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UofA Licenses New Type of Sunscreen to Mexican Firm

University of Arizona has made history once again with the creation and licensing of a non-penetrating sunscreen formula – the first of its kind.

The sunscreen has been licensed to MexiAloe Laboratorios, S.A de C.V. The company is a subsidiary of the food distribution firm Novamex. Novamex was a key investor in the product well before its final development and made a deal with University of Arizona’s Tech Launch Arizona branch for exclusive licensing of the formula.

The patent-pending product answers growing worries in the consumer market about sunscreen seeping into skin where the intruding chemicals could possible do harm.

The product was developed by UA professor Douglas Loy and graduate student Stephanie Tolbert. Loy, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the school’s colleges of science and medicine, said that the idea came from Tolbert. The student brought the idea to Loy through her interest in working in the cosmetics industry and, specifically, addressing the issue of sunscreens passing through skin.

The duo used an entirely different idea than previous sunscreen formulas to keep the offending chemical, oxybenzone, out of the skin. In many recipes on the market, the oxybenzone is encased in a shell to try to keep it from getting into skin. However, Loy and Tolbert knew that this method was ineffective because the shells would break down and lose their purpose when used.

With their method, the pair bound the oxybenzone to a larger molecule. This makes it so that the oxybenzone itself is part of a structure that the skin does not let pass through. According to Loy, “The entire particle would somehow have to get through your skin for it to get inside you, and there’s no way for that to happen.”

This type of innovation is not unknown to the University of Arizona, who already collaborates with many Mexican universities and research institutes. Breakthroughs like these only strengthen interests in cross-border cooperation and lead to further advancement.


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