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Sun Protection: Scientists Developing Sunscreen, Skin Moisturizer From Cyanobacteria

Update Date: Jan 16, 2017 03:04 AM EST

With record-breaking high temperatures and the continuous depletion of the ozone layer due to greenhouse gasses, people are recommended to use sun protection. However, most sun protection products are synthesized. Currently, scientists are developing sunscreen and skin moisturizes from biological sources like the cyanobacteria.

The research, published in the European Journal of Phycology, is developing the use of cyanobacteria as an alternative biological source for sunscreen and skin moisturizers. Cyanobacteria are blue-green algae with species that can live in extremely arid places. They produce compounds that have the ability to cope with high UV radiation and extreme dehydration.

Mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs) provide strong screen protection against longwave UV radiation while compound scytonemin provide strong screen protection against shortwave UV radiation. These compounds are possible candidates as alternative biological sunscreens to currently used synthetic UV filters.

On the other hand, substances like extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) are derived from cyanobacteria are able to retain moisture much better than the currently used synthetic moisture preserving materials.

The use of cyanobacteria as an alternative sunscreen and skin moisturizer is better than currently used sunscreen and skin moisturizers derived from synthetic compounds. Not only is it natural, it would lessen the possible side effects like contact sensitivity and estrogen mimicking to its consumers. The production of sunscreen and skin moisturizers from cyanobacteria would not be harmful to the environment.

According to lead author Peyman Derikvand, one of the advantages of the use of biological compounds like cyanobacteria is that the organisms have the ability to self-renew and reproduce. This ensures that the sources for the sunscreen and skin moisturizers are sustainable.

Cultivating cyanobacteria also needs fewer resources as it only needs light energy, carbon dioxide, and some basic nutrients. It would also not compete with agricultural resources as it can be grown under closed cultivation.

However, the large-scale production of cyanobacteria for use in cosmetics is a key challenge. The researchers recommend the need for further examination on the successful cultivation of cyanobacteria for mass production. The study is also looking into improving the economic and feasibility of large-scale production of cyanobacteria.

The study sees the demand for the use of cyanobacteria not only in the cosmetic industry but other business sectors. The researchers are currently looking into other possible uses of cyanobacteria as there is high demand for the use of natural compounds.

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