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Broccoli: a new sunscreen that lets in vitamin D

Reviewed by Marta April 29, 2008 1 Comment
About the only thing I am ever likely to agree with George H W Bush on is that broccoli is inedible. So if they get pulped to become a sunscreen ingredient that would be, in my opinion, a fitting fate. And, indeed, the vegetable has turned up in Verdure Matte Moisturizing Physical Sunscreen with Anti-oxidants.  Curiously, Verdure bills broccoli as an anti-oxidant along with red and green tea. The sunscreens are non-chemical zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. I find this a little odd because it has recently been discovered that broccoli has the properties of a very unique kind of sunscreen.

In tests on people and mice, broccoli extract successfully prevented cancer caused by light and it did so in a really interesting way. Sunscreens usually provide a barrier to either UV or UB rays. This means that they also block out vitamin D. Broccoli works by stimulating the body's own cancer protection mechanisms. And once they get switched on they can keep going for days after you've showered off the sunscreen. Best of all, you will be protected but not missing out your much-needed daily dose of D.

Verdure's coyness about using broccoli may be due to the fact that the research, conducted at the John Hopkins School of Medicine, is so new. The other problem that may slow down the use of broccoli in sunscreens is that the pigment, which could give you a Martian hue, is difficult to remove.

UPDATE 5/6/2008: I ordered a tube of Verdure Matte and it has just arrived. There is a huge laundry list of ingredients. Most of them are emollients and silicones. Unfortunately, there are two many known irritants as well: sodium hydroxide (very low levels will irritate); phenoxyethanol; ethylhexylglycerin; and hexylene glycol.
  • May 14, 2008

    by Elisabeth Shim, MD

    <p>Dear Marta,</p>

    <p>We thank you for ordering and featuring Verdure Matte Moisturizing Sunscreen with Antioxidants in your blog, however, I would disagree that the sunscreen is irritating. </p>

    <p>We have sold and distributed hundreds of units of sunscreens since our launch and have not to date had any complaints of irritation. In fact, all of Verdure's products are in the Contact Allergen Replacement Database of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, which highly scrutinizes products. The ingredients that you listed were included for specific reasons such as pH balance (the sodium hydroxide) and phenoxyethanol (a preservative). In order to make a stable and elegant formula, these types of additives are a necessary evil, particularly with a mineral-based sunscreen, and they are put in minute amounts. We are just as concerned about toxicity and irritation as you are and take it very seriously. In fact, we use commonly used databases to scrutinize all of our ingredients, such as that put out by the EWG. Our sunscreen is highly regarded and is the first to contain broccoli and the combination of green and red tea extracts. It is free of parabens, propylene glycol, fragrance and oil and has the highest rating of water resistance. </p>

    <p>Sunscreens are some of the most difficult and expensive products to formulate, which explains why many large companies use chemical sunscreen agents to boost SPF. We chose to forgo this route, and we are confident that consumers will enjoy this sunscreen as much as the editors of Allure and Lucky have, since it made both their lists this spring. </p>

    <p>Sincerely yours,</p>

    <p>Elisabeth K. Shim, MD<br />
    President and Founder, <br />
    Verdure Botanoceuticals<br />
    </p>

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