Enjoying more time outdoors but want to avoid a sunburn? Fortunately, carrot juice can help reduce your risk of sunburn and help you get a healthy “tan.”

Slathering on a safe, effective sunscreen is an important first step. But remembering to reapply often can be hard. And if you are fair skinned and must be out in the sun for most of the day, you may need more than sunscreen to avoid a painful sunburn. You might also want a tan, but don’t want the wrinkles and sun damage that comes with extended UV exposure.

So how can carrot juice help?

Beta-Carotene for Sunburn Protection

The carotenoids and flavonoids in plants that protect the plant from UV damage also help us when we eat them. Studies show that a diet rich in carotenoids may contribute to life-long protection from harmful UV radiation.

Beta-carotene makes up most of the carotenoids found in carrots. Beta-carotene protects against sunburn by increasing basal defense against UV light damage to skin.

In one study, drinking 13.5 oz. of carrot juice daily led to a 45% reduction in sunburn. As someone that burns easily, that sounds pretty good!

In another study, researchers found that taking about 57 mg of beta-carotene a day for 10 weeks protected against sunburn. That’s about the amount found in 2.5 cups of carrot juice. Another study showed protection with the amount of carotenoids found in a smaller serving, about 1-1/3 cups of carrot juice.

Get a Carrot Juice “Tan”

While some people fear their skin turning orange if they eat too many beta-carotene rich foods, this isn’t likely to happen when beta-carotene consumption is below 20 mg a day. I have personally consumed 5 cups of carrot juice every day (from 5 lbs of carrots) for weeks on end and did not turn orange. But I did get a healthy glow.

Turns out this carrot juice “tan” has been studied in comparison with a normal sun tan. When shown images of a woman with a carotenoid tan vs. a UV tan, people preferred the carotenoid tan!

Carrot juice not only helps protect you from sunburn, it can also give you that healthy glow you are looking for – without the sun damage.

Carrot Juice Sunscreen?

While carrot juice does help reduce sunburn, it is not a replacement for sunscreen which can give you immediate protection. (To help you choose a safe, effective sunscreen product, check out the EWG’s Annual Sunscreen Guide.)

Photoprotection from carotenoids builds slowly. It can take 10 weeks of carrot juice consumption to build up protection to SPF 4 levels. But after that, protection continues to increase. And unlike sunscreen, you get all-day protection, even on spots you regrettably missed.

Carrot Juice Sunscreen Blends

Carrots work well with most fruits and vegetables, but for UV protection avoid blends with orange juice or other citrus fruits, as this can increase your susceptibility to sunburn. Try a carrot, apple, kale blend for the extra carotenoids found in dark leafy greens. Or try this  Apple Carrot Cranberry Ginger Juice recipe.

Do you drink carrot juice? Share your favorite carrot juice blends in the comments.