Updated: May 27, 2020
Did you know some foods can actually prevent sunburns and provide natural sunscreen properties? For redheads, this can be life-changing news. It’s time to get prepared for those beach days and glisten like a Hollywood star in the sun with the right sun protection* too, of course!
“New research suggests that certain types of foods and antioxidants may successfully help the body to fight against sunburn,” says Dr. Jennifer A. Gardner, board-certified pediatrician, mom, and founder of Healthy Kids Company. “Beta-carotene – an antioxidant found in leafy vegetables, carrots, red peppers and yellow fruits such as mangos, melons and apricots – has proven effective.”
Gardner walked us through the top foods redheads should be eating to protect their fair skin and said, “If you’re looking for foods packed with SPF, think about foods rich in lycopene, an antioxidant with natural sunscreen and anti-aging properties.”
“Tomatoes are a great place to start,” says Gardner. “Sun-dried tomatoes and canned or bottled tomato products (such as tomato sauce, paste, juice, soups, ketchup, and tomato-based chili or hot sauces) are all concentrated sources of lycopene. But fresh (uncooked) tomatoes still offer a respectable dose of good-for-your-skin lycopene.”
2. Watermelon & Red/Pink Based Fruits/Vegetables
“Another produce rich in lycopene (think deep red or pink) include watermelon — which actually contains MORE lycopene than tomatoes! Other fruits/veggies are red bell peppers, pink or red grapefruit, purple grapes, apricots, plums, papaya, and guava.”
“Another category of Super Foods that provide skin protection is a food rich in vitamin C, which reduces free radical damage caused by exposure to UV radiation. Vitamin C also stimulates collagen production, important for skin’s youthful appearance. Cherries are a great choice because, in addition to providing high levels of vitamin C, cherries also contain melatonin. This helps to protect skin from UV radiation and repairs sunburn damage.”
Gardner recommends, “Look to foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is a natural anti-inflammatory that may also protect against sunburn and cellular damage that may lead to skin cancer. Salmon is a great source. Other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids include sardines, herring, and mackerel. If your family is not into fish, try green, leafy vegetables, flax oil, or chia seeds.”
5. Almonds & Walnuts
“Another nutrient that is important in protecting skin cells from damage is vitamin E. And almonds are a great source of this key nutrient. Vitamin E also repairs skin damage and slows the aging of skin cells. Looking for more foods providing sun protection? Eat some walnuts, which are high in essential fatty acids, which may also protect against sunburn.”
6. Carrots & Asparagus
“Lycopene can be also found in foods of other colors, such as carrots and asparagus. For a bigger lycopene punch, serve these cooked. Carrots are also rich in beta-carotene, another antioxidant with natural sunscreen properties. It may also help reverse sun damage and reduce sunburn intensity.”
7. Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
“One of my favorite natural products to use on my skin is cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil. It moisturizes the skin without making it too oily or sticky. It has been used for thousands of years as a natural sunscreen, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial oil for both consumption and direct skin application. It also prevents acne and lacks the added chemicals in store-bought lotions and sunscreens that can be damaging to the skin.”
8. Green Tea
“Believe it or not, green tea studies show that green tea prevents sunburn. Here’s a link to one such study. They applied the green tea extract as a sunscreen. The EGCG minimized the damaging effects of UV radiation. It doesn’t block the UV radiation, it protects the cells.”
Rock it like a Redhead!
*It is not recommended that you replace sunscreen with these foods. It is vital to wear sunscreen regardless of the food you eat.
Subscribe to the H2BAR Box: A monthly and quarterly beauty subscription box for redheads! Use code: REDHAIR for 10% off. Subscribe now!