Sunscreen with an SPF rating of 15 can block more than 90% of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Even with this protection, some light still penetrates the skin and creates free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that have an electron that they can release; it’s kind of like a chemical “bullet”. Antioxidants are like chemical “bullet-proof” vests. Free radicals can damage DNA. They can create age spots and wrinkles, depress the immune system and increase the risk of skin cancer. Vitamins E or C can help prevent skin cancer and keep skin firm and young looking.

Kerry Hanson, a postdoctoral research scientist in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics found that when exposed to ultraviolet light, the stratum corneum generates free radicals when exposed to ultraviolet light. The stratum corneum is the skin’s main protection against environmental assault.

Sunscreens do not offer protection against free radical damage. They merely block ultraviolet radiation. Sunlight still gets through and still produces free radicals. Adding antioxidants to the sunscreen could protect the skin from these free radicals.