Safety and efficacy concerns drive innovation efforts in cosmeceuticals. For example, the toxicity of some chemical sunscreen agents has been in focus in recent years. Photo- aging is accelerated by exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, and prolonged sun exposure over a period of several years is reported to increase the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens serve to protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation, and the toxicity of effective dose levels of synthetic sunscreens in terms of potential damage to the body is a matter of great concern. A recent study reports the possible endrocrine disruption effects of certain sunscreens, and approved sunscreen ingredients, such as octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) and 4-methyl benzylidene camphor (4-MBC), have been found to show estrogenic activity in in vitro and in vivo studies.
Certain natural extracts are reported to function as sunscreen boosters, allowing lower effective doses of conventional synthetic sunscreen actives to be used in a formula. In related research, several natural antioxidants have been shown to augment the effects of sunscreens by trapping free radicals that exacerbate sun damage.