Nature's colour changers inspire Amorepacific transparent sunscreen

Material uses same mechanism as chameleons and colour-changing algae to avoid leaving white marks on skin

The R&D Center at South Korean cosmetics company Amorepacific has announced the development of a transparent inorganic sunscreen material.

Developed in collaboration with Sungkyunkwan University, the porous micro-material provides a UV ray reflecting solution that doesn't leave white marks on the skin.

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the most commonly used inorganic materials utilised in sunscreen compositions to reflect UV rays.

Drawbacks to these materials, however, include clumps forming in the formula and the creation of a 'white cast' on application, due to their high refractive index.

Dr Li Yan from Amorepacific’s R&D Center Material Lab partnered with Professor Lee Gi-ra and his lab in Sungkyunkwan University Chemical Engineering to conduct a joint research project addressing these issues, the results of which were published in the journal Particle & Particle Systems Characterization.

Through this study, the team were able to evenly synthesise and assemble micro-sized spherical silica particles that are hollow in the middle.

The film produced from these particles can be adjusted to have even air bubble sizes and gaps in between, allowing the reflection of visible light and UV spectrum rays.

Moreover, the team discovered that by matching the refractive index, they were able to more effectively reflect UV rays while ensuring the particles remained transparent in the visible spectrum, in a mechanism similar to the way chameleons or green algae quickly change their skin colour by scattering light.

“The recent research results we have announced are very meaningful as we came to possess a platform technology to develop innovative inorganic materials,” said Park Won-Seok, Head of Amorepacific R&D Center Foundation Innovation Lab.

“We will continue to verify the potential of this platform through clinical trials on skin.”

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