…I believe this is a safe supplement anyway, but if one capsule gives equally good protection, then that is good, because this is also quite an expensive product.
I also have never had any negative side effects from this, this is an excellent supplement 🙂
Hi Elina – hmm when I was researching it that’s the conclusion I came to was that 12 mg was optimal, but now I’ve started reading about it again thanks to your comment and there does seem to be widely varying opinions on what is best. That seems to be the case for a lot of supplements, doses seem to rarely be super straight forward. Do you find you get benefits and sun protection from taking the 4mg per day? What’s your experience been?
My skin is nearly “snow white” northern european skin, so it seems it burns easily no matter what I do 🙁
But I think it made my overall skin quality much more better! (less inflammation)
I was curious and read from AstaReal website…there is some research, where the test persons took 4 mg/day with excellent results, so maybe that’s enough? If some astaxanthin products are stronger…who knows if it’s just a marketing strategy or something, I don’t know.
Hi, this sounds really interesting 🙂 Do you know if the brand you recommended use pesticides in their farming? Looked at their website, and couldn’t really find anything that suggested organic farming ? Just seemed counterproductive to eat an highly antioxidant product with lots of pesticides included ? But if so, maybe the overall potency of the antioxidant overrides the negative effect of the pesticide? Hopefully, just ordered a bottle ?
Sorry, that is a thing I don’t know!
Is it okay to take Astaxanthin along with a daily DIM supplement?
I am not sure if they changed their ingredients since you posted this, but they do not include olive oil in the capsule… it is high oleic safflower oil. I purchased the astaxanthin from Sports Research because it has coconut oil in their capsules.
This concerns me because accutane also functions as a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, and the link to DHT is rumored to be why some people have long term (permanent) sexual disfunction after taking accutane. Is that also a concern while taking this supplement, or after you stop?
Hi J, yes – but from what I understand it’s really only a concern for men who take 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors because they actually need that DHT for their sexual function. Where as women don’t really need it much, and we’re about 100X more sensitive to it than they are (which is why we get way more adult acne than them. Woo.)
So for them, yeah it could be problematic, for us, not really. Still, accutane is super hardcore in a lot of ways; I don’t think any man has had any permanent side effects from saw palmetto or astaxanthin, any side effects would just go away when they stopped taking the supplement 🙂
My husband has been taking a DHT blocking supplement for years (for his hair), and if his libido has been reduced, thank goodness, because I can barely keep up! I can’t guarantee that anyone else has the same experience, but astaxanthin is awesome, and I’d say it’s worth trying.
Hello! Amazing review!
May I ask if Astaxanthin can avoid tanning of darker skins? Is sunscreen still required?
Hi Tamara! Sorry I don’t know… it probably doesn’t stop tanning, but neither does sunscreen?
I thought physical sunscreen could prevent a tan? Why it doesn’t?
Are you still taking this? If you are no longer taking it, has your skin remained extra-clear or did that only keep up for as long as you were taking it? I am wanting to start taking this but I’m reading reviews online of people having strange side effects and I’m also wondering if your experience has changed at all. Thank you!
What kind of strange side effects, and where were these reviews? I haven’t had any side affects but I take astaxanthin by Sports Research. Different companies have different ingredients in there with the astaxanthin…. So, it’s important to remember that it’s not just astaxanthin you’re consuming in these capsules.
Hi Emma 🙂
I still take it for the sunscreen and antioxidant benefits. My skin was very good anyway before I started taking it, it’s just extra extra good with this it seems, and it has a nice glow to it. I don’t know about the strange effects, I haven’t had any. Keep in mind that literally any supplement you ever could conceive of thinking of taking, there will be people out there who have had strange side effects and they’re more likely to be the ones talking about it so it skews the perception of how common it is. It’s not the supplement, it’s people’s bodies that create different reactions to different stimuli. If you have been very sensitive to supplements in the past and have been known to get reactions easily, then maybe be cautious, if not, then I wouldn’t worry too much. And even if you did get a strange side effect, you can just stop using it and no harm done!
