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June 2, 2022

Why Plant Pigments Feature in Your Favourite Skincare Products

Why Plant Pigments Feature in Your Favourite Skincare Products
GLOWSO’s Natalie McGrath tells us all about lutein and zeaxanthin, the phytonutrients protecting us from free radicals.

Natalie McGrath is a qualified naturopath with neatly twenty years’ experience in women’s health. She founded GLOWSO, a natural collagen supplement company, to unite natural ingredients with scientific backing; the rise of lutein and zeaxanthin is key to these kinds of ingestible supplements, so we asked her to tell us about them and how they help your body.

So, what are lutein and zeaxanthin?

Lutein and zeaxanthin are types of carotenoids, which are a class of phytonutrients that are found in the cells of a wide variety of plants, algae, and bacteria.

They are also a type of plant pigment responsible for some of the bright red, green, yellow, and orange colours found in many plants, fruits, and vegetables – they’re responsible for the beautiful pigments in the marigold flower. Among the many roles they play in plants, they are a very powerful antioxidant that protects the plants from free radical damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin play similar roles in humans when we ingest them.

Interestingly, lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids found in the eye. There has been a lot of research backing the benefits of these superhero plant extracts in helping improve eye health, with studies indicating they can delay and even prevent the progression of many eye diseases. One of the ways lutein and zeaxanthin work is by protecting the cells in the eyes from damaging free radicals, which are caused by oxidation; they can also protect from the harmful effect of some light sources, such as UV light and blue light.

A little more on blue light

In the next few years, it’s estimated that 90% of all indoor light will be from sources of high-energy blue light. Prolonged exposure to blue light may increase the risk of macular degeneration. The fact that blue light penetrates all the way to the retina (the inner lining of the back of the eye) is important, because laboratory studies have shown that too much exposure to blue light can damage these light-sensitive cells.

Blue light and skin

We all know the impact that UV light has on our skin, but we are only now finding out how blue light impacts us. It has been shown that long-term blue light exposure (as well as concentrated sources of blue light energy) can cause skin damage, including colour changes, inflammation, and weakening of the skin’s surface. Simply put, blue light promotes stressors in the skin that cause photo-aging; that is, aging from exposure to light.

There is mounting evidence that blue light contributes to brown spots on the skin, hyperpigmentation such as melasma, and possibly the breakdown of collagen, which leads to wrinkles and skin laxity.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the new kids on the block for skin health

Our skin is the boundary between us and the outside world, and it’s under constant attack from free radical damage from environmental sources, like harmful light exposure, toxins, and pollutants. Lutein and zeaxanthin are among the powerful carotenoids that work as antioxidants, helping us neutralise these free radicals. Human skin is packed full of these carotenoids that serve as a defence force for our living cells. In a 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled parallel study, lutein and zeaxanthin were shown to improve overall skin tone, skin lightening and brightening, and skin protection.

Youthful, glowing skin and healthy eyes can last a lifetime with some help from important nutrition, and one of those key elements is including lutein and zeaxanthin. Eat an abundance of foods packed with these superstars, such as pumpkin, oranges, corn, carrots, spinach, kale, and broccoli. Taking a supplement with lutein and zeaxanthin is also very beneficial!

If you liked this article, you might like our feature on vitamin C skin serums.

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