Lutein and Zeaxanthins’ Benefits Go Skin Health

Lutein and zeaxanthin also play an important role in the skin. Lutein is found is in the outermost lay of the skin, called the epidermis, and in the next layer, known as the dermis. Lutein, along with other carotenoids, is thought to contribute to skin color1 and to prevent the structural components of the skin from breaking down.2

Similar to their roles in the eye, lutein and zeaxanthin have two primary functions in the skin: as antioxidants and as filters that screens out damaging blue and high energy light from the sun.

Those roles are borne out in scientific research. In several studies, subjects receiving supplements using a combination of beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene experienced less erythema – the redness and swelling associated with sunburn – after exposure to UV light.3 Another study showed an increase in the level of hydration and fats in the skin after supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids.4

Lutein and zeaxanthin may also be effective when applied directly to the skin. One study compared oral supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin to the application on both nutrients on the skin. While supplementation was effective on its own, a combination of supplements with direct application to the skin provided the greatest protection.5


1 J Nutr. 2002 Mar;132(3):399-403
2 Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Feb;57(2):182-9
3 Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:853-64
4 Skin Pharmacol. Physiol. 2007;20:199–210
5 Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2007;20:199–210