Sun Protection


by NIKKI POPE, May 10, 2018


The sun is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it offers us vital vitamins that are essential for the body such as vitamin D. On the other hand, excessive exposure to Ultraviolet radiation (UV) can have detrimental effects on the body. Examples of these are skin cancer, photoaging, and skin aging. Let’s start with highlight how the sun affects the skin.

The sun emits harmful ultraviolet rays in the form of Long Wave Ultraviolet (UVA) and Short Wave Ultraviolet (UVB). UVA has the potential of penetrating the dermis (the skin's thickest layer) causing skin aging and wrinkling (photoaging) (1). Surprisingly, UVA rays can penetrate the thickest clouds and the glass!

Unfortunately, UVB rays are the main culprits of skin reddening and sunburns, because it attacks the skin's superficial epidermal layers. On top of that, these rays have been proven to be one of the major causes of deadly skin cancer. This has been proven by studies that report the UVB rays to causes 90% of all skin cancer cases!

How is Green Tea Helpful?

There exist numerous tales about how to protect oneself from the ultraviolet radiation. But today, the emphasis will be on a product that does not have devastating side effects on human bodies, this is unlike most chemical products on the market. To start with, it is not even chemically processed but rather a naturally occurring product—Green tea extract. The legacy of green tea just goes on and on, with new discoveries of its powers being formulated with each passing day.

Scientists have confirmed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea. The latest studies now confirm that green tea extract (taken orally or applied topically) has the capability of protecting you from ultraviolet rays. Quit amazing, right?

Green tea contains water-extractable polyphenols such as catechins (molecules belonging to the flavonoid family) that have immense benefits. The primary type of catechins found in green tea extracts is epigallocatechin gallate(EGCG). Other polyphenols include epicatechin (EC) and epicatechingallate (ECG). However, it is EGCG that does most of the magic when it comes to the skin's protection from the harmful ultraviolet rays. According to reports from the British Journal of Nutrition, the active compounds found in green tea make the skin more resistant to ultraviolet radiation (2).

How does this happen? Well, recent studies have asserted that flavonoids found in green tea tend to absorb the harmful ultraviolet rays before they cause damage to the skin surface. In most cases, when the skin is exposed to too much ultraviolet radiation, sunburns (characterized by skin becoming red, swollen and painful to touch) will occur. Almost everyone has been affected by sunburns at one time in his/her lifetime. Well, don’t worry anymore; because green tea extract will offer you the protection you crave by giving you the opportunity to enjoy your vacation, instead of worrying about sunburn.

Another fascinating way that green tea extract protects your skin is by warding off sun-induced signs of aging.  Premature skin aging can be in the form of wrinkling, loss of skin elasticity, skin thinning, and leathery skin.  The compounds in green tea extracts such as EGCG have been shown to make the skin cells stronger and increase the skin's collagen level (3). Collagen is the skin's main structural protein that gives it its strength and elasticity thereby curbing skin sagging and wrinkling.  It is therefore imperative that the level of collagen does not diminish, and that is when green tea extract is necessary.  

Green tea extract may also have the potential to reverse skin damage caused by ultraviolet rays. YES, green tea extract has passed studies showing that the spots and scars caused by the UVA and UBVB rays on the skin can be cleared by green tea extract. Medical reports have proven that green tea extract has the ability to repair and reverse ultraviolet radiation damage on the skin, making you look young again. The extract does this by rebuilding the support tissues of the skin, making the skin more smooth and supple, and possibly reducing wrinkles.

Green tea extract may also protect and develop keratinocytes (the skin cells that make up 90% of the epidermis). This results in the thickening of the skin, which leads to fewer and fewer wrinkles and ultimately restoring your skin’s youthfulness and glow. 

Ultraviolet radiation can also attacks the epidermal cells and damage your DNA. This raises the chances of developing skin cancer. When the immune system is low and the DNA is damaged, it results in harmful oxidation and inflammation that produces the ideal environment for the development of cancer cells. Studies have indeed proven that the harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV) cause diseased skin cancer such as melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. It also causes pre-cancerous skin conditions such as actinic Keratosis.

Green tea extract may also increase the skin's immune system, protect against DNA damage, and compounds such as EGCG may reduce the metabolic changes of the skin associated with the development of cancer (4). Green tea extracts quench the free radicals and lower inflammation levels, therefore, removing the opportunistic conditions for the development of skin cancer.

The benefits of green tea extract to your health may be extensive, from protecting against premature skin aging, to inhibiting skin cancers. Quite simply, green tea extract is one product that should not be lacking in your daily life. You can utilize its benefit by taking it directly as green tea, or you can obtain it in balanced proportions from supplements.