Have you ever been so thirsty while sunbathing at the beach that you thought of opening your bottle of sunscreen and taking a swig? Yeah, probably not. (In fact, doing so would be highly toxic and is something you should never attempt.)
But for those of you who have always wanted a sunscreen that can both protect your skin and quench your thirst, there's now a product for that. It's called UVO, a sunscreen that you can drink.
Hold the gag reflex: UVO is not your typical sunscreen, filled with inedible chemicals. Rather, its ingredients include a medley of fruit juices and vitamins that are perfectly safe to consume — perhaps even quite healthy. It's basically an enhanced fruit drink. But UVO is not solely intended to be a substitute for your daily multivitamin; it's supposed to offer protection from the sun's UV rays. So can it actually work?
According to the product website, "UVO is the first liquid supplement that you drink to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays." Supposedly if you consume one 12-ounce bottle about 30 minutes before sun exposure, it will provide you with 3 to 5 hours of protection. The key to these claims are the ingredients, a smorgasbord of "vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants scientifically proven to protect the skin from the inside out."
The company's own clinical trials are the main source of proof cited for these claims. In those trials, 15 subjects were twice administered radiation with a UV emitting device, once without having consumed a bottle of UVO, and then a second time on a different area of skin approximately 1 hour after downing a bottle. According to their measurements, it took 40 percent more sun exposure to create a sunburn after people drank UVO.
It was a small trial, however, and not an independent one. And there is no SPF rating listed for the product. That's not surprising, since this clinical trial would not be adequate for establishing such a rating.
The main thrust of the science behind how this product purportedly works are studies which show that some oral antioxidants can provide protection from the sun's radiation. But even in these studies, the amount of SPF protection provided by the antioxidants is pretty minimal, maybe an SPF of 1 or 2 at most. That's hardly a viable replacement for your topical sunscreen.
Dermatologist Emanual Maverakis, who spoke to CBS about UVO, was skeptical about the product's effectiveness. “I would say the same thing that the Academy of Dermatology says. Oral supplements are not a replacement for your topical sunscreens,” he said.
It is also important to note that UVO is listed as a dietary supplement, and it is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Even so, given that UVO's list of ingredients is beneficial to one's health in general, it couldn't hurt to try it. While it shouldn't be used as a replacement for sunscreen, it could perhaps have some marginal benefit, if not as protection from the sun, then as a source for nutrients and hydration.
If you're interested, a bottle will put you short around $5.