Oleg GawriloFF/ShutterstockIf you’ve ever looked at the back of a tube of sunscreen, you know that it contains a long list of chemicals—and here’s how to decipher that sunscreen label. Some sunscreen chemicals reflect or scatter the light away from the skin, while others absorb UV rays before your skin can. Together, they prevent sunburn and shield your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays; they’re effective enough that the number one skin-care tip you’ll hear from dermatologists is to wear sunscreen—everyday, whether you’re going to the beach, heading for the wintry slopes, or just planning to be outdoors. Even though sunscreen can literally save your skin, some people are troubled by the fact that the chemicals can penetrate the skin and be absorbed by the body. That’s a concern that science is addressing head on: The University of Arizona has licensed a new, non-penetrating sunscreen to MexiAloe Laboratories, a subsidiary of Novamex.
The formulation, developed by Douglas Loy, a UA professor of chemistry and biochemistry and materials science and engineering, and graduate student Stephanie Tolbert, binds oxybenzone—the active ingredient in most over-the-counter sunscreens—in a way that stops it from seeping into the skin, reports ScienceDaily.
Loy gives Tolbert credit for the invention. “Stephanie wanted to improve cosmetics by introducing sunscreens that wouldn’t pass through the skin,” he says. “In addition to being nonhazardous, we made the sunscreens last longer so they wouldn’t have to be reapplied as frequently.”
Conventional sunscreen covers the UV-blocking molecules in microscopic capsules, known as “pearls.” When you apply sunscreen, those pearls can split and release chemicals which the skin can absorb. Loy and Tolbert’s formulation uses chemical bonds to prevent the pearls from breaking down, allowing the block to work without worry of the ingredients reaching your bloodstream.
The end result is an industry first. While you’re awaiting the new products release—hopefully in 2018—don’t quit on your regular screen, and take care not to make these common sunscreen mistakes.