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'Fun in the Sun' Skin Care Tips

August 10, 2018

It's summer, and as we're all spending more time outdoors, we thought we'd share a few sun care tips:

'Fun in the Sun' Q&A with model and nutritionist, Karen Fischer, award-winning author of The 8-Week Healthy Skin Diet:

As a model, did you have shoots in sunny places? What are some of the places? How did you protect your skin then?

In Australia more than half of the photo shoots are outdoors and summer shots are taken in winter, so I was often freezing at 6am at one of the beaches near Bondi Beach in Sydney. The sun’s UV rays are very mild early in the morning and late in the afternoon and the light is softer and more flattering for photos. Photos aren’t usually taken at midday, when the sun is at its most damaging, because the light directly above causes unflattering shadows on the face, or photos are taken in the shade at this time. Regrettably, I was not sun-savvy in my 20s and the Australian sun is particularly harsh, so luckily I had a thick coat of make-up to protect my skin while I worked.

Is it possible to protect your skin from the sun via diet? 

Absolutely – as I mention in my book, The 8-Week Healthy Skin Diet, what you put on your fork can help to protect your skin from sun damage. For example, the more lycopene you consume in your diet, the higher the protective carotenoid content in your skin – it’s like an extra insurance policy to keep your skin looking beautiful. (more on this in the next question)

Stahl, W., et al. 2005, ‘Lycopene-rich products and dietary photoprotection’, Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 238-42.

Poljšak, B., & Dahmane, R. (2012). ‘Free radicals and extrinsic skin aging’. Dermatology Research and Practice.

Are there certain foods you eat that help? If so, what ones and how? Are there studies that back this up or is this from your experience?

According to research from the University of Utah in the U.S.A, the more carotenoids present in your skin, the lower your risk of sun-damage, skin cancer and pre-cancerous lesions. (Hata 2000) Therefore something as simple as adding a splash of organic tomato ketchup with your dinner – because cooked tomato is the richest source of a carotenoid called lycopene – or eating a daily serve of papaya, watermelon or guava (other excellent sources of lycopene), can boost your skin’s defenses and have a mild anti-aging, anti-wrinkle effect.  

Hata, T.R.,, 2000, ‘Non-Invasive Raman Spectroscopic Detection of Carotenoids in Human Skin’, THE JOURNAL OF INVESTIGATIVE DERMATOLOGY, vol. 115, pp. 441-8.


Aside from anything you ingest and sunscreen creams/lotions/sprays, how do you protect your skin now?

Sun exposure while driving can cause age spots on the hands so I wear driving gloves – Grace Kelly and my love of old 1950s movies inspired this habit.

Do you swear by hats? A certain type of sunglasses? Cover-ups like caftans?

During the day I’m never without my wide-brimmed black felt hat – I love it!

Do you stay out of the sun certain times?

Ideally I would avoid sun exposure during the middle of the day, from 11am to 3pm, when the sun is at its most damaging but I am often in my car and busy like everyone else, so I rely on dietary antioxidants and good skin care habits, including zinc-rich sunscreen, to prevent sun damage. Some sun exposure is vital for beautiful skin so total sun avoidance is not necessary or advisable. Sunlight triggers the skin to manufacture vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones and it controls more than 200 genes in the body – so have your doctor check your vitamin D levels if you are experiencing deficiency signs such as bone, muscle or skin problems and fatigue. About 10 minutes of direct sunlight in the morning or afternoon is enough to boost vitamin D production in the skin.


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