(@giseleofficial and @mirandakerr)
Now, we don’t want to jinx it, but there are rumours abound that the sun is set to stay out for not only the entire month of March but the whole summer too, with some forecasters predicting the hottest UK summer for 75 years. Exciting stuff for us sun-starved Brits. However, whilst this balmy weather will certainly mean a fair few BBQs and al fresco sessions, us beauty ladies reckon it’s time to get SPF savvy as the latest research shows that it’s what you eat, not just your SPF that counts. With foods like tomatoes making our skin less sensitive to the sun and oily fish like salmon set to decrease skin’s solar sensitivity, it’s time to re-stock your fridge. What's more, arm your skin's defences now and you'll be a walking nutritional powerhouse come July. Read on and learn, read on and learn…
1. LYCOPENE: THE NATURAL SELF-TANNER
A number of scientific studies are naming lycopene, the compound in tomatoes that makes them red, as a potent skin protector. One study, from Manchester University, found that eating tomato paste daily (cooked tomatoes are higher in lycopene than raw ones) can increase skin’s natural protection against sunburn by 33%. What’s more, further research showed that lycopene can also act as a tan-enhancer. It interacts with the natural pigment, melanin, to help a tan last longer. Lycopene boosts a substance called procollagen in the skin, which keeps it supple and could protect against ageing by reducing damage to skin cells.
SPF Your Diet: Eat cooked tomatoes daily, eg, pasta sauce.
(@beyonce and @badgalriri)
2. VITAMIN E: THE UV DE-ACTIVATOR
Sun damage is caused by photo-ageing- the action of UV light on the skin. The resulting chemical reaction produces volatile compounds called reactive oxygen species (ROS), aka free radicals. These attack healthy cells, leading to sagging and wrinkling of the skin. The best defence against free radicals are antioxidants, which can deactivate them. The most famous antioxidant is vitamin E, a popular ingredient in top-end complexion creams and serums. Some people also take it in supplement form, but be warned: too high a dose of vitamin E has been shown to be pro-oxidant and could actually damage the skin. Take a mixed antioxidant supplement or top up with food sources of vitamin E.
SPF Your Diet: Eat plant oils such as olive or rapeseed oil in salad dressings and wheatgerm from wholegrain breads and cereals.
3. ALKALISERS: SUN DAMAGE DEFENDERS
For the chemical reactions in our bodies, including those that de-age the skin, to work effectively, our bodies need to provide an alkaline environment. The acid in the stomach is a rare exception to this. Everywhere else, if your body is too acidic you get cell damage. In the skin, so-called ‘acidosis’ depletes collagen and elastin, the fibres that form the soft, supportive skeleton of the skin, leading to sagging and wrinkling. It also causes ‘demineralisation’, where essential minerals, including calcium, are taken out of tissues, including bone and skin cells, to help balance blood pH. This can cause dry, cracked and aged skin.
SPF Your Skin: Eat more vegetables as these are alkaline, 5 to 10 portions per day.
4. GLUCOSAMINE: THE POST-TAN SKIN SOOTHER
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is an ingredient in cutting edge anti-ageing creams. It is ‘hydrophilic’, so it attracts water into the skin, plumping it up, making it look younger. HA has also been shown to prevent damage to tissues and occurs naturally in collagen and elastin. Low levels of HA are associated with skin ageing. HA is made from glucosamine sulphate, but you can’t eat glucosamine- well, not unless you want to chew on a bit of meat gristle. Instead, you can eat its building blocks. These are glucose (sugar) and an amino acid called glutamine. You also need a good supply of sulphur and magnesium to manufacture HA.
SPF Your Skin: Eat green leafy veg for magnesium, get glutamine from fresh parsley and spinach, and eat sulphurous veg such as broccoli. It may be easier to take a glucosamine sulphate supplement.
(@nicolerichie and @mileycyrus)
5. OMEGA 3: THE ANTI-DEHYDRATOR
We all know that omega-3 fats are good for the brain- studies have shown they increase attention span in children- but they are also a key weapon in your arsenal against premature sun-ageing. The reason is that the top layer of your skin is made partly of ‘essential’ omega-3 fats. These are fats that we cannot make in our bodies, but must eat from oily fish, nuts and seeds. These omega-3 fats provide a waterproof layer that seals moisture into the skin, giving it a plump, youthful appearance. But, hang on, surely all that floating about on a lilo in the pool or paddling in the sea means your skin is constantly bathed in H20. Why do we need omega 3 as well? The heat of the sun is dehydrating- add in salt from the sea or chlorine from the pool, and the natural osmotic traffic of moisture is out, rather than into the skin, leaving it dry.
SPF Your Skin: Eat oily fish (salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna) three times a week, include unsalted nuts and seeds as snacks.
(@officialjdunn and @sukiwaterhouse)
Additional words: Lowri Turner