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Carotenoids: What They Are And Their Benefits For The Skin

It is no longer today that carrots are part of the diet of those looking for a uniform tan. The person responsible for this effect is beta-carotene, a type of carotenoid found in large amounts in carrots. But, more than promoting tan uniformity, carotenoids protect the skin from photoaging caused by ultraviolet rays.

Skin: Functions And Elemental Composition

The human skin is the body’s largest organ, functioning as a physical barrier to protect the body from pathogens (such as viruses and bacteria), chemicals, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

In addition, its three layers – epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue – perform other essential functions such as thermoregulation, prevention of excessive water loss and production of vitamin D.

How Does Skin Photoaging Happen?

Early skin aging is characterized by loss of elasticity, the appearance of thick wrinkles and uneven pigmentation in areas exposed to the sun. Among the various factors that lead to this, exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) is one of the main ones, as it increases the production of free radicals. This scenario leads to the degradation of elastic fibers, the reduction in procollagen and other changes that impair the skin’s elasticity.

Research shows a reduction in the concentration of essential skin structuring elements over the years. The amount of hyaluronic acid in the skin of a person aged 75 is four times less than when he was 19. A similar process occurs with collagen concentration. As we age, our ability to produce collagen naturally decreases by about 1.5% per year.

For this reason, cosmetics for topical use include collagen and hyaluronic acid in their formulas. There are other approaches to this issue.

For some time now, scientists have indicated that the intake of carotenoids is reflected in the skin’s health and the photoaging process. This link has begun to deepen over the last decade, with the increase demonstrated in scientific journals. Check below what carotenoids are and how they act, according to science.

What Are Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a large family of substances derived from vitamin A and orange, red and yellow in appearance. In addition to skin photoprotection, carotenoids perform other bodily functions, such as maintaining vision, preventing muscle degeneration and oxidation of LDL cholesterol. 

What Are The Functions Of Carotenoids In The Skin?

As the body does not produce them, the concentration of carotenoids in the skin depends on intake via food or supplements. After absorption in the intestine and transport to the skin, carotenoids accumulate mainly in the epidermis.

Studies have indicated the photoprotective effects of many carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, astaxanthin and zeaxanthin. In addition, carotenoids protect the skin against damage caused by ultraviolet rays, among other benefits. Check out!

Discoveries About Carotenoids

Fights Wrinkles And Increases Elasticity

In a study of 30 healthy women over 50, beta-carotene supplementation improved facial wrinkles and elasticity. The researchers also recorded a significant increase in type I procollagen mRNA levels, which regulates the natural production of collagen in the skin.

Skin Hydration

Research published in Nutrients looked at the effects of astaxanthin supplementation over ten weeks. People who received the supplement had less loss of skin moisture. In addition, there was an improvement in subjective skin conditions for “rough skin” and “texture”. Researchers have confirmed that astaxanthin can protect against UV-induced skin deterioration, helping to maintain healthy skin.

Stain Prevention

A study by the University of Manchester analyzed the effects on the skin after 12 weeks of lycopene ingestion by women with an average age of 33 years. The researchers concluded that this carotenoid has significant protective properties against UV-induced blemishes, in addition to improving other skin tissue photoaging indicators.

How To Get Carotenoids?

Because the body does not produce them, carotenoids must be obtained through food or supplements. Check out the tips:


Given the beneficial performance of carotenoids for the skin, it is possible to find them in nutricosmetics, powdered food supplements, and capsule options.

Fruits And Other Foods With Carotenoids

The primary sources of carotenoids in foods are fruits and other vegetables, and their concentration increases during ripening. Check out:

  • Beta Carotene – carrots, acerola, melon, cabbage, pumpkin and mango;
  • Lycopene – tomato, red guava, papaya and watermelon;
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin – cabbage, peas, broccoli, corn and egg yolk;
  • Astaxanthin – salmon, shrimp and lobster.


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