In the heat of summer, many people realise the need to slather sunscreen to protect their skin from getting crisped by the ultraviolet rays. But what if we have an alternative for “organic” to safeguard it from ultraviolet rays? Leila Deravi, an assistant professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology runs Biomedical Design Group at Northeastern University and Camille Martin, a former graduate student of Northeastern are working to recreate the sun-blocking chemical that naturally exists in cephalopods, species that include squid, octopuses, and cuttlefish.
Camille Martin says, “In the last 20 years, people started to get a little bit more conscious.”
Although, there are already two options available on the market. One is chemical-based sunscreen, which is absorbed by the skin but according to research, it gets seeped into the bloodstream and gets accumulated causing a safety risk to the people.
The other option is mineral-based sunscreen which is chalky, unsubtle, and rubs off on everything it touches.
Leila Deravis already studying on cephalopods, particularly the unique feature to camouflage and transmit signals with colour. She found the secret behind the squid’s colour change is the chemical called xanthammatin which can also safeguard it from harmful ultraviolet rays. This chemical can be used in a sunscreen product.
To set the third option in the market, Leila Deravi and Camille Martin are trying to integrate chemical and mineral-based sunscreen in one package using xanthammatin.
Camille Martin says, ”It’s not absorbing ultraviolet radiation; it’s really scattering light. That provides another mechanism of protection that is not found in other commercially available UV filters.”
The use of xanthammatin in sunscreen product is safe and is effective as pigment. Leila Deravi and Camille Martin are now moving to the next stage to discover how xanthammatin will behave in vivo model of human.