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Two people snorkeling under bright sunlight.
Outdoor activities under bright sun can be a prescription for painful sunburn. SoyScreen, developed by ARS chemists, is a soy-oil-based sunscreen product that has inspired a new class of cosmetics ingredients, called skincare bio-lipid actives.

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Soy Discoveries Lead to New Class of Cosmetic Ingredient

By Jan Suszkiw
August 17, 2007

When Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemists Joe Laszlo and Dave Compton originally developed SoyScreen, they envisioned outdoor enthusiasts and other consumers using their invention as an environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based sunscreens.

Instead, SoyScreen—and the patented ARS method of producing it—became the technological platform from which iSoy Technologies Corporation of Cary, Ill., began launching a novel class of cosmetic ingredients called "skincare bio-lipid actives."

In February 2007, a variation of SoyScreen formulated by iSoy—ferulic soy glycerides (FSG33)—made its commercial debut as a key active ingredient in a wrinkle-prevention skincare product marketed by a major cosmetics company in New York City.

FSG33's burgeoning commercial roots began with bio-lipid reaction experiments that Laszlo and Compton conducted in 1998 at ARS' National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill. There, they devised an enzyme-based method to make an all-natural sunscreen from soy oil and ferulic acid, a natural antioxidant that filters out UVA and UVB sunlight.

Later, through a cooperative agreement between the Biotechnology Research and Development Corporation (BRDC) and ARS, the chemists' formulation method—called biocatalysis—was shown to improve the solubility, stability and delivery of other skincare actives in a range of bio-lipid-based cosmetics products. The BRDC is a Peoria-based, private for-profit consortium of chemical companies that identifies, funds and licenses promising new technologies for commercial development.

In 2005, iSoy obtained an exclusive license on the ARS-patented SoyScreen technology. With assistance from Laszlo and Compton, iSoy successfully scaled up production of SoyScreen and expanded on its cosmetic properties.

Besides the wrinkle prevention product, iSoy is seeking to market FSG33 in anti-aging and protective soaps, cleansers and haircare products, according to iSoy president Ray Willis. The company expects to develop at least 25 new bio-lipids based on the ARS technology. Soy Screen's commercialization as FSG33 dovetails with the ARS Peoria center's ongoing mission to develop new, value-added products from crops, particularly corn and soybeans.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.