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Spotlight On: Cerium Dioxide in Future Sunscreens?

Posted May 29 2009 10:03pm







Photo originally uploaded by livinginacity  (flickr) 

Cosmetics companies are always trying to develop the latest and greatest new ingredients to help improve the performance of their products.  One ingredient with potential to revolutionize the sunscreen industry is cerium dioxide (also known as cerium oxide).  Traditionally used for polishing glass, cerium dioxide is currently being developed with other chemicals (i.e., in combination with  silica, or with a turbostatic boron nitride coating ) to potentially provide additional scattering and reduced absorption of UV rays, like physical and chemical sunscreens, respectively.  According to the Journal of Solid State Chemistry, doped (i.e., in combination with certain other chemicals) cerium oxide provides excellent protection in the UV-visible light range in comparison with undoped cerium oxide.  Cerium dioxide also has been found in a study published in SCCJ to show higher physical UV protection than a micronized titanium dioxide particle.  Best of all, cerium dioxide was found to look “more natural” and “less visible” to wearers.

So what’s the catch?  As of yet, the safety profile of cerium dioxide (whether doped or undoped) in skin care has not been ascertained in peer-reviewed published scientific research.  However, previous concerns regarding potential radioactivity of cerium dioxide have been  linked to radioactive thorium contamination in unpurified cerium dioxide, not by cerium dioxide itself.  Even so, we may be waiting for a few years before we know the true efficacy of cerium dioxide, as well as its full safety profile, much less a revolutionary sunscreen.

I’ll keep on the lookout for new products with cerium dioxide!  In the meantime, please let me know your thoughts or if you have any news about cerium dioxide or sunscreens in general in comments below.  :-)

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