UV-blocking potential of oils and juices

Int J Cosmet Sci. 2016 Aug;38(4):354-63. doi: 10.1111/ics.12296. Epub 2016 Jan 29.


Objective: Sunscreens are commonly used to protect the body from damage caused by UV light. Some components of organic sunscreens have been shown to pass through the skin during wear which could raise toxicity concerns for these compounds. This study explores the potential for oils and fruit and vegetable juices to be substitutes for these compounds.

Methods: The absorptivity of various oils (canola oil, citronella oil, coconut oil, olive oil, soya bean oil, vitamin E, as well as aloe vera) and fruit and vegetable juices (acerola, beet, grape, orange carrot, purple carrot and raspberry) was measured in vitro. The mean absorptivity was compared with FDA-approved UV absorbers to gauge the potential of the natural products. The most promising candidates were incorporated into formulations, and the UV transmittance of a 20-μm-thick film of the formulation was measured. The formulations were also imaged by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.

Results: The absorptivity of oils was at least two orders of magnitude lower compared to the commercial UV blockers. The fruit juice powders were more effective at UV blocking but still showed an order of magnitude lower absorptivity compared to commercial UV blockers.

Conclusion: The UV blocking from most natural oils is insufficient to obtain a significant UV protection. Formulations containing 50wt% purple carrot showed good UV-blocking capabilities and represent a promising ingredient for sunscreen and cosmetic applications.

Keywords: UV protection; UV-VIS/Fluo/CD spectroscopy; emulsions; formulation skin care; stability; suncare; texture.

MeSH terms

  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • Sunscreening Agents