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Does Oral Sunscreen Protect Your Skin?

Oral sunscreen has intrigued and divided skincare enthusiasts and professionals.

But does it work?

Let’s dive into the science behind oral sunscreen to separate fact from fiction.

What is Oral Sunscreen?

Also known as “internal sunscreen” or “nutricosmetics,” oral sunscreen is a dietary supplement.

These sun supplements contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may boost the skin’s resilience to sun damage.

It doesn’t replace your bottle of topical sunscreen. Instead, it acts as an internal defense system.

Common Ingredients

Oral sunscreens aim to boost your skin’s defense against sun damage.

Here are some of the most common ones:

Plant Extracts

Oral sunscreens contain Polypodium leucotomos (PL), a natural extract from tropical fern leaves with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Research shows that taking PL orally helps prevent cell damage and supports DNA repair, reducing cancer risks and skin aging.

However, the extent of PL’s protective effects in real-world scenarios remains unclear, and more studies are needed to validate these findings.


Renowned for their antioxidant properties, Vitamin C and E neutralize the effects of free radicals generated by UV exposure.

Free radicals harm skin cells, leading to sunburn, premature aging, and potentially skin cancer.


Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant found in algae and seafood.

It has been studied for its potential photoprotective effects, including UV radiation-induced skin aging and inflammation.

Studies on animals and small human trials have shown promising results, but more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.

Potential Benefits of Oral Sunscreen

Here’s a breakdown of the potential benefits these supplements offer:

1. Antioxidant Protection

Targeting free radicals may help defend the skin against sunburn and UV damage.

By neutralizing free radicals, oral sunscreens may help:

  • Reduce sunburn risk
  • Minimize premature aging from sun damage
  • Potentially offer some protection against skin cancer (research is ongoing)

Pomegranates are packed with antioxidants that may protect your skin. Check out our post to learn more- Unlock Pomegranate Benefits for Skin.

2. Photoprotection from Within

Photoprotection is the biochemical process that helps organisms cope with molecular damage caused by sunlight.

Polypodium leucotomos (PL) offers photoprotective properties. This natural extract may make the skin less susceptible to sunburn and UV radiation.

Oral sunscreen may offer the following photoprotection benefits:

  • Reduce UV-induced DNA damage in skin cells
  • Bolster the skin’s natural antioxidant defenses
  • Help minimize inflammation caused by sun exposure

3. Skin Health Support

Carotenoids in oral sunscreens, such as beta-carotene and lycopene, may provide benefits beyond sun protection.

These antioxidants may contribute to skin health by:

  • Promoting healthy cell function
  • Supporting collagen production (important for skin structure and elasticity)

Oral sunscreen may counter the long-term effects of sun exposure.

Limitations of Oral Sunscreen

These supplements do not replace topical sunscreen.

Below are the limitations of oral sunscreen:

  • No FDA regulation (products will vary in formulation and quality)
  • Not a substitute for topical sunscreen (increases cost and steps of sun protection routine)
  • Varied ingredients and responses (individuals will respond differently to oral sunscreen)
  • Insufficient scientific evidence


Overall, these products are safe for adults who want to enhance their sun protection.

These products are not suitable for children.

Consult your healthcare provider before adding any dietary supplements to your wellness routine.

Does Oral Sunscreen Work?

Oral sunscreens can provide an extra layer of sun protection, but they shouldn’t be your only line of defense.

Always wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, seek shade during peak sun hours, and cover up with protective clothing.

Dermatologist’s Recommendations

The American Academy of Dermatology has stated that oral supplements should not be a replacement for sunscreen or sun-protective clothing.

There is no scientific evidence that oral supplements can provide adequate sun protection.

Oral Sunscreen Products

Below are Heliocare products recommended by some dermatologists.

Discuss the addition of any dietary supplement with your healthcare provider.

Heliocare Dietary Supplement
Heliocare Skin Care Dietary Supplement
Heliocare Advanced Nicotinamide B3 Supplement; oral sunscreen
Heliocare Advanced Nicotinamide B3 Supplement

Are you interested in innovative ways to improve your skin? Check out our blog post IV Therapy For Skin: A Quick Way To Nourish & Rejuvenate.


Oral sunscreen is still in its early stages and more research is needed.

As a dietitian who loves the sun, the prospect of effective oral skin protection is exciting!

Topical sunscreen remains the gold standard for sun protection.

If you take an oral sunscreen supplement, it should be used along with topical sunscreen.

Hungry For More?

Are you interested in more information on skin health?

Check out our Skin & Beauty Nutrition section of the blog.

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*Please note this blog post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

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