Chances are you’ve never heard of Porphyra Umbilicalis, but most of us know Sushi. Sushi is acidified rice with meat, fish or vegetables rolled in seaweed, also called Nori in Japanese. Nori seaweed comes from the edible Porphyra Umbilicalis. Porhyra means ‘Purple’ in Greek, in practice the seaweed is red-purple to black in color.
In recent years, seaweeds have received a lot of attention because of their natural protection against ultraviolet light (photo-protective) and unique bioactive substances. These photoprotective substances include mycosporin-like amino acids (MAAs), sulfated polysaccharides, carotenoids and polyphenols. Mycosporin-like amino acids in particular are used as a natural bioactive ingredient in cosmetic products and ultraviolet (UV) protection.
Ultraviolet light, the invisible part of sunlight
Sunlight consists of UV, visible light and infrared. UV light is an energy-rich radiation and can damage organic molecules such as proteins, lipids and DNA and lead to the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and tissue.
UV light can be separated into UVB and UVA. The short wavelength of UVB is absorbed in the epidermis and causes direct DNA damage. UVB is responsible for sunburn and can cause skin cancer.
UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause damage in the dermis. UVA produces free radicals that lead to the breakdown of the proteins, collagen and elastin, the main structural components responsible for the skin’s firmness and resilience. Medically we call this dermatoheliosis, also known as photoaging of the skin. The skin is thickened, wrinkled and discolored. Click here for publication in the New England Journal of Medicine, a photo of a truck driver with unilateral dermatoheliosis. This photo has gone around the world.
Unlike UVB, UVA is only partially absorbed by glass and clouds and is less dependent on time of day and season. UVA rays are just as strong on a cloudy, rainy December afternoon as on a sunny June afternoon.
Porphyra Umbilicalis – MAA’s
The red alga Porphyra umbilicalis, also called nori, grows on rocky shores. The alga is greenish when young, later turns purplish red and grows up to 20 cm in length. The Porphyra species are a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals and are therefore commercialized as sea vegetables. As nori, it is mainly consumed in Asian dishes and is a traditional Celtic and Native American food.
Seaweeds have received a lot of attention for cosmetic skin care applications due to bioactive substances such as mycosporin-like amino acids (MAAs). Most MAA-producing seaweeds are red algae, followed by brown and green algae. These molecules are also found in cyanobacteria, phytoplankton, lichens, sponges, shrimps, sea urchins and sea stars.
Also research has been conducted in the use of natural and environmentally friendly MAAs in sunscreen to protect the skin against UV rays. MAAs have the strongest UVA absorbing compounds in nature. These molecules have a low molecular weight and are water soluble. Among other MAAs, porphyra-334 has been extensively studied. A study showed that a cream with MAAs containing 0.005% porphyria-334 was able to neutralize UVA photodamage as effectively as a cream with 1% synthetic UVA filters and 4% UVB filters.
Iconic Elements Daycream natural UVA filter
Iconic Elements Daycream natural UVA filter contains red algae – MAA’s. The trio Algin (natural red algae), macadamia oil and shea butter is formulated to moisturize the skin and protect it against harmful factors, such as ultraviolet radiation UVA.
The natural UVA filter allows vitamin D production in the skin.
What is the difference with an SPF protection?
Sun Protection Factor – SPF says something about the degree of UVB protection and nothing about protection against UVA rays. Sometimes UVA protection is included in the day cream, but not always. Look closely at the ingredients.
Now that you’re here
In the Netherlands, the number of people with skin cancer is increasing explosively. In the year 2021, approximately 82,800 Dutch people were diagnosed with a form of skin cancer. The KWF expects this trend to continue.
It is important to know which type of skin cancer you have. The 3 most common skin cancers are: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (PCC) and melanoma. More about Skincancer, what now?