Non-sunscreen photoprotection: antioxidants add value to a sunscreen.
The association between ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure and both skin cancer and photo-aging is well documented. In addition to the conventional organic-chemical and physical-mineral type sunscreens, other non-sunscreen protective strategies have been developed. These include topically applied botanical extracts and other antioxidants as well as topical DNA repair enzymes. Standard terms of photoprotection such as sun protection factor (SPF) do not accurately reflect the photoprotection benefits of these materials. For example, in spite of minimal SPF, tea extract containing polyphenols such as (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) has been shown to protect against UV-induced DNA damage and immune suppression, in part through its ability to reduce oxidative stress and inhibit NF-kB. The addition of botanical antioxidants and vitamins C and E to a broad-spectrum sunscreen may further decrease UV-induced damage compared with sunscreen alone. These agents have been shown to enhance protection against UV-induced epidermal thickening, overexpression of MMP-1and MMP-9, and depletion of CD1a(+) Langerhans cells. Non-sunscreen materials such as botanical extracts, antioxidants, and DNA repair enzymes can contribute value when applied topically to human skin in vivo.Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings (2009) 14, 56-59; doi:10.1038/jidsymp.2009.14.