Hello Tracy 🙂
If its oil soluble … would it be okay to take with cod liver oil?
Hi Tracy, I was wondering if you were still taking this supplement and how things are going. Do you stop taking it during the winter? Is it better to stop taking it after a certain period of time and then start again? What do you suggest?
I suffer from from solar rush and of course acne, so I was really taking into consideration the idea of starting taking this supplement. It doesn’t matter how much sunscreen I use, my skin (only my face actually) is still sensitive. Im trying to rebuild my gut health but I guess I need something more for the sun.
Hi Teresa, yes I still use it! Even in the winter because, you know, those beauty bloggers tell you you gotta wear sunscreen even in the winter 😉 Also because anti-oxidants are good for everything. Not sure about whether it’s best to take a break from it or not.
Thanks for your reply! Talking about antioxidants, I’m searching for more info about the lymphatic system, in particular, I was trying to understand whether or not anti-oxidants can help a congested lymphatic system. In this last holiday, I came to the realization that my sun sensitivity, most likely, is caused by a chronic inflammation strictly linked to a congested lymphatic system.
I know Vitamin C is suggested to strengthen the lymphatic movement but I’m not able to understand the reason behind it. So I was wondering if you knew anything about it. I have read the post on your blog about the lymphatic system, but there is nothing about anti-oxidants 🙂
One final question, I know you talk about this in your post, but I was wondering if you could spend a few more words whether or not you think that taking this supplement may cause major hormonal changes. It is my only concern about this supplement.
Hey Teresa, sorry I don’t know much about how antioxidants affect the lymphatic system specifically. The lymph system is a poorly studied body system I believe.
As for hormonal changes with astaxanthin, I was really worried about this too as the warnings are kind of vague about what that means. I bought a bottle a long time ago and then didn’t use it because of this. After researching it enough my second time around, I concluded that since this is a slight anti-androgen, the warning is pretty much towards men. Men should be careful with any anti-androgenic herbs or supplements. Women, it’s not really a problem.
I love astaxanthin, but now that I’m pregnant I’m wary of taking it.
What are your thoughts on Devita Natural Skincare’s Solar Body Moisturizer?
Here are the ingredients:
ACTIVE INGREDIENT: Micronized Zinc Oxide 19%
INACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Aloe barbadensis (certified organic aloe vera gel), Water (purified), Camellia sinensis (Japanese green tea) leaf extract, Capric/caprylic triglycerides (derived from coconut oil), Glycerin (vegetable), Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), Olea europaea (olive) oil, Lecithin phospholipid, Hyaluronic acid (vegan source), Simmondsia chinensis* (jojoba) seed oil, Squalane (olive), Panthenol (vitamin B5), Tocopherol (vitamin E), NaPCA, Rosa moschata (rose hips) oil, Centella asiatica (goto kola), Copper gluconate, Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, Fucus vesiculosis (seaweed) extract, Allantoin, Sodium riboflavin phosphate, Chondrus crispus (Irish moss), Lavandula officinalis* (lavender) essential oil, Anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower essential oil, Vitis vinifera* (grape) seed extract. Ingredient labeling adheres to international INCI standards
It also says:
“Offering broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection utilizing pure micronized zinc oxide (250 nm average particle size). This is a gentle, physical mineral sunscreen that is skin and reef friendly. Safe for adults and children and those with sensitive skin. Titanium Dioxide Free.
NO NANO TECHNOLOGY! (average particle size is 240 nm) DeVita skin care products are 100 percent Vegan and Paraben Free. They are considered Gluten Sensitive Safe and never contain GMO’s. DeVita products are never tested on animals (only humans!).”
I’ve been using it for awhile and it works pretty well for my skin, although with my new crazy hormones I have a ton of clogged pores and mini pimples under my chin. Any suggestions?
Thank you so much for your amazing, generous blog!
P.S. They make a face version, but it’s way less cost effective so I use the body one for my face.
P.P.S. The asterisk denotes ingredients that are organic.
Hi Kate — the sunscreen looks like a great option! And congrats on the family addition-to-be!