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Background

Sunlight, which includes ultraviolet (UV) radiation, is vital for human health and boosts mood and vitamin D levels. However, excess exposure increases the risk of skin conditions and diseases like sunburn, skin aging, and cancer. As the harmful effects of UV exposure are often mitigated through the use of UV blocking lotions and sunscreen, there is some concern about the toxicity of sunscreens’ active ingredients, though data on this topic are limited. Thus, there is interest in the use of natural compounds as an alternative to commercial sunscreen.

The study

This was a review of studies on the sun protection factor (SPF) value of natural compounds. SPF is used to compare the efficacy of a compound’s UV-blocking properties.

The results

While a number of natural compounds, including rutin, caffeine, and ferulic acid, possess UV-blocking properties, they are most effective when used in combination with commercial sunscreens, as their SPF levels are low and unstable. Adding these compounds to commercial formulas appears to increase overall SPF levels, and in some cases could even promote improved aesthetics and skin health.

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This Study Summary was published on August 6, 2020.