Nothing ages the skin more than the sun. Cigarette smoke, bad sleep and a bad diet are close seconds. When too much sun turns us red and scaly and causes skin damage that prematurely ages us, give tomatoes a try. Yes, tomatoes, or tomato paste.
Tomatoes have a potent antioxidant, lycopene, that not only protects us from oxidative stress but also helps protect our skin from damaging UV rays. Lycopene especially helps prevent resulting erythema ( redness/inflammation) from the sun. Longterm erythema and inflammation leads to aging skin.
One randomized controlled trial published in the British Journal of Dermatology showed that women who supplemented with tomato paste following a sun burn had decreased erythema ( redness/inflammation), and a significant increase in a protein that stimulates collagen production. Collagen is the vital skin protein, located in the inner layer of the skin, that helps maintain the skin’s shape, integrity and youthful look.
Another study compared tomato paste and olive oil to olive oil alone in relation to sun burn. At the 10 week mark, the group supplementing with tomato paste had significantly less erythema ( 40% less) than the olive oil group. There was no measurable difference at the 4 week mark, only at the 10 week mark. So, if you plan on supplementing with tomato paste for healthier-looking skin, perhaps it is best to do it on a regular basis, continuously.
Br J Dermatol. 2011 Jan;164(1):154-62.
J Nutr. 2001 May;131(5):1449-51.