For decades we have been educated on the terrible toll that too much sun takes on our skin. There’s a mountain of clear and undeniable evidence that sun damage can lead to premature wrinkling, changes in the color and texture of the skin — even skin cancers.
What if you could take a pill to erase the sun’s damaging effect on your skin? What if that pill provided all the benefits of using a sunscreen without the hassle of creams or sprays, or wearing protective sunglasses or clothing? Now, who wouldn’t want that?
At first glance it sounds too good to be true, but is it? Are these supplements a safe and effective means to get broad-spectrum sun protection without the need for applying sunscreens to your skin?
So-called oral sunscreens, such as Sunpill, SunAssure, Heliocare and Fernblock all contain polypodium leucotomos extracts from the cabbage palm fern found in Central and South America.
These extracts, containing naturally occurring chemical compounds retrieved from the underground root and runners of the cabbage palm fern, may provide some antioxidant effect, said Dr. Emma Taylor, a medical dermatologist and fellow at UCLA Medical Center.
But don’t throw out your high SPF sunscreen lotion or spray just yet.
“To date there is no definitive side-by-side study that compare oral sunscreens to topical sunscreens and there’s still a lot of information we don’t know about polypodium,” Taylor said.
Consumers may find that company advertising for these products sound pretty convincing.
The ad for Fernblock says: "In over a decade of clinical trials, FernBlock has shown remarkable effectiveness in shielding skin against dangerous ultraviolet exposure.
We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.