Question: What does microencapsulated UV blockers mean in sunscreens?
When sunscreen UV filters are microencapsulated, that means they are coated with a special coating to make them more stable and less reactive. These coatings can be made out of silica, enzymes, or other kinds of polymers. Microencapsulated sunscreen actives may also be developed into time-released formulas, which will enable sunscreens to remain effective throughout the day. However, this technology must be further researched and developed.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles are often microencapsulated to prevent them from potentially forming free radicals when exposed to sunlight. Sunscreen manufacturers are also experimenting with avobenzone, a chemical UV blocker that is notoriously unstable, microcapsules to help make it more photostable. These properties from microencapsulation will all enable sunscreen manufacturers to make cosmetically elegant sunscreens that protect against a wide range of UVA and UVB rays.
Aside from stability issues, a major concern about chemical sunscreen blockers and nanoparticle sunscreen agents is how safe they are to use. The idea behind microencapsulation is that microencapsulating sunscreen actives prevents them from being absorbed into the skin and makes them less penetrating and therefore safer to use. However, more research must be done to confirm these effects.
In the mean time, the function and effectiveness of microencapsulated UV filters is still be decided. If a special coating can make sunscreen actives safer, more agreeable, and more photostable though, it will be very interesting to see what kinds of sunscreens the future beholds.
Last updated: September 8, 2012
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