Chances are you’ve grown to love seaweed as a snack, or a crucial ingredient in your sushi order, or because of the awesome antioxidant effects it can gift your skin. But there’s a whole new reason to appreciate the leaf of the sea: It can absorb UV rays—thus saving your skin from sunburns—while also saving the environment.
According to Science Daily, new research from King’s College in London shows that a compound found in seaweed could help protect your skin from sun damage without causing harm to marine ecosystems. (So no, you can’t just gather some seaweed, grind it up and lather it on your back the next time you’re lounging beachside.) The study, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, is a breakthrough in the hunt for eco-friendly, non-toxic, Kourtney Kardashian–approved, chemical-free skin-care solutions.
“There are significant concerns that conventional sun protection products are having a negative impact on the environment,” says Antony Young, PhD, senior author of the study. “Marine-derived sunscreens may be a possible solution.”
“There are significant concerns that conventional sun protection products are having a negative impact on the environment.” — study co-author Antony Young
Many sunscreens work by absorbing or blocking ultraviolet rays, but they do so with a cocktail of chemicals that aren’t good for your skin or the environment—those chemicals eventually make their way into water systems, according to the researchers. The scientists behind the new study wanted to find a way to protect the earth and human skin at the same time, and found that a mycosporine-like amino acid and antioxidant called palythine, which is found in seaweed, can in fact protect against UV radiation in human skin cells.