I’ve recently come across a product sold on Instagram claiming to be a drinkable sunscreen from @NikSkin.sg, which is a Singapore based company.
The product is call Phyto-sunplus(R) and is sold as an oral skin supplement that acts as a sunscreen, hydration, anti-aging, and skin whitening. Obviously, being from an Asian country skin whitening is going to be a major marketing point as it’s one of the biggest factors that affects purchasing. In North America and Europe, you may see skin brightening instead of skin whitening because of regulations revolving around the term skin whitening. It’s also suppose to help with eczema and skin sensitivity issues as well.
Sounds like it would be a pretty awesome product to try? The science on it is a little more confusing.
The product itself is listed like many other supplements. It’s packed with antioxidants in a single serve package that easily fits in a gym bag, purse, or drawer. The product comes in a powder form that you add to the drink of your choice. I have not found if they recommend anything in particular like orange juice, milk, or water. The reason that matters is fat solubility, acidity, and temperature of the drink may deactivate some antioxidants. Overtime you’re suppose to see benefits such as overall skin improvement and a sunscreen type capability. It’s even marketed as ‘Oral Sunblock’. There is some data to suggest a long term program might improve natural sunblock capabilities; however, the quality of the data is very limiting (small sample size, few replications, few independent studies). Many of the mechanisms proposed are largely theoretical and missing several data points necessary for robustness. Some were clinician evaluations and others were self-evaluation. Studies are not double-blind. Patients served as their own controls which is generally a rather LARGE no-no in study design.
After reading several articles from the company and some of the earlier work that led to these findings, I’m not convinced products like this will be able to make good on their claims. It’s also not a substitute for sunblock. Positive findings took 3 months before an improvement was seen and even then that improvement was only 10% in skin’s natural capabilities. If I’m understanding how they’ve interpreted their findings, it’s an SPF 0.1. That’s almost nothing and far below what any dermatologist would recommend for daily use.
I don’t wear anything less than an SPF 30 and generally I’m wearing an SPF 40+, which exceeds dermatologist recommendations.
In general I’m not opposed to taking antioxidant supplements. We don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables to provide us with the necessary antioxidants and it’s the easiest way we can prevent a large number of cancers and heart disease. In general, antioxidants are really good for our overall health.
Historical background of ‘Drinkable Sunscreens’
In 2017, a company by the name Osmosis Skincare and Harmonizing Water was sued for consumer fraud after claiming their drinkable sunscreen provided an effective SPF 30. The company settled out of court. The makers claimed their drink contained radio waves that vibrated at such a frequency that UVA and UVB waves were repelled. Ben Johnson, the owner of the companies, had previously given up his Colorado issued medical license in 2001 and is licensed in California but does not see patients.
Hopefully you can see why I approach the ‘drinkable sunscreen’ claim with a healthy dose of scepticism. I’ve seen it before and I’m sure I’ll see it again.
Osmosis Skincare is still a functional company; however, the drinkable sunscreen is no longer available. It was rebranded as a Joint Support Supplement and has since been taken off the market so far as I can tell. Ben Johnson’s blog posts are still available on Dermstore’s blog although the product links no longer work. It’s an interesting read because there are some serious claims present that if true would win him a Nobel Prize or several.
Science and time will tell if we’ll be able to drink our sunscreen. That would be a pretty easy means of delivery. It’s a lot easier to get kids to drink something than to sit still enough to put sunblock on their faces. Until that time comes, stick to multi-vitamins and sunblock. There’s still nothing that will replace that time honored tradition.