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Tomato, Tomoto: Why Your Skin Needs Lycopene

Contact Author Karin L. Hermoni, Lycored
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If we didn’t already have enough reasons to love tomatoes, we can now add the nutrients gained from tomatoes to our skin care regime. Tomatoes containing the nutrient lycopene can give us that natural inner glow we are searching for. Lycopene is a red nutrient in the carotenoid family that gives tomatoes their signature hue, and it quenches free radicals and induces the body's ability to cope with oxidative stress and inflammation. It is also a great food derived antioxidant with many skin benefits that span the entire skin wellness spectrum including skin health and beauty.

Teaming Up With Phytonutrients

As mentioned, lycopene is the main tomato carotenoid that gives the fruit its red color. The tomato also contains colorless carotenoids phytone and phytofluene that have been associated with a beneficial effect on skin wellness and longevity. Skin active vitamins such as vitamin A and E are also naturally present in the tomato. Lycopene works best for skin when it can team up with all of these tomato phytonutrients that have been found to synergize and enhance benefits of lycopene.

These phytonutrients can also help protect the collagen network by balancing core processes like oxidative stress and inflammation, thus reducing the degradation of the collagen. Whether we choose to supplement with collagen or not, using natural phytonutrients can help us protect the collagen network and allow it to thrive in our skin for a youthful look. 

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Additionally, tomato phytonutrients have been linked to helping skin cells better cope with environmental challenges. For example, in complementing a sun-conscious lifestyle and the use of sun screen tomato carotenoids may boost the skin's natural resilience and support a healthy relationship with the sun. While these mechanisms may be more apparent in some skin types such as fair or sensitive skin, they can certainly benefit any skin type and create a healthy foundation helping skin cope with different challenges of daily living.

Team Tomato

Eating the whole tomato or supplementing with tomato-based products will provide better nourishment to our body and skin compared to supplementing with lycopene alone. Carotenoids such as lycopene are oil soluble, and research shows that when tomatoes for example are cooked in oil (preferably a healthy oil like olive oil) the lycopene absorption is optimal. If you prefer your tomatoes raw, like in a salad, you can add olive oil or avocado for best results. If you are supplementing, it is more beneficial to do that with your main meal that contains some fat. It is also important to note that some dietary antioxidants work together to synergistically potentiate skin benefits. For example, active ingredients from rosemary work well with the carotenoids from tomatoes.

Topicals and Ingestibles

It is also important to know that ingestible carotenoids and those present in our topical products can work together to enhance the overall benefit and increase the antioxidants level in the skin. It was shown that carotenoids from ingestible products contribute even more to the accumulation of carotenoids in the skin compared to the topical, so prioritize a healthy diet to go with your carotenoid mask.

However, a holistic skin care program that combines ingestible carotenoids, starting at the kitchen and optimizing as needed via supplementation, with topical products will allow for best results. Today we understand that skin care and beauty is a holistic lifelong journey that starts from the inside and reflects on the outside. A healthy and active lifestyle, healthy diverse nutrition and ingestible skin care approaches are all part of beauty as are our emotional physical and mental wellness. This is the foundation on which beauty can thrive.

Karin L. Hermoni, Ph.D., is head of science and the nutrient complex manager at Lycored, the global leader in natural carotenoids for food, beverage and dietary supplement products. She holds a doctorate degree in biochemistry from Ben Gurion University in Israel, and her research has focused on the effects of phytonutrients and specifically tomato carotenoids on various aspects of human health, including skin health. Dr. Hermoni oversees Lycored's pre-clinical and clinical studies including planning specific trials, scientific writing, and publication.

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