Natural Products as Potential Sunscreens
Rebecca Rathlef
Prince of Wales Secondary
Floor Location : M 148 H

Due to the high rates of skin cancer, sunscreen is a necessity. The majority of sunscreens on the market are made up of UV blocking molecules that absorb the ultraviolet light. In recent years some areas have banned the use of these chemicals due to their perceived effects on coral reefs. As a result, a natural product that absorbs UV light would be beneficial to both humans and the environment. The goal of this project was to determine whether natural products could be used sunscreens. I hypothesized one source of such product could be plants, as they require a means of protecting their DNA from damage. After conducting some research, I learned that plants contain a group of chemicals called flavonoids, which have been found to absorb UV light. One example is chamomile, a flower that has been found to contain moderate amounts of apigenin, a flavonoid that blocks as wide range of UV light. I created extracts of the chamomile in oil, water, and alcohol, and tested it using an assay I developed. A coconut oil chamomile extract performed the best of the group, and blocked statistically significantly more UV rays than regular coconut oil. Over a longer term test, the chamomile extract still provided some UV protection, however it did not perform as well as a commercial sunscreen. This project shows that sunscreens derived from natural products are a definite possibility, that we may want to exploit.