If you follow my blog regularly, you already know how I feel about most of the sunscreen sold in stores. I believe that at best, most of the formulas are not as effective at protecting your skin as large companies want you to believe. At worst, they can actually do more harm than good. Thankfully, there has been a push in the scientific community to find a sunscreen that don’t potentially poison the body with synthetic chemicals.
A number of studies conducted within just the last year have found new sources of skin care ingredients. One of the most promising of these studies was done by Rutgers University, where researchers studied the effects of caffeine on cancer caused by UV rays. Though caffeine was already shown to protect against UV-induced cancer when taken orally, this research focused on the topical effects of the famous stimulant.
The Rutgers researchers used mice to determine the effectiveness of caffeine when applied to the skin and found that it reduced the likelihood of cancer by 72%. It appears that caffeine offers similar protection to humans too. Numerous studies have found that regular coffee drinkers had fewer occurrences of skin cancer than those who drank decaf coffee or avoided coffee all together. Great news for habitual coffee drinkers (like me!).
Caffeine isn’t the only thing that researchers have been investigating when looking for new ways to protect the skin. Research done by Dr. Paul Long at King’s College London has focused on coral and how it manages to get all the sunlight it needs to thrive without burning. Because coral needs sunlight for photosynthesis, it must live in shallow water where it is vulnerable to overexposure.
It turns out that algae living within coral reefs create a compound that is transported to the coral. The coral then modifies this compound to create its own sunscreen which protects both the coral and the algae. One of the long-term goals of King’s research is to figure out if this compound can be used to manufacturer sunscreen for human use. Dr. Long sees his research as also having humanitarian potential, saying “If we [can grow this compound] in crop plants have been bred for high yield . . . this could be a way of providing a sustainable nutrient-rich food source, particularly in need for Third World economies.”
If you could buy a sunscreen made from all-natural ingredients instead of the processed, chemical-ridden stuff sold by most companies, wouldn’t you? I know I would! Does the idea of putting coral or even algae on your skin sound too weird? Let us know what you think below.
If you’re interested in making your own all-natural sunscreen, see our last post.