USDA touts bio-degradable soybean sunscreen

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sunscreen Ultraviolet

A sunscreen derived from soybean oil could become a commercial
product for consumers seeking natural forms of sun protection, says
the USDA.

The body says that the newly developed product will be known as SoyScreen after being granted an exclusive patent license on October 3, which was filed by its maker Illinois-based iSoy Technology.

The license stems from a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) in which iSOY is working with USDA Agricultural Research Service chemists to scale up production of SoyScreen, as well as create variations of it having different properties.

The research team developed SoyScreen at the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, where 100 full-time scientists explore innovative new ways to create value-added products from US crops, particularly corn and soybeans.

The developers say that they envision SoyScreen could be used in a variety of skin- and hair-care product. Increasingly manufacturers are incorporating sunscreens into a variety of products, including shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers and foundation, as consumers grow increasingly aware of the risks associated with exposure to the sun.

Likewise, such a move could also help to boost the soy industry, which is already a significant supplier of ingredients to the cosmetic and toiletry industry. Ingredients such as soy lecithin, hydrolyzed soy and soy isoflovones have become an important part of a cross-section of products, as consumers opt for formulations with natural-based and effective ingredients.

Supplying the industry is also helping to fuel growth in the market for soy oil in particular. Of the 17.6 billion pounds consumed domestically, 628 million pounds of soy oil is used for industrial purposes, according to the American Soybean Association.

ARS​ says that SoyScreen owes its sunburn-preventing properties to ferulic acid, an antioxidant in rice, oats and other plants. To keep the antioxidant from dissolving in water, its research team chemically bound it to soy oil using lipase enzymes and heat in an environmentally friendly process called biocatalysis.

The resulting lotion won't wash off from swimming or sweat, and is non-polluting, according to Laszlo, in the ARS center's New Crops and Processing Technology Research Unit.

In sun-protection-factor tests, ARS says that SoyScreen filtered out harmful ultraviolet light as well as four chemical UV absorbers: oxybenzone, dioxybenzone, octyl methoxycinnamate and padimate-O.

Related topics Formulation & Science Skin Care

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