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Derms weigh in on the benefits of polypodium leucotomos

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WEveryone knows how important it is to wear sunscreen every day. And yet, according to new research, only 11 percent of American adults actually do. What’s more, the small number of people who to be smearing themselves with the stuff on the reg, nearly two-thirds of them don’t bother reapplying. “The number of times a week I get the question, ‘When are they going to make a pill to just protect my skin? all high,” says board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engleman, MD. And while we may not be quite there yet, thanks to an ingredient called polypodium leucotomos extract (or “PLE”), sun care gets a pretty big boost.

PLE is a natural extract derived from a South American fern and is packed with antioxidants that help the skin naturally protect itself from UV damage. “We know that UV light creates free radicals, which are harmful to the skin, and PLE helps protect against those free radicals,” says Dr. angel man. Free radical damage creates something called “oxidative stress” in the skin, which is responsible for inflammation that causes everything from collagen breakdown to hyperpigmentation.

According to board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, PLE has also been shown to reduce the severity of sun allergy (known as polymorphic light burst), and is believed to provide some degree of protection against UVA rays, which are associated with premature aging [and skin cancer]† In addition, a 2015 study sponsored by Ferndale Healthcare® to study Heliocare® found that taking 240mg of the stuff twice daily for 60 days was a “safe and effective way to reduce the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation” , and clinical trials conducted by ISDIN found that PLE protects against solar erythema – also known as sunburn and redness – which helps prevent future problems such as hyperpigmentation, accelerated photoaging and collagen breakdown. As board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD puts it, “It’s great!” But – and this is a… big but-derms agree that “it still isn’t a substitute for sunscreen.”

Even if you use PLE every day, you still need to practice other good sun care habits — and that includes wearing sunscreen.

PLE has been around for a few years now through a product called Heliocare ($30), but is becoming more and more available as more brands start incorporating it into their offerings. This month, ISDIN launched SunISDIN Soft Gel Capsules ($50), which Dr. Engleman calls a “turbo-enhanced beauty vitamin” that “protects the skin from sun exposure.”

“The skin is our main level of defense against the outside world, and of course we want the strongest barrier to help fortify against all aggressors, be it pollution, UV exposure, [or something else]Dr. Engleman says. “We want that armor to be as strong and reinforced as possible to keep us healthy. As a bonus, well-functioning skin shows fewer signs of aging like brown spots and wrinkles, so Dr. Engleman says, ” Healthier skin is more beautiful skin.” But even if you use PLE every day, you still need to practice other good sun care habits — and that includes wearing sunscreen.

†[PLE] doesn’t have enough SPF to be safe for full protection,” she says. Instead, she wants people to see it as the “safety net” for their current routine. “As much as we hope people follow all the rules of protection against the sun, the reality is that most people don’t reapply as often as they should, don’t apply the right amount, or they miss spots.” PLE, she explains, adds an underlying level of protection so that you’re covered, even on the (hopefully very rare) occasion when you forget to put sunscreen, and on those oft-ignored spots like your scalp and eyelids.

“The thing about sun protection is that it’s not just one thing — it’s a whole host of behaviors that lead to the best skin,” says Dr. angel man. “This is part of that equation.”

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