Existing sunscreen lotions typically work by either absorbing ultraviolet rays or physically blocking them. Most commercial options have limited efficiency, pose risks to the environment and human health or are not stable. Previous studies have revealed that commercially available sunscreen lotions contain toxic chemicals that can increase your risk of cancer and other health issues. In a bid to provide natural options scientists have now turned to components found in algae.
The research team led by Vincent Bulone from Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues used algae's natural sunscreen molecules, which can also be found in reef fish mucus and microorganisms, and combined them with chitosan, a biopolymer from crustacean shells. Tests revealed that their materials were biocompatible, stood up well in heat and light, and absorbed both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation with high efficiency.
The study said, "Inspired by the strategy developed by fish, algae, and microorganisms exposed to UV radiations in confined ecosystems, we have constructed novel UV-protective materials that exclusively consist of natural compounds." These findings may lead to novel kind of shield against the sun's rays that could protect not only people, but also textiles and outdoor materials.
The research is published in the ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.