UV radiation is one main contributing factor to a range of photosensitivity skin disorders such as epidermal and dermal (ie: top layer and second layer) damage. Short wavelength of UV-radiation is predominantly absorbed by the top layer of the skin and could cause sunburn, while longer UV-radiation wavelength penetrates into deeper part of the second layer of skin [1]. In fact, UV–radiation interacts directly with nucleic acids and may lead to photocarcinogenesis if exposed for a long period, as well as generation of ROS that accelerates photoageing [2].

Carotenoids are good agents for quenching singlet oxygen molecule and scavenging ROS arise from photosensitive skin associated disorders. Studies have demonstrated that carotenoids are able to attenuate effects of sunburn (erythema), mitigate lipid peroxidation and promote healthy skin tone as described below:

Study Significant Findings Reference
Carotenoids minimze sunburn (erythema)
Carotenoid supplementation reduces erythema in human skin after simulated solar radiation exposure Supplementation with natural carotenoids may partially protect human skin from UVA- and UVB-induced erythema, although the magnitude of the protective effect is modest in a dose-dependent manner. Lee, J. et al. (2000). Proceedings of the Society Experimental Biology Medicine
Carotenoids and carotenoids plus vitamin E protect against ultraviolet light-induced erythema in humans The suppression of erythema is greater with the combination of supplementation of carotenoids (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin) with vitamin E than with carotenoids alone. Stahl, W., et.al (2000). American Journal for Clinical Nutrition
A clinical trial of the effects of oral beta-carotene on the responses of human skin to solar radiation The threshold dose of sunlight to produce erythema (MED) is higher in individuals supplemented with beta-carotene, suggesting small effect in protecting against sunburn. Mathews-Roth, M. M., et.al (1972). The Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
Mitigates Lipid Peroxidation
The antioxidant effect of palm fruit carotene on skin lipid peroxidation in guinea pigs as estimated by chemiluminescence-HPLC method. The results suggested that palm fruit carotene intake reduces skin lipid peroxidation caused by UV irradiation. Miyazawa, T. et al. (1994). Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitamology.
Promotes Healthy Skin Tone
Consuming High-Carotenoid Fruit and Vegetables Influences Skin Yellowness and Plasma Carotenoids in Young Women: A Single-Blind Randomized Crossover Trial. High intake of carotenoid demonstrates significant higher plasma carotenoids (ie: alpha carotene, beta carotene and lutein) and significant increase in skin yellowness in both sun-exposed and unexposed skin areas with no changes in skin lightness or redness.

Plasma alpha carotene and beta carotene are also correlated with skin yellowness.

Pezdirc, K, et.al (2016). Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic

References:

  1. Willis, I.; Cylus, L. UVA erythema in skin: Is it a sunburn? Investig. Dermatol. 1977, 68, 128–129.
  2. Dalle Carbonare, M.; Pathak, M.A. Skin photosensitizing agents and the role of reactive oxygen species in photoageing. Photochem. Photobiol. B 1992, 14, 105–124.
SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS – SKIN HEALTH
1. Lee, J. et al. (2000). Carotenoid supplementation reduces erythema in human skin after simulated solar radiation exposure. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000 Feb;223(2):170-4.
2. Stahl, W., et.al (2000). Carotenoids and carotenoids plus vitamin E protect against ultraviolet light-induced erythema in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Mar;71(3):795-8.
3. Mathews-Roth, M. M., et.al (1972). A clinical trial of the effects of oral beta-carotene on the responses of human skin to solar radiation. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Volume 59, Issue 4, October 1972, Pages 349-353.
4. Miyazawa T, et al. (1994). The antioxidant effect of palm fruit carotene on skin lipid peroxidation in guinea pigs as estimated by chemiluminescence-HPLC method.  J. Nutr. Sci. Vitamol, Vol. 40(4); pp: 315-324.
5. Pezdirc, K., et.al (2016). Consuming high-carotenoid fruit and vegetables influences skin yellowness and plasma carotenoids in young women: a single-blind randomized crossover trial. J Acad Nutr Diet; 116(8):1257-65.doi:10.1016/j.and.2016.03.012.
6. Johnson, J.A., et.al (2014). Diet and nutrition in psoriasis: analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the United States. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol; 28(3):327-32. doi: 10.1111/jdv.12105.
7. Kim-Jun H. (1993). Inhibitory effects of alpha- and beta-carotene on croton oil-induced or enzymatic lipid peroxidation and hydroperoxide production in mouse skin epidermis. Int. J. Biochem, Vol 25(6); pp: 911-915.