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English ivy is a super safe sunscreen

August 11, 2010 Reviewed by Marta 3 Comments
A scientist who wondered how ivy clings so tenaciously to fences or walls made a breakthrough discovery that the aerial roots of the plant are covered in nanoparticles. These tiny particles  are 1,000 times thinner than the diameter of a human hair create the ability for the vine leaves to hold almost 2 million more times than its weight. Not only do they cling on surfaces for dear life, but they can absorb and scatter light in the UV spectrum. This makes ivy a potential sunscreen ingredient.

And a powerful one at that. Researchers said ivy protection from ultraviolet light is at least four times better than mineral sunscreens.

Unlike the nanoparticles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that currently form the basis of mineral sunscreen products, ivy nanoparticles do not absorb and scatter light in the visible spectrum, meaning they remain almost invisible when applied to the skin.

More importantly, ivy nanoparticles have a more attractive safety profile that the metal-oxide nanoparticles, according to Mingjun Zhang at the University of Tennessee.

Zhang’s team investigated the degradability of the ivy nanoparticles as well as their potential to cross the skin barrier and their cytotoxicity. After 24 hours there was no toxicity seen with the ivy nanoparticles; however, with the same concentration of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, significant toxicity to HeLa cells was seen.

The team thinks it unlikely that the ivy nanoparticles would manage to cross the skin barrier, but if they did it has been established that would not degrade and cause cellular damage.
  • September 19, 2010

    by priya

    Are you saying that you have English ivy sunscrenn in your store? I have been unable to use any sunscreen at all for 25 years and would like to try this one.


  • August 13, 2010

    by Shannel

    Wow. English Ivy. Didn't see that one coming. Can't wait for an even greener sunscreen to hit the market. :P

  • August 11, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Geez, sounds too good to be true! I wonder how long it will take for this to get to the marketplace, and not be adulterated with a bunch of nasties. Makes me wonder if the biblical fig leaf was, in fact, an ivy leaf. :)

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