Carotenoids to provide UVA protection

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Uva, Ultraviolet

An Israeli biotechnology firm is marketing a carotenoid product
that promises to protect against UVA damage; capitalising on the
current concern regarding inadequate levels of UVA protection.

The products come in both oral and topical forms but contain the same active ingredients, namely the carotenoids phytoene and phytofluene. The oral supplement PhytoflORAL and the topical applications IBR-TCLC and IBR-CLC have been on the market for some time, as anti-aging ingredients, however the company, Israeli Biotechnology Research (IBR), has decided to market the products' UVA protective qualities. The company specializes in the development of natural active ingredients, forming a partnership with Symrise (a global ingredients provider) in 2005 in order to market its cosmetics ingredient products. Phytoene and phytofluene work to limit the damage caused by UVA and UVB rays by both absorbing light rays in the UVA and B spectrum and helping to protect against free radical formation and damage. The phytofluene molecules absorb light in the UVA range and emit light in the visible range - therefore reducing the energy of the light from the shorter, harmful wavelengths to the less harmful, longer wavelengths. Furthermore, the two carotenoids appear to prevent damage to the DNA from free radicals produced from sun exposure. In addition, both phytoene and phytofluene appear to inhibit melanin synthesis under UV induced conditions, a positive quality as melanin, when irradiated with UVA rays, tends to result in the formation of damaging free radicals. This melanin inhibiting quality has made the products popular as skin whitening ingredients, finding a successful market in Japan. In the PhytoflORAL oral supplement ?-carotene and neurosporene have also been added, as they have significant absorption at the longer UVA spectrum, thereby providing additional UVA protection in the oral supplement. Both topical applications are available in all natural forms which use a natural olive derived oil as a replacement for the synthetic original. The company is keen to stress that the products are not sunscreens, instead they act to protect against damage caused by sun exposure, acting as a complement to the protection provided by sunscreens. The protective qualities of these carotenoids are not limited exclusively to sun care formulations; the ingredients are likely to become popular additions to many skin care and cosmetic formulations, from anti-aging moisturisers to foundations. The marketing of these products as ingredients that provide UVA protection coincides with the FDA's regulatory changes regarding UVA protection, which may help to boost industry interests. The proposal, announced last week, introduces new standards for the formulating, testing and labeling of over-the-counter sunscreen products, in particular introducing a rating system for UVA protection. The UVA rating system works on a scale of one to four stars. One star denotes a low level of protection and four the highest level of protection available in over the counter sunscreens. If the sunscreen is not awarded even a one star for low level UVA protection the proposals suggest that 'no UVA protection' be required on the front label near the SPF value.

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