One cause of oxidative stress (read also about DNA damage) is UV radiation and therefore preventing the harmful effects of UV radiation also prevents oxidative stress and photoaging. The well-known ways of protecting your skin from UV radiation of the sun are clothing and sunscreen.

In addition, there are antioxidants that can help against oxidative stress but in order to increase the effect of antioxidants on the surface of the body they should rather be applied directly on the skin. As we discussed here herbs contain a high level of antioxidants 2 which means herbal preparations have a high potential in protecting against UV radiation`s harmful impact. Herbal extracts have been used in cosmetics for example green tea, aloe vera, walnut and avocado which have repairing effects on the skin.

Aloe vera is mainly used for its cooling and soothing effect but the plant has even been shown to improve collagen production (a major structural component of the skin) and skin cells` structure.

Walnut extract has self-tanning properties. It forms colored compounds in the skin which also help to protect the skin from UV radiation.

Avocado oil is rich in vitamin E, β–carotene, vitamin D, protein, lecithin, and fatty acids which all help to absorb and defuse UV radiation.

The Chinese recommend using cool black tea for sunburns. Theoretically the tannic acid and theobromine in tea can help cool down the sunburns. In addition tea contains catechins that help repair skin damage and may even help prevent certain skin cancers (8).

Although there have been conducted several studies to determine the SPF value of natural oils, the results have been different and no consensus has been reached. Therefore, sunscreens remain a better option for blocking UV radiation 9,10. Nevertheless, herbal extracts can help repair the skin and offer protection against oxidative stress induced by UV radiation.

For more information on the the effects of UV radiation and oxidative stress read about Photoaging.


8. Korać, R. R. & Khambholja, K. M. Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation. Pharmacogn Rev 5, 164–173 (2011).
9. Kaur, C. D. & Saraf, S. In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics. Pharmacognosy Res 2, 22–25 (2010).
10. Gause, S. & Chauhan, A. UV-blocking potential of oils and juices. Int J Cosmet Sci 38, 354–363 (2016).


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