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Asta-what? Here's how The Back Up's rockstar ingredient works

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We’re committed to keeping our ingredient list simple AND transparent. That means helping you understand exactly why we’ve selected our rockstar ingredients, put them in a gummy, and asked you to give them a coveted spot on your skincare shelf.

Because that’s no small request, we’re taking it seriously. Science, but make it...readable?

On today’s docket: a breakdown on Astaxanthin (AZ-tuh-ZAN-thin), the rockstar ingredient behind our soon-to-release second gummy, The Back Up.

What is Astaxanthin?

The short answer is: Astaxanthin is an antioxidant.

The long answer: Astaxanthin is from a class of molecules called carotenoids.

Carotenoids are famous for their intense color. In fact, astaxanthin has a whole Crayola box of pigments to its credit. It makes tomatoes red, sweet potatoes orange, and egg yolks yellow. It also colors marine foods; think the pink in salmon and the red in shrimp.

The red in some algae comes from astaxanthin, too. In fact, that’s where we harvest the astaxanthin we use in The Back Up. Though astaxanthin can be derived from synthetic sources, we prefer to keep it natural.

red algae

How does Astaxanthin work?

So now we know that astaxanthin is an antioxidant. And an antioxidant is...what?

Antioxidants are our skin’s best defense against environmental stressors—the factors like smog, sunlight, and stress that place a burden on our skin cells (see How do antioxidants for skincare work, anyway? to really nerd out on this topic!). When our skin gets the antioxidant support it needs, whether through diet, ingestible skincare, or topical support, it can handle this stress.

But when that burden overwhelms our antioxidant stores, we see visible signs of aging. That might look like wrinkles, dark spots, or uneven skin tone—signs that our skin isn’t getting what it needs.

Our original gummy, The Base Layer, relies on the antioxidant power of Polypodium Leucotomos (PLE), which comes from a class of antioxidants called polyphenols. But as a carotenoid, astaxanthin works slightly differently.

Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant. But it also fights inflammation and specific signs of aging, like wrinkles. In fact, we built The Back Up around astaxanthin’s powerful age-reversing, anti-inflammatory effects.

You know we nerd out on research, and our bar is pretty high. We want to see our star ingredients showing real results in real people, not just a petri dish. Multiple human clinical trials have confirmed astaxanthin can:

  • Decrease the appearance of wrinkles
  • Decrease the size of age spots
  • Improve the elasticity (tightness) of our skin
  • Improve the texture of our skin
  • Improve the hydration of our skin

In studies, researchers didn’t just observe those changes—they confirmed them by looking at the actual molecular markers that show skin aging.

Plus, we’re keeping our eye on new research indicating astaxanthin might help us combat specific environmental stressors like UV light.

pool of red astaxanthin being poured

Why The Back Up deserves a place on your skincare shelf

Unlike some of our favorite topical ingredients (see What are the best ingredients for skincare?), the best way to score all the benefits of astaxanthin is by taking it orally—we call that ingestible skincare. It’s also really important to take a natural, rather than a synthetic, version of this antioxidant.

Couldn’t you get astaxanthin from food? Sure, you’ll get a small amount of astaxanthin with a serving of salmon or some seaweeds, but when we say “small amount” we mean “too small.”

Can’t we apply astaxanthin in a lotion, potion, or cream? You might spot topical formulations with astaxanthin, but we like to make decisions based on data, and the data better supports supporting your whole body and skin from within.

While The Base Layer is designed to protect your skin from environmental stress, we created The Back Up to help reverse the visible signs of aging you already see on your skin.

Astaxanthin plays particularly well with other antioxidants, like the PLE polyphenols in The Base Layer. That means that together, these products protect you from the environmental stress threatening to zap the life out of your skin AND help undo years of less-than-stellar protection.

So that’s the lowdown on astaxanthin. But we want to hear your questions about this (or any of our) ingredient(s). Seriously, no nagging question is too small. Drop us a line at help@getsundaily.com. We’re all ears!

bottles of sundaily the back up gummies

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