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Slip, Slop, Slap May Not Be Working

The sunscreen that you slip, slop, and slap on yourself before heading out into the sun might not be as effective as you think.

"The thickness of the coating of your sunscreen is important," said Ian Miller, of Carina Chemical Laboratories Ltd, in the Hutt Valley.

"If you put on only a thin coating, you get only partial protection. Think of it as putting white paint on a black surface. The thinner the coat, the more of the black you see. The equivalent of seeing the black with sunscreen is getting UV light onto the skin.

“The way most sunscreens are formulated, sweating washes the screen off the skin. It irrigates it, causing channels and holes," said Dr Miller.

Dr Miller's research aims to identify and remove these defects in sunscreens, and his work is urgently required because of New Zealand's rate of melanoma – one of the highest in the world.

“Good sunscreens should protect against both UVB and UVA light,” said Dr Miller.

“Bleaching removes the screening power, rendering the sunscreen useless. The best UVB sunscreens are more resistant to bleaching in the oil phase, and the best UVA screens resist bleaching in the water phase.”

One problem has been to find a medium to maximise the stability of both screens.

Another problem has been to come up with an agent to help release the sweat so that it can evaporate.

Dr Miller has been developing an agent to solve these problems.

The research is an investment of the Foundation for Research Science and Technology and has been helped by Industrial Research Ltd scientist Dr Gerald Smith.

“We are negotiating with a New Zealand manufacturer for possible licensing and production of a new sunscreen formula. The best markets are Australia because of its extra sunshine, and the United States because of its sheer scope and its health consciousness,” said Dr Miller.

For further infomation:

Dr Ian Miller, Carina Chemical Laboratories Ltd. Tel 04 567 9534
ian.miller@xtra.co.nz]

Madeleine Setchell, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Tel 04 9177 806, Mobile 025 40 60 40
madelein@frst.govt.nz, www.frst.govt.nz


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