Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Bioproducts Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #388165

Research Project: Bioproducts and Biopolymers from Agricultural Feedstocks

Location: Bioproducts Research

Title: Safer sunscreens: investigation of naturally derived UV absorbers for potential use in consumer products

item Hart-Cooper, William
item Orts, William
item Thompson, Aubri
item JOHNSON, KAJ - Method Products, Pbc
item CUNNIFFE, JULIA - Former ARS Employee

Submitted to: ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/4/2021
Publication Date: 6/27/2021
Citation: Hart-Cooper, W.M., Orts, W.J., Thompson, A.J., Johnson, K., Cunniffe, J. 2021. Safer sunscreens: investigation of naturally derived UV absorbers for potential use in consumer products. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. 9:9085-9092.

Interpretive Summary: Chemical sunscreens are under increasing scrutiny for their human and environmental hazards. We describe the hazards and performance of next-generation, bioproduct sunscreens and compare them to conventional ingredients.

Technical Abstract: Topical sunscreens are widely used to prevent sunburns and long-term skin damage including cancer. Recently, conventional chemical UV absorbers have been criticized and in some cases banned for adverse human and environmental health impacts. In this investigation, we evaluated naturally derived UV absorbers including vitamins, polyphenols, carotenoids, and amino acids to determine safety and efficacy profiles. Human and ecological hazards were evaluated, as well as the in vitro sun protection factor and critical wavelength. These attributes were compared to commercial UV absorbers such as octinoxate and oxybenzone to determine viability in personal care products. We found that resveratrol, ferulic acid, and ethyl ferulate demonstrate significant UV-absorbing capacity and lower hazard levels compared to current-use sunscreen active ingredients.