The Role of Carotenoids in Human Skin


A 2011 article from Molecules (vol 16, p.10491) examining the effectiveness of carotenoid antioxidants in protecting skin from free radical damage. The authors not only confirm that carotenoid concentration directly relates to skin health, they also observe that topical applications are effective in raising carotenoid concentrations in the skin barrier.

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Carotenoids are known to be powerful antioxidant substances playing an essential role in the reactions of neutralization of FR [Free Radicals] (mainly reactive oxygen species ROS). Carotenoid molecules present in the tissue are capable of neutralizing several attacks of FR, especially ROS, and are then destroyed.

Resulting from a variety of studies performed at the CCP [Center of Experimental and Applied Cutaneous Physiology (CCP) at the Department of Dermatology of the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin] with the RRS [resonance Raman spectroscopy] it was established that individuals with high carotenoid concentrations in their skin looked young for their age, whilst individuals with low carotenoid concentrations appeared older. 

In the previous studies, it could be demonstrated that high antioxidant concentrations in human skin present the best protection strategy against skin aging... In general, there are two possibilities of inducing carotenoid accumulation, one being systemic administration by carotenoid-rich food or intake of food supplements, and the other being topical application of antioxidants in the form of creams and lotions...Products administered both as cream and as tablets, resulted in an up to 100% increase in the dermal carotenoid concentration of individual volunteers.

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