Photo: Liz Collins/Trunk Archive
Not to brag, but I always had perfect skin. Until one day, I didn’t. I developed hyper-pigmentation on my forehead and cheeks and suddenly a day at the beach—even protected by sunscreen and a hat—was too much. I was horrified. So off to the dermatologist I went.
My derm’s solution was hydraquinone and retin-A. And to stay out of the sun—forever. She also suggested carrying an umbrella, wearing sunscreen in the house (upon waking, and on rainy days too), and to never forget that sunscreen will not 100% protect you.
I walked out of there thinking she was nuts, but I soon found myself retreating to darker rooms, wearing hats, and slathering on sunblock like my life depended on it. Soon night was my favorite time of day, and I feared I was beginning to look like a member of the Cullen family. Clearly, I needed a different approach.
I decided to consult Thea Fournier, a Medical Intuitive and nutritionist who suggested taking astaxanthin, a supplement currently being touted as the most potent antioxidant available. Naturally found in wild salmon, it’s produced when the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis dries up and has to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. In nature, it produces a force field to protect the algae from lack of nutrition—or intense sunlight. Turns out, it can have the same effect on your body. Fournier says, “As studies suggest, it has been my experience that astaxanthin acts as a natural internal sunscreen protecting you from further UV damage and helping to diminish skin pigmentation. It also acts as a strong anti-inflammatory, targeting a variety of inflammatory mediators, whereby helping to reduce pain in the body.” One study found that mice taking the supplement could last longer under UV radiation without getting burned; humans taking 4 mg per day for just two weeks could do the same.
Astaxanthin has many fans in the medical community, including one of the New York’s most famous dermatologists, the best-selling author Dr. Nicholas Perricone, MD. In his book, “The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet,” he calls it a “Superstar Supplement,” listing a series of benefits: “It provides wrinkle reduction by internal supplementation…It reduces hyper-pigmentation (better known as age spots)” Even Heidi Klum and Gwyneth Paltrow allegedly use “astaxanthin to help fight wrinkles, improve elasticity, reduce visible signs of UV-aging, and reduce the risk of skin cancer.”
As an added bonus it gives the skin a slight tan—not the “I ate too many carrots” kind, but a natural pigment that looks particularly healthy after my year of no sun. I’m sold on the health benefits, but a side of glow makes it a must-have.