Almost all the skin creams on the market claim they contain antioxidants. Indeed without antioxidants a cream is merely adding things to your skin with no beneficial value. The most commonly used antioxidants are extracts from tomatoes, green tea, and grape seeds. One of the most studied, and proven the best of the antioxidants is lycopene, that is responsible for the red color in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon and guava.
Natural lycopene has infinite more benefits than lyco-mato. Many studies have demonstrated the beneficial health benefits of topical antioxidant application; however, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Studies have shown that the Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is the major antioxidant in the human stratum corneum or outer layer of the skin. Low levels of this vitamin in the skin is an early and sensitive bio-marker of oxidative stress secondary to environmental pollutants, contaminants and the sun’s UV rays. Vitamin E is found naturally in human sebum and is brought to the epithelial surface via the sebaceous glands where it exerts its protective effect. Data suggests that topical application of antioxidants could support physiologic mechanisms to maintain or restore a healthy protective barrier to skin that is depleted in Vitamin E by environmental stresses.
It is proven in medical studies that lycopene, the most studied of the topical antioxidants, is the most protective. There are a few creams on the market that contain tomato extracts and only one cream that contains pure natural, organic lycopene. But are these creams the same? Some manufacturers say that there is little difference between the creams containing tomato extract and creams containing pure lycopene – well they are wrong and this hyperbole id simply for marketing benefits. If we dig deeper into this issue the medical journals reveal that there is, in fact, a difference. Studies were performed comparing lycopene alone to tomato paste extract. These two products were then incubated with cancer cells in the laboratory for 48 hours. After that period the two cell cultures were evaluated and the results showed that tumor cell growth was inhibited by 55% for the lycopene group compared to 35% for the tomato paste group, a significant difference.
In conclusion, lycopene is an extremely potent antioxidant that protects the skin from the stresses caused by environmental pollutants. It has significant anti-aging properties and may reduce the risk of developing certain forms of skin cancers. I would recommend that the consumer use a cream that contains pure lycopene to creams that contain powdered tomato or tomato extracts.