Supplying topical exogenous antioxidants to the skin may prevent or minimize free radical-induced damaging. This study determines antioxidative capacity of a topical skin care emulsion (an oil-in-water vitamin E-containing formulation) versus its vehicle on human skin that was exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) by utilizing a photochemiluminescence device and biophysical methods. Ten healthy Caucasians (3 male and 7 female; mean age 47 ± 10 years) were enrolled. In a randomized and double-blind manner, a pH-balanced vitamin E emulsion or its vehicle control was applied onto predesignated forearm prior to UVR exposure. Thirty minutes after application, these test sites were exposed to a UV light to induce the minimal erythema dose. One untreated site served as a blank control. Visual scoring and instrumental measurements were recorded at baseline and at 24 h and 48 h thereafter. At day 3, after completing instrumental measurements, each test site was stripped three times in a consecutive manner with a proprietary adhesive tape disc. These tapes were quantified for antioxidant capacity using a photochemiluminescence device.Vitamin E emulsion and vehicle control significantly (p < 0.05) suppressed visual scores when compared with blank control at day 2 and day 3 after UV exposure. However, vitamin E emulsion showed significantly (p < 0.05) lower visual scores when compared with vehicle control at day 2 and day 3 after UV exposure.Also,vitamin E emulsion and its vehicle control significantly (p < 0.05) diminished skin color measurement (a*) values when compared with blank control at day 2 and day 3 after UV exposure. At day 2 after UV exposure, only vitamin E emulsion significantly (p < 0.05) reduced skin blood flow volume when compared with blank control. Vitamin E emulsion and its vehicle control showed significant (p < 0.05) reduction of blood flow volume when compared with blank control at day 3 after UV exposure. Vitamin E emulsion and its vehicle control proved effective in preventing induction of erythema and reducing inflammatory damage caused by UV exposure. The effect of vitamin E emulsion exceeded that of an ‘active control’.

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