Dr. Kunin Dissects Sunscreen in A Pill

Double duty beauty products are all the rage these days – and celebs are using just about anything that cuts their time in half and has added skincare benefits.  Last month, Reese Witherspoon confessed that she takes an oral supplement, Life Extension's Enhanced Fernblock with Sendara, (in addition to applying sunscreen) to increase sun protection and keep her skin looking fresh. While Reese’s routine might seem harmless, there’s one caveat: even though it contains the protective ingredient polypodium leucotomos extract, the ashwagandha contained in her supplement hinders it.  According to dermatologist and founder of DERMAdoctor, Audrey Kunin, the supplement can also induce a condition known as thyrotoxicosis, a syndrome that is related to hyperthyroidism.

For those interested in added UV protection, Dr. Kunin suggests using a different oral product called Heliocare, which is safer and more reliable... The active ingredient in this supplement, polypodium leucotomos extract, has shown to offer at least some sun protection. According to Dr. Kunin, this supplement “works to protect skin structure and immune response, as well as to scavenge UV-induced ROS and repair DNA.”

Since a sunscreen with a high SPF cannot provide 100% protection, this supplement’s DNA cellular repair benefits are advantageous.  Dr. Kunin advises to take one or two capsules a day in addition to a topical sunscreen. But she cautions, “the use of this oral product does NOT mean you should skip the sunscreen.”

The verdict still isn’t in on whether these supplements truly prevent sun damage. Are you interested in taking a sunscreen pill, or do you think slathering on good old sunscreen is the  only way to go?