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Sun Protection From The Inside Out

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

Written by Bend Beauty


Sun protection is key to skin health. Your skin is your largest organ. Necessary to your survival, it provides a chemical and physical barrier that protects you from harm, including UV exposure (1). Like any other organ, your skin needs to be healthy to function correctly. The health and appearance of your skin depends on many internal and external factors. While sunscreen is key to skin health and longevity, we can further protect ourselves by choosing certain nutrients and supplements – read on to learn more.

Reactive Oxygen Species and Skin Health

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are oxygen molecules produced by UV rays and pollution. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, its UV radiation causes a dramatic increase in the production of ROS. The sudden increase causes oxidative stress. The subsequent damaging effects of oxidative stress occur through many mechanisms that involve changes in protein and lipid structures, inflammation initiation, immune system suppression, DNA damage and activation of signaling pathways that affect gene expression and cell proliferation.

All these fluctuations away from homeostasis can contribute to cancer initiation. Therefore, regulating ROS levels is critical to maintaining normal skin homeostasis and health (2).

That’s a lot to take in – so let’s break it down. Cells produce various kinds of ROS when exposed to factors that contribute to their formation including UV light (3).

Impact on Skin Structure and Function

Repetitive skin exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation primarily produces wrinkles. Ultraviolet A (UVA) predominantly contributes to sagging skin called solar elastosis, which is one of the main markers of skin photo-ageing. It creates disorganized and non-functional elastic fiber deposits (4) and decreases hyaluronic acid levels (5). Over time, repeated UV exposure eventually causes so much damage to skin cells, in particular their mitochondria, that they can no longer function normally. They then undergo either:

  • Cellular senescence which is irreversible growth arrest (i.e., the cell stops dividing, forever). That can happen in response to various cell stressors including oxidative stress, DNA damage, telomere erosion, and oncogenic activation

  • Apoptosis which is programmed cell death. It happens when cells become damaged beyond repair and is one method the body uses to get rid of abnormal cells.

Both are protective mechanisms to prevent cancer development. However, both processes can also be hampered, which leads to carcinogenesis.

Protecting Your Skin from the Inside Out

Macro and micro-nutrient status is well accepted to be important for skin health and appearance. These nutrients, as well as other beneficial bioactive substances, can come from various:

  • Whole foods, including vegetables, berries, mushrooms, nuts and seafood

  • Supplements, including specific vitamins, minerals, bioactive peptides, polysaccharides, polyphenols, carotenoids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids

Their regular take may protect against sun damage based on various human clinical trials.

So, what should you eat (and drink!) to increase your skin protection from within?

Green tea

  • Green tea is made by steeping leaves of Camellia sinensis in hot water. The resulting mixture contains polyphenols known collectively as catechins, that provide strong antioxidant protection for skin (6). The main catechins present in green tea are gallocatechin, epigallocatechin, and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG is the main component and mostly accounts for its photo-ageing protective effects in human skin (7)

  • Green tea polyphenols infused with milk increase antioxidant and antioxidant enzyme levels, and reduce lipid peroxidation in skin, while notably improving skin integrity and texture, and reducing skin wrinkles and roughness in elderly subjects (8)

  • Two years of treatment with green tea polyphenols significantly improved overall sun damage within 6 months, and redness and spider veins by 12 months (9)


Cocoa products made from the dried and fermented fatty seeds of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, such as dark chocolate and cocoa drinks, are known to have many health benefits. They can improve blood pressure, insulin resistance, blood lipids, and cognitive/brain performance (10). Their rich supply of active ingredients includes several polyphenolic antioxidants, especially flavanols. The main flavanols are epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidins.

Cocoa has great potential to prevent and treat skin diseases owing partly to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune modifying effects that can protect skin from the inside by neutralizing oxidative stress, a major factor in skin structure deterioration and premature skin ageing. It has shown promise for skin conditions, such as cancer, psoriasis, acne, and wound healing (11) and has potential to benefit atopic dermatitis (12, 13). Those effects are attributed primarily to its flavanol content that can increase photo-protection by inhibiting ultraviolet-induced DNA oxidation (14), enhance DNA repair, and improve microcirculation to supply nutrients that contribute to metabolism within, and maintenance of, the extracellular matrix (15).

