UV filters


UV filters

Science that serves the skin.

What are UV filters?

'Have you seen the little piggies crawling in the dirt?' asked George Harrison in 1968. In fact, pigs have not been blessed with thick fur and therefore need protection from the sun. That's why, ignoring any etiquette, they gloriously roll themselves into the mud. Many ancient cultures used this kind of trick and tried different natural ingredients for sun protection, such as rice bran or jasmine. But the primary strategy among humans has been to adapt their behaviour and avoid spending time in the sun when their social status allowed it, like the famous Mediterranean 'siesta'.

Even today, with all that is known, it is difficult to find a sunscreen ingredient that is natural, effective enough and aesthetically pleasing at the same time. The advent of chemical synthesis (a reaction that allows the creation of new complex ingredients from simple materials) in the 19th century helped invent better and broader 'organic' UV filters. The first one was patented in 1930, but sunscreen lotions really became widely popular in the 1980s.

How do they work and what’s the difference between UVR, UVA and UVB?

Ultraviolet rays (UVR) are emitted by the sun, pierce through the atmosphere and the clouds and, although essential for life on Earth, they can damage the skin. Different frequencies of UV light can cause varying types of damage, mainly UVA and UVB. It’s common to say that UVA harm is more internal and not so visible on the skin, while UVB exposure causes burning and redness, but the important thing to remember is that they both can cause skin cancer and photoaging and that’s why we need to avoid overexposure.

Organic UV filters (the actives in sunscreens) work by absorbing UV rays into themselves so they can’t reach the skin. The more they absorb rays, the more they degrade and this is why sunscreens must be re-applied. It is commonly advised to do it after a swim or every two hours when UV exposure is high, also considering that you may have missed a spot the first time or unevenly spread the products. The UVB level of protection of sunscreens is assessed by the SPF (Sun Protection Factor), while UVAs have their own special logo.

Hello, sunshine!

But should we hide entirely away from the sun? The sun's rays also help us produce vitamin D, an essential vitamin that keeps our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. So, let’s consider all that with care and moderation. Try to assess your needs depending on the UV intensity where you are, the time of the year and your own skin sensitivity. If the conditions require protection, then cover yourself with clothes and a hat and reach for the shade. If, for any reason, you can’t apply those rules, then it’s probably time for sunscreen. 

Learn more about sun protection and suncare trends in this article.

Which UV filters does Lush use?

Octocrylene (OC)

Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (BMBM)

Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)

Fighting against animal testing

Rather than relying on historical animal data, we decided to have the organic UV filters we use tested on human cells. XCellR8, a laboratory that exclusively provides animal-free in vitro testing, focused on two crucial toxicology endpoints for cosmetics: genotoxicity and skin sensitisation. A safety assessment was then conducted internally at Lush, considering XCellR8 results and systemic toxicity. This helped us determine a safe dosage for each of our sun care products. Want some details on how these tests were carried out? Here you go.

The sunscreens' depth (known as SPF) and breadth (UVA broad spectrum) were evaluated by an American laboratory in 2014, when the range was first launched. This lab has a strict non-animal policy and has tested the products on human volunteers’ small areas of skin.

Discover the whole suncare range here

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