Skincare Active Ingredients

Polypodium Leucotomos – Complete Guide

Polypodium leucotomos is a fern grown in Central and South America. Extracts from its aerial parts are rich in polyphenols and are said to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant (|can neutralize free radicals), and photoprotective effects.

Now polyphenols can be divided into flavonoids (flavanols, flavonols, and anthocyanidins) and non-flavonoids (phenolic acid and stilbenes).

The most abundant polyphenols in Polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE) are phenolic acid (caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, p-Coumaric acid, ferulic acid, vanillic acid).


  • It enhanced plasma antioxidant capacity (neutralized free radicals).
  • It decreased ultraviolet radiation induced damage to DNA.


  • It showed a significant reduction in sunburn response.
  • reduced photoaging.
  • Fibroblast survival and maintenance of profilerative capacity after UVR exposure.


  • It showed a decrease in neutrophil macrophage infiltration after UVR exposure.
  • It also showed a decrease in local and systemc UVB-induced immunosuppression.

Other potential benefits of PLE for skin:

  • It can act as a photoprotecter.
  • It might help with pigmentary conditions like melasma, and vitiligo.
  • Might help with photodermatoses (polymorphous light eruption, solar urticaria).
  • Inflammatory disorders like atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.

Is Polypodium Leucotomos extract (PLE) safe to take?

PLE is safe to take everyday at 240/mg. There are doses ranging from 120-1080 mg/day.

Will the active ingredients of PLE get to skin after oral intake?

If you’re taking PLE orally, it will get into your blood, and then end up on the skin, but not everything that gets into the blood ends up in the skin.

Use of Polypodium Leucotomos extract on different skin conditions

Polypodium Leucotomos extract on photoprotection:

  • PLE increases minimal erythema dose (MED).
  • PLE lowers the intensity of ultraviolet radiation-induced erythema.
  • PLE increases the dose required for immediate pigment darkening, minimal erythema dose, and minimal phototoxic dose.
  • PLE treated skin showed fewer histological (structure of cells) changes secondary to UVR.
  • Note: these clinical trials don’t have a lot of evidence.

Polypodium Leucotomos extract on melasma:

PLE’s photoprotective effects along with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have the potential as an adjunctive treatment in melasma.

Polypodium Leucotomos extract on photodermatoses:

Polymorphous light eruption:

Polymorphous light eruption is an itchy skin rash caused by exposure to UV light.

The number of patients was 53, 24 and they were given a dose of 480 mg/day. They showed improvement in symptoms such as itching.

Solar urticaria:

Solar urticaria is the eruption of itchy hives on exposure to sunlight. The number of patients was 4,2 and they were given a dose of 480 mg/day. The 2 patients in the study did not show any improvement.


50 patients were randomized into 25 groups. One group received PLE + NBUVB (phototherapy treatment), while the other received Placebo + NBUVB.

Lighter skin individuals with patches on the head and neck area had a better response.

Psoriasis and Atopic eczema:

PLE did not show any improvement in patients with psoriasis and atopic eczema.


Polypodium leucotomos extracts demonstrated photoprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects in several in-vitro and in-vivo studies, and it is mainly because of polyphenols present in the extract.

Clinical trials also proved that PLE worked, but there was limited evidence to support benefits in humans.

When it comes to sun protection and melasma, it’s better to use normal topical sunscreens, skincare actives (retinoids, vitamin B, and vitamin C), and in-office procedures. PLE can also be added to the mix, but it can never replace sunscreen.