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Nature’s Own Sunscreen

July 22, 2017

Growing algae to harvest nature’s own sunscreen could replace synthetic varieties, sometimes blamed for adverse effects on human skin. “These tiny, microscopic algae that are living in the sea protect themselves against the harsh sun rays and they do this by producing a suite of compounds that have very high absorption properties,” says Dr. Carole Llewellyn, Associate Professor of Applied Aquatic Bioscience at Swansea University, “so they actually screen out the harsh conditions of the sun, the ultra-violet rays.”

The research, published in the European Journal of Phycology, compared synthetic sunscreens with natural ones. They say an algae sunscreen could offer numerous benefits over common synthetic varieties…sometimes blamed for causing skin irritation, disrupting the body’s hormone cycle and even damaging the environment and entering the food chain.

“By growing the algae under UV we can actually increase the amount of the sunscreen compounds and then eventually we hope to get high enough concentrations to make it economically viable to actually incorporate into commercial sunscreen products,” she says.

—Matthew Stock reporting for Reuters

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