Edible Sunscreen Would Be Great If It Actually Worked

Photo: Uvo, Heliocare

Why on earth would you put sunscreen directly on your skin when you could take supplements in liquid or pill form and cross your fingers that their active ingredients make it to your epidermis?

A young woman in Houston told the New York Times that she likes the supplement Heliocare because “it’s a pill, it’s easy to take, there are no side effects, it’s safe. So why not?” She works as a physician’s assistant (oy) and has recommended the pills to many patients.

Why not? Because it isn’t entirely clear whether products like Heliocare and drinkable Uvo are safe and effective. Since they’re both marketed as supplements, their manufacturers don’t need approval from the Food and Drug Administration in order to make health claims like offers “3 to 5 hours of sun protection” and helps “protect against the aging effects of free radicals.” Dermatologists basically called them bullshit.

Just take a look at the disclaimer on Heliocare’s site: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Contrast that with the labels on FDA-approved sunscreen; under the “uses” section, it reads “helps prevent sunburn” and “if used as directed with other sun protection measures (see Directions) decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun.” They could not be more different.

It’s unclear whether the people in the Times story use these products in place of or in addition to sunscreen, but there are folks who would rather drink woo juice than use sunscreen because the latter is too taxing, or they’re concerned about chemicals. Sunscreen is safe, but if you still don’t trust it for whatever reason, get formulas with the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These are physical blockers that are proven to help prevent damaging sunburns — you know, the things that cause wrinkles, brown spots, and skin cancer.

Edible Sunscreen Is Not a Substitute for SPF