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Brief Published: 27 Aug 2015

Natural, Ethical Sun Protection

A new study points to algae and reef organisms as key ingredients for an ethical, natural sun cream

A new study reveals the potential for natural, environmentally friendly sun cream based on algae and marine extracts – offering beauty brands the opportunity to further develop for eco-conscious beauty consumers.

Scientists from Sweden, Spain and Australia claim to have developed a natural UV-protective sun cream in the study, published in the American Chemical Society’s Applied Materials & Interfaces Journal. By combining UV-resistant properties found in algae and reef micro-organisms with chitosan (a biopolymer produced from crustacean shells), a product that is biocompatible, photoresistant, thermoresistant and able to absorb both UV-A and UV-B radiation can be produced.

Traditional sun creams are damaging to the sea’s ecosystems as non-biodegradable ingredients in the formulations can break down coral reefs. This new formula features natural compounds that are biodegradable and therefore less damaging.

The formula is still in its infancy, but further research and development could offer lucrative investment opportunities for brands as consumers search for natural, ethical and sustainable sun-protection solutions. According to global consumer research company Kline, the natural and organic personal care market registered double-digit growth in 2014, reaching $30bn in global sales.

American actress Jessica Alba’s Honest beauty brand recently came under fire after many consumers developed severe sunburn while using its sell-out natural, organic sunscreen lotion. Perfecting a formula that boasts “honest” values alongside solid scientific credentials could be a lucrative move. 

For more on sun-protection developments in fashion and beauty, see Intelligent Bikini, Dr. Skin’s Drinkable Suncare and Drinkable Suncream.