Sun Care Special Newsletter

We need to talk about IR: Coty focuses on infrared radiation and sun protection

By Andrew MCDOUGALL contact

- Last updated on GMT

We need to talk about IR: Coty focuses on infrared radiation and sun protection

Related tags: Free radicals, Ultraviolet

When we think of sun care and sun protection we often concern ourselves with UV exposure, but we should also be protecting ourselves against infrared radiation according to Coty, which has been developing products for this purpose over the last few years.

The adverse effects of infrared radiation have not traditionally received as much attention as its UV cousins, but Marc Pissavini, Coty R&D director, tells that an excess of exposure to IRA rays can cause skin changes similar to those caused by UV light, namely, inflammation and premature photo-ageing.

Research into IR radiation began over 10 years ago and Coty has spent a lot of time studying free radicals that are caused by IR – a topic that itself is quite new.

“Of course, it depends on the dose,”​ says Marc Pissavini. “If you are not in the sun for too long then the infrared is not harmful, but if you stay in the sun too long this can be harmful, and it could create free radicals, which can then have a harmful effect on skin cells, and could be a big issue.”

“We have proof, from many different studies, that infrared creates a big amount of free radicals. The first was published in 2008, and we have since worked on it to try and find a solution – searching for a raw material that can protect against infrared rays.”

Develop raw materials

This research led Coty to identifying an ingredient which can reflect the infrared rays coming from the sun, but also can absorb the free radicals generated by the infrared: a two-step solution.

The sun care maker has been using this reflecting pigment mixed with antioxidants that focus on free radicals created by infrared, in the same formulation as the UV mix of ingredients to offer a fully protecting product, for the past three years, and Marc believes the focus on IR will be greater in the future too.

“We know that free radicals are not good for our bodies, and we know that infrared creates free radicals, so with all the research being done it will be a big focus going forward,”​ he says.

“The industry was focused on UV more so than infrared, as infrared is quite new. Now we are seeing more raw material suppliers offering an infrared solution. We are now seeing more people talking about infrared – it is the beginning of this focus and these products.”

Infrared radiation

The adverse effects of the sun’s radiation on skin is well documented and ultraviolet light (UVA and UVB) is often rightly the focus of sun care products; but the sun's infrared rays can also penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin.

The sun omits radiation, all on a continuum, UVA, UVB, as well as infrared. Pissavini explains that the energy of infrared is very low compared to UV but you receive much more infrared radiation than UV – 50% for infrared, and 6-10% for UV.

“So it is less energetic but you receive more – so we need to find a balance to deal with the potential harmful effects,”​ he adds.

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