Expert lifts the lid on the latest sunscreen research

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ultraviolet Sunscreen Uva

New innovations in sunscreen formulations are leading to
significant breakthroughs in sun protection that should cut back on
the risks associated with sun exposure, an expert from the American
Academy of Dermatology says.

According to Henry Lim, chairman of the department of dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, some of the most ground-breaking advances have come about in the area of UV protection - with UVA rays being singled out in particular.

Speaking at the American Academy of Dermatology summer scientific meeting, Lim pointed out that having been initially developed to protect primarily the UVB rays that cause actual sunburn, sunscreens are being increasingly developed to tackle the damaging effects of UVA rays, too.

In the past two years scientific evidence has pointed to the fact that in the long-term UVA rays are perhaps more damaging that UVB rays because they managed to penetrate deeper into the skin's dermal layer.

The scientific research suggests that UVA rays contribute to the skin aging process as well as contributing to a heightened risk of skin cancer.

This evidence has caused UVA to become the 'holy grail' for sunscreen formulators, who have been busy perfecting products that provide maximum protection for both types of UV rays.

In his speech Lim pointed out that new technology has allowed manufacturers to combine and stabilize specialize block both UVA and UVB rays in special formulations - but not without significant challenges.

"Existing sunscreens that contain Parsol 1789, or avobenzone, do a good job of blocking UVB, but their protection against UVA starts to weaken after a few hours of sun exposure,"​ said Lim.

"The new formulations combine avobenzone and oxybenzone, are much more stable and retain their ability to protect against UVA for a longer period of time."

So what is around the corner with regards sunscreen formulation?

Lim says that currently researchers are investigating how natural anti-oxidants like vitamin E, beta carotene and vitamin C can protection against the skin. Additionally the anti-oxidant properties of green tea and fish oil are also being investigated.

The big advantage for these type of sunscreens is that they can be taken orally to provide all-over skin protection, which means not having to apply sunscreen and worrying about re-applying it throughout the day.

Indeed the first oral suncare products have started to appear on the market and are being well received.

Claimed to be the first oral sun care product on the market, Heliocare is marketed as a supplement and contains extract from the South American fern plant polypodium leucotomos that are said to provide comprehensive protection from both UVA and UVB rays as well as photoprotection.

Related topics Formulation & Science Skin Care

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