March 22, 2022
What do carrots, berries, tomatoes, beetroot, broccoli have in common? Beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene belongs to a large family called carotenoids, which are naturally occurring pigments found in plants, fruits and vegetables that are responsible for their vibrant colors. It is estimated that there are 500 different carotenoids, including beta carotene, alpha carotene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin, and beta carotene is responsible for the yellow and orange hues in these food.
It is not merely a color pigment though——it is a potent, important element for skin health with a wide range of anti-aging benefits, and thus should really be added into your skincare routine. Look out for skincare ingredients including but not limited to extracts and oils of carrot, carrot root, tomato, pomegranate, grape, pumpkin, rosehip, blueberry, mulberry, raspberry, goji berry, turmeric, and hibiscus, that are abundant in beta-carotene.
But what exactly does it do for the skin?
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Beta-carotene is rich in vitamin A, a very potent anti-aging and anti-acne ingredient that is needed by both the upper and lower layers of the skin. It stimulates cell regeneration and collagen production, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, improves skin texture, and reduces acne. It also helps wounds heal, and reduces inflammation. Without enough vitamin A, the skin might get dry, itchy or bumpy, and conditions like keratosis pilaris and chronic acne may arise.
For the skin to actually benefit from it, topical vitamin A needs to be converted into the form that the skin can actually use. Ex vivo studies revealed that beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, is converted to retinal in the human epidermis, which, in turn, is reduced to produce retinol. Then, the retinol is estriﬁed by fatty acids. The end products of the β-carotene bioconversion into retinoids by the human skin are, therefore, retinyl esters.
Therefore, while it may not be as potent as retinol, and visible results will reveal in a slower manner, those with sensitive skin can benefit from daily use of beta-carotene rich products to obtain the benefits of vitamin A without irritations.
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Our skin naturally loses collagen as we age, but UV radiation, pollution, dust, pesticides, alcohol, cigarette smoke, food, excessive exercises, and inflammation can greatly speed up the whole aging process. This is because they create free radicals and promote oxidative stress that break down collagen and elastin fibers, hinder skin’s natural repair process, and trigger inflammation, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles, and loss of elasticity. By scavenging free radicals, antioxidants can help prevent and correct these visible signs of aging. Beta-carotene has strong antioxidative properties against 2 reactive oxygen species: molecular singlet oxygen and superoxide radicals. In fact, in regards to molecular singlet oxygen, beta-carotene is nearly 50 times more eﬀective than Vitamin E.
In other words, beta-carotene can help slow down skin aging processes.
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Studies have shown that beta-carotene can protect the skin from sun damages, and reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. It also protects lipids in the intercellular matrix from oxidation, thereby slowing down skin aging.
In fact, it provides a natural SPF of 4.
However, scientists have also found that UVA rapidly destroys beta-carotene in cells, which indicates it is a good idea to replenish the skin with beta-carotene rich ingredients especially after sun exposure.
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Beta-carotene stimulates the melanogenesis process by saturating the nuclear receptors of melanocytes and/or binding protein. It also inhibits the synthesis of melanin through blocking the activity of tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for the induction of melanin biosynthesis. In addition, because it is a vitamin A precursor, it helps brighten the skin by stimulating cell turnover, so that old cells with excess melanin can be shedded faster.
This essentially means it can brighten the skin, and reduce hyperpigmentation.
In fact, in a study of 31 adults (26 females and five males) clinically diagnosed with melasma, topically applied beta-carotene helped reduce or even eliminate the discoloration.
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