Constantly reapplying sunscreen during a relaxing beach day is a tedious task that many people dread. Fortunately, scientists have been looking into developing a DNA-based sunscreen that will not only protect your skin, but also become more effective the longer it is worn.

Sunscreen, goggles

How it works:

Studies have shown that excessive exposure to UV light can damage DNA. So, as Guy German expressed in a statement, he and his team thought, “let’s flip it. What happens instead if we actually used DNA as a sacrificial layer? So instead of damaging DNA within the skin, we damage a layer on top of the skin.”

Essentially, they took DNA from salmon sperm, a readily available source, and dried it into a film on a piece of glass. This process is similar to the way glue dries and becomes a thin film either on your fingers or a different surface. Once completed, this DNA film was exposed to UVA and UVB rays and was shown to reduce transmittance of UVB light by up to 90% and UVA light by up to 20%.

Even more astounding though, this DNA film becomes more light-resistant the longer it is exposed to light. The research team is not entirely sure why this happens, however, they have theorized, as German says, that there are “two possible mechanisms… one is called hypochromicity, that is the increased ability of DNA molecules to absorb UV light, but also we found that the results that we got suggest a crosslinking density of the cells themselves.” A denser crystalline structure of the film would then be better suited to absorb or reflect more light.

Where it stands:

To clarify, this DNA film tested is not actual sunscreen yet and you will not be able to find it on shelves. However, it may well be part of the future of a more effective sunscreen, as opposed to the current, chemical-filled sunscreen that needs many reapplications throughout the day.

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Sophia Xiang

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