Skin associated R, PC, clinical studies confirm that cocoa products including cocoa powder:

  • Decrease UV-induced inflammation (16, 17), TEWL (16), skin roughness (10, 16), scaling (16), and wrinkles (10)

  • Increase skin microcirculation (16, 18), density, thickness, hydration (16) and elasticity (10).


Did you know that plants produce color partly in order to protect themselves from harmful ultraviolet (UV) sun radiation? Well, those same intense and beautiful hues, found in many foods, can also protect you!

One group of such pigments includes 600 types of naturally occurring anthocyanins. These water-soluble, deep blue- and purple-colored substances absorb blue-green light and UV rays. They are found in many foods including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, purple grapes, beets, red cabbage, and red beans (19).

Hundreds of scientific studies show that anthocyanins have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties (20) making them useful to protect health in general, but particularly suited to protecting skin from sun damage that contributes to skin aging and cancer (19).

Bend Beauty Renew + Protect

Bend Beauty’s foundational product is clinically proven to increase skin resistance to UV-induced sunburn.

Their clinical trial was performed to assess the effect of Renew + Protect on “minimal erythemal dose” (MED) in skin as well as to assess its safe use. MED is used to describe the baseline at which skin begins to redden and consequently burn when exposed to UV light. Therefore, this trial’s objective was to determine how long skin can be exposed to UV damage before it begins to redden/burn. The trial used participants ranging in age from 19-65 with a Fitzpatrick skin type of I, II, or III. This describes skin types that are very fair to medium fair skin tone – the most common skin types to burn with UV-exposure. Participants were not previously taking Bend Beauty Renew + Protect, nor any other supplements that would interfere with the trial’s results.

Participants were treated with a controlled UV light (the strength of which is similar to actual sunlight) on a small section of skin. The longer it takes for skin to redden, the greater the resistance to UV light. Measurements were taken at baseline (before taking Renew + Protect), after four weeks of taking Renew + Protect, and after eight weeks of taking Renew + Protect.

The results of the clinical trial demonstrated that after four weeks of taking Renew + Protect, participants’ skin was 39% more resistant to UV burning. This is determined by the MED (minimal amount of time it takes for the skin to redden) being greater than at the time of the initial test. After 8 weeks of using Renew + Protect, participants’ skin was 84% more resistant to UV burning. The trial also discovered that skin’s resistance to UV decreased when participants stopped taking the product. This demonstrates that when taking Renew +

Protect consistently and continuously, the skin is better able to resist UV damage. Treatment was well tolerated with no product associated with adverse events (AE) and only a few mild and expected side effects (please see clinical trial for further details).

In some, sun protection is key to healthy skin – and while it’s very important to wear sunscreen daily, we can further minimize sun damage to our skin by choosing nutrients and supplements that protect us from the inside out.

Bend Beauty products are BBP approved and contain many powerful active ingredients to unlock your skin’s potential, and optimize your wellness routine.

Shop Bend Beauty – and use code BBP20 for 20% off your purchase on


The Education Collection is a series of blog posts that will provide education surrounding skin health from the inside out. We have partnered with Bend Beauty for this collaboration because we both are on a collective mission to change the narrative surrounding beauty. Bend Beauty is bending the path towards sustainable beauty by providing education and science behind what we put into and onto our bodies, using innovative research that allows us to understand new elements of skin health and longevity and applying that directly to their product development. Beyond Beauty Project and Bend Beauty truly believe that aging is a magical part of life and that beauty is how you feel - from the inside out. Bend has our BBP Stamp of Approval, which is reserved for brands that share the same philosophy and mission as us. We are looking to partner with brands that are committed to not using any verbiage that erodes our self-worth or self-esteem, and who are committed to changing the narrative of beauty for all of us. We love beauty and we love beauty products as much as anyone else, but we firmly believe that there is a way to have all of the fun luxurious products while also feeling empowered about ourselves and our own beauty. We hope you enjoy the second part of Beyond Beauty Project x Bend Beauty's Education Collection.




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