Why You Should Be Eating Your Sunscreen

For close to 100 years, people have been applying commercial sunscreens to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, preventing burning, premature aging and even carcinoma. But did you know that sunblock is just one method by which you can avoid burning? You can eat your sunscreen too — no joke!

Your diet has a lot of sway when it comes to determining how easily you burn. Sunburn, at its core, is simply a type of inflammation — an immune response in which the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot and painful. Most of the time, this inflammatory response is truly useful; it’s the way your body confronts threats like stress, infection and toxic chemicals. On the skin, however, this sunburn-triggered inflammation indicates an overexposure to ultraviolet radiation.


“Ultravoilet damage causes free radical production and oxidative stress, which causes DNA damage,” says dermatologist Neal Schultz, M.D. “This causes a cascade of different tiers of chemical and cellular mediators of inflammation and damage.” In other words, a sunburn wreaks just as much havoc internally as it does externally. That sunburn is more than a “pre-tan” — it’s induced cell death.

But what does diet have to do with this? Research shows that applying sunscreen alone cannot guarantee that you’ll be protected from UV damage. In order to truly enhance your body’s inflammation-busting capabilities, you also need to eat a variety of antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, reduce the photo aging effects of the sun and limit the likelihood of skin cancer. The big winners: vitamin C, E and A, as well as resveratrol, found in foods like blueberries and red wine, lycopene, found in tomatoes and catechins, found in green tea — all Care2 favorites!

Here’s an example of a great internal/external sunscreen routine.



  • Smooth on an antioxidant serum after you cleanse and before applying sunscreen.
  • Apply a non-toxic SPF 30 sunscreen to your face, neck and other exposed areas.
  • Enjoy a healthy breakfast complete with vitamin C-rich blueberries or an orange.
  • Drink a cup of green tea with lemon.


  • Reapply topical sunscreen if you’ll be out in the sun for an extended period of time.
  • Eat a lunch that contains antioxidant foods like artichokes, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, basil, kale or cilantro.
  • If you need a snack, munch on goji berries, hazelnuts or a handful of pecans. A tablespoon or two of tomato paste (weird, I know) works too!


  • Eat a dinner that contains one of these high-antioxidant foods: tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes or broccoli.
  • Enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner, but at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Apply a moisturizing night cream to counteract any dehydration and damage to the skin.
  • Have a cup of tea before bed that features anti-inflammatories like cinnamon or ginger.

Additional Recommendations

  • Pair these nutritional recommendations with a hat, rash guard or other physical protector.
  • Start taking these measures above at least a month or two before beach season!
  • Talk to your doctor about a specific regimen of supplements that may enhance your natural sun tolerance, specifically: vitamin D3, vitamin C, omega-3s and astaxanthin.


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Dennis Hall
Dennis Hall5 months ago


Peggy B
Peggy B6 months ago


Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson7 months ago

Thank you.

Tania N
Tania N8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Tania N
Tania N8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Tania N
Tania N8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Angelo Morella
Angelo Morella8 months ago

Why risk getting sunburnt in the first place?
The Australian health authorities recommend http://www.sunsmart.com.au/tools/videos/current-tv-campaigns/slip-slop-slap-seek-slide-sid-seagull.html slip slop slap seek and slide, however the slop is not required if one has slipped on a shirt and protective clothing and slapped on a proper had, not one of those cancer causing baseball caps. Top it off, as the article says, adopt a protective diet a factor that has been widely reported as being beneficial.
Seeking shade is good, but don’t know about the sunglasses, people wear them all the time they have their place in very bright environments eg from excessive UV. Given that one’s eyes need a certain amount of bright light to remain healthy; I wear sunglasses if and when I need protection, not as a fashion statement.
Apparently a significant proportion of the organic UV absorbing sunscreens are absorbed through the skin and enter the blood stream, I don’t know if the toxicology on these compounds have been done but I am not keen on these chemicals entering my blood stream. So I don’t use sun screens as I adopt appropriate clothing and I don’t get burnt.
Apparently the process that leads to cancer involves damage to the skin and that damage comes in the form of sunburn, if one does not get sunburnt then the damage is minimised.
While the article identif

Richard B
Past Member 9 months ago

thanks very much

Jan S
Past Member 9 months ago

thank you