Do plant oils and extracts protect from UVA and UVB? To what extend? This article shares what spectral analyses studies reveal about plants based photoprotection. One of the most common questions asked regarding the oils I have tested in my home experiment, was whether they protect from UVA and UVB radiation. The short answer is yes and the full answer is this: “Successive increments in the number of absorbing molecules in the path of the beam of monochromatic radiation absorb equal fractions of the radiation power travel through them”
Evolved to harvest light, plants absorb sunlight to produce sugars in a process of photosynthesis. The molecules involved in this process are type of pigments that capture the energy of specific wavelengths and transfer it to the site of photosynthesis. However in some conditions, sunlight has the potential to damage the machinery plants use to collect light and that in turn inhibits their ability of optimal function and growth.
Last year marked the 3rd summer without me using commercial sunscreen. What I used instead were various blends of plant oils I have been mixing at home. That memorable week I received a delivery of oils by brands I have not tried before and curious how they would compare - and also worried about using them on my then 20 month old daughter - I decided to do a simple home experiment using tape and oils on my husband's totally untanned back.
“3-benzylidene camphor (3-BC) (…) is used in sunscreen products in EU, at a maximal concentration of 2% . After topical application to rats for 65 days (60–540 mg/kg/day) 3-BC was detected in all analyzed tissues, including the brain (concentration 0.13–1.2 μg/g), suggesting that similar disposition and distribution may occur in humans . Though not detectable in urine of Danish children , the compound was found in human placenta .” “Unfortunately, the effects of repeated, long-term and low-dose exposures to single compounds and mixtures of various UV filters is also poorly studied. More studies are needed to evaluate the realistic hazard of contemporary sunscreens. Furthermore, it is also timely and meritorious to advance studies on alternative, safer and more efficient UV filters.”