The Science Behind Solcare

How Sunlight Damages Your Skin

The ingredients in Solcare have been selected to help provide antioxidant protection for your skin from the damaging effects of the sun.

When UV rays from sunlight hit your skin, they produce free radicals by exciting electrons on molecules. These free radicals are unpaired electrons, often found on oxygen atoms, that are highly reactive with proteins, DNA, and membranes in skin cells. Free radicals cause the molecules to stop functioning properly, leading to cell death and reduced cellular activity. This process is termed oxidative stress. The loss of skin cell function and cell death caused by oxidative stress leads to reduced secretion of collagens and elastin, molecules that are important for the elasticity and smoothness of your skin (Figure 1). UV-induced skin damage also causes an inflammatory response that leads to erythema (skin reddening), giving your skin a splotchy appearance that leads to brown spots.

It is critically important for skin health to remove free radicals before they can damage skin cells. Antioxidants work by reacting with free radicals to remove reactive electrons before they damage cellular components. This allows cells to function properly to produce the collagen and elastin that support healthy skin tone.

Figure 1. How UV rays damage skin. UVA and UVB radiation generates free radicals that can attack cellular molecules such as DNA, protein, and membranes, leading to cell damage that impairs function and kills cells. These causes reduced collagen and elastin secretion, resulting in dry, wrinkled skin. Inflammation caused by sunburn can lead to brown spots.

How Solcare Aides in Protecting and Renewing Skin

Each ingredient in Sun Care Supplement has been carefully selected for its ability to eliminate free radicals and provide renewal to your skin cells from the damaging effects of UV rays.

Vitamin A (β-carotene) is a member of the carotenoid family of molecules that includes lycopene, lutein, and astaxanthin (Figure 2). These are structurally similar molecules that form molecular complexes with free radicals to remove them from cells (Figure 3). There is evidence that carotenoids can directly absorb UV rays, preventing the generation of free radicals. Studies have shown that antioxidant mixtures of carotenoids can reduce erythema and protect against UV-induced skin damage1.

Figure 2. Carotenoid anti-oxidants. The ends of the molecules are different while the middle region contains similar length and structure of bonds.

Figure 3. β-carotene and other carotenoids react with free radicals to create a non-reactive product.


Vitamin C (ascorbate) is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. It can scavenge free radicals directly, and also functions with vitamin E (tocopherol) and the thiol antioxidant systems in your cells to remove free radicals (Figure 4). Ascorbate absorbs free electrons and passes the electrons to glutathione and lipoate, natural antioxidants in your cells.


Vitamin E (tocopherol) is an antioxidant found in many oils that integrates into cell membranes. α-tocopherol is the most biologically active of the tocopherols in vitamin E. It reacts with a free radical and absorbs the electron, then passes the electron onto vitamin C (ascorbate) for eventual reaction with the thiol antioxidant system that renders free radicals harmless (Figure 4).

Figure 4. How vitamin E (α-tocopherol) and vitamin C (ascorbate) remove free radicals by passing them onto the cellular antioxidant system.


Zinc is important in cells as a co-factor for many biological processes, and helps transport Vitamin A in the serum to skin cells when the two are consumed together12.

Selenium (Selenomethionine)

Selenium is a co-factor for the cellular antioxidant glutathione peroxidase, which removes damaging hydrogen peroxide molecules (Figure 5). It also helps repair of DNA from damage.

Studies in mice have shown that it provides protection from UV-induced sunburn when administered in drinking water3.

Figure 4. Selenium acts as a co-factor for the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase, which converts hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to water through the oxidation of glutathione (GSH).

Polypodium Leucotomos Leaf Extract

Polypodium Leucotomos is the extract of the tropical cabbage palm fern and is able to scavenge free radicals. It also protects DNA from damage, promotes the generation of collagens, and has anti-inflammatory activity, which helps limit erythema after getting a sunburn4,5. 


Lycopene is a carotenoid that is found in tomatoes and other red vegetables. It can scavenge free radicals similarly to β-carotene, but at higher efficiency. Studies have shown that lycopene improves skin texture6 and inhibits the oxidative stress caused by UV radiation7


Lutein is a carotenoid found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Similar to other carotenoids, lutein scavenges free radicals. Research has shown that it inhibits oxidative stress caused by UV radiation in humans7 and prevents inflammation and cell damage in mice8.


Astaxanthin is a carotenoid found in marine plants and animals. Studies in cell culture have found it to be the most powerful antioxidant among the carotenoids9. A recent study in mice showed that dietary astaxanthin protects skin from wrinkles caused by UV radiation10.

Green Tea Extract (50%)

Green tea is a rich source of polyphenols, which function as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Polyphenols have several aromatic rings in their chemical structure, which are able to absorb and stably hold free radicals, a process termed resonance (Figure 5). By doing so, the rings prevent the free radical from attacking other molecules11. One of the polyphenols, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), has been shown to inhibit the production of the free radical nitric oxide after UV radiation of cultured human skin cells12.

Figure 5. Resonance of a free radical in an aromatic ring. The free electron in red moves around the ring and to the side group (CH2), but this free movement makes the molecule more stable and retain the electron. 

Pomegranate Fruit Extract (Punica Granatum)

Pomegranate extracts are one of the best sources of anthocyanins. Similar to polyphenols, anthocyanins contain a cyclical ring that absorbs free electrons. Anthocyanins have been shown to have strong antioxidant capability13.

Silymarin (80%)

Silymarin is a flavonoid complex derived from the milk thistle plant. Flavenoids are another category of molecules with aromatic rings that are able to scavenge free radicals. Studies have shown that silymarin protects from DNA damage, oxidative stress, and cell death caused by UV radiation14,15. 


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  3.  Burke KE. Oral and topical L-selenomethionine protection from ultraviolet-induced sunburn, tanning and skin cancer. J Orthomol Med 1992; 7:83–94.
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