UPDATE: You'll see in the comments, that Chris bought this product and found that it does contain chemical sunscreen actives. Specifically: avobenzone 3%, octinoxate 7.5%, octisalate 5%, and oxybenzone 6%. I can only hang my head in shame. I should point out that the manufacturer's website doesn't list the actives anywhere and definitely implies that its all down to the antioxidants. Very misleading. Don't you hate being lied to by a sunscreen.

We've all heard of - and probably own - an anti-aging potion that also contains a sunscreen active. Hi-ORAC-8 ($25) flips this on its head: its a sunscreen that claims to be an excellant anti-wrinkle cream. And what makes this product (launched without much fanfare a few months ago) is that is doesn't even contain a sunscreen active.

If this thing works, then I for one will be ordering it by the truckload. The reason is simple. Chemical sunscreen actives can be irritants or worse. Even mineral sunscreens, while safe, are less than adequate with fairly limited protection and typically leaving a chalky residue on the skin that could get you a bit part in Phantom of the Opera. Furthermore, I've been noticing that researchers seem to be finding that vitamins and antioxidants do the job of a sunscreen anyway - without the downsides.

For example, vitamins (especially E and C) have been shown in several studies to boost the effectiveness of active sunscreen ingredients. Vitamin E seems to be better at boosting UVB protection while vitamin C is stronger against UVA. A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology claims that vitamins C and E with sunscreen offers more protection than sunscreen alone. Meanwhile, another study on vitamin A (in the form of retinyl palmitate) was shown to be just as good as a sunscreen rated at SPF 20.

This is the theory behind Hi-ORAC-8. Take eight antioxidants - green tea, pomegranate, cocoa, carrot, coffee, vitamin E, Vitamin D, and vitamin A - and, voila, you have a blend of proven ingredients that a) prevent photoaging, b) protect against skin cancer and c) help maintain the skin's natural melanin levels. Now, I must say that the thought occurs to me and not for the first time, that given this is a fairly typical antioxidant line-up we may be achieving similar results with some of the other potions we use.

Still, Hi-ORAC-8, which comes with SPF of 15 or 30 plus there's an after sun moisturizer and a tanning oil, looks worth checking out (despite the parabens, phenoxyethanol and silicones).

Ingredients in Hi-ORAC-8 SPF 30

Water, Stearyl Alcohol, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Cetyl Palmitate, Stearic Acid, Amphisol, Glycerin, Super Antioxidant Complex [Camillia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Extract, Daucus Carrota (Carrot) Root Extract, Cofea Arabica (Coffee) Extract, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Acetate, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D), Retinyl (Vitamin A) Palmitate], Dimethicone, PEG-40, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Triethanolamine, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Titanium Dioxide, Pyrus Armeniaca (Apricot ) Fruit Extract, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel Extract, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Carbomer, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylates Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben,Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben