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Study Shows Tree Extract Can Possibly Act As ‘Natural Sunscreen’

Redhead News: Extracts from the Southeast Asian tree, Thanaka, may offer natural alternatives for sun protection

According to Cosmetics Design, a website providing news & analysis on cosmetics formulation & packaging in North America, there is a new study from Malaysia and the UK indicating there may be potential for a new natural sunscreen derived from tree extracts. The plant is called Thanaka and grows in Southeast Asia.

This is exciting news for redheads because sun protection is vital for our skin. Many sunscreens contain harmful chemicals and a more natural alternative may also be good for those of us with sensitive skin.

Let’s break this down:

What is natural sunscreen and how is it different from normal sunscreen?

We all know sunscreen is a topical product that protects your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. SPF stands for “sun protection factor.” It’s a numerical estimate of how well a product protects your skin from ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Broad-spectrum sunscreens go a step further and protects your skin from the sun’s UVB and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.

There is worry that some common chemical sunscreens contain harmful ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. There was a scare in 2021 when benzene, a harmful cancer-causing chemical, was found popular sunscreen brands.

Many are now turning to natural sunscreens.Most natural sunscreens use active ingredients from plants to coat the skin and reflect UV rays off the dermal layers. The active ingredients tend to be made of minerals, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, as opposed to chemicals.

Does natural sunscreen work? 

This is a common question and is still being worked out. Some effective natural sunscreens and sunblocks reflect or scatter both harmful UVA and UVB rays. But when using plant-based ingredients for sunscreen, some are not powerful enough and can’t provide a substantial UV filter. Some ingredients like zinc oxide have proven to be the most effective natural barrier.

What is Thanaka and is it a powerful natural sunscreen? 

Thanaka is a tree that grows in Southeast Asia and extracts from this type of tree have been used for hundreds of years as a form of traditional skincare. A few of the uses include anti-aging, acne treatments, and even sun protection. 

Modern cosmetic products with Thanaka extracts can be found in countries like Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand. As more research is done, Thanaka may be an option for a more natural form of sun protection. 


Choosing which sunscreen to use is a personal choice, but it’s important to know the difference between chemical and natural sunscreens. No matter what, make sure you’re always wearing sunscreen! Redheads are more prone to melanoma than any other hair color (with or without sun exposure) and you don’t want to mess around.

Rock it like a Redhead!