Would You Drink This Sweet, New Sunscreen? Yes, We Said Drink.

Would You Drink This Sweet, New Sunscreen? Yes, We Said Drink.
Image credit: UVO

Updated on Sept. 25, 2015.

Bottoms up. Sunscreen shots for all. No more messing around with lotions and sprays.  

Why would you grease yourself up with icky, sticky sunblock when you could drink your sun protection instead? That’s the main selling point behind a new drinkable SPF-like product called UVO.

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Its makers claim the substance is “the first liquid supplement that you drink to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet [UV] rays.” They say drinking one 12-ounce bottle fends off sun damage, like sunburn and photoaging, for three to five hours, depending on how dark or light your skin is.

Better drink up, fair ones. Well, maybe.    

The entrepreneur behind the drinkable sunscreen is Dr. Bobby Awadalla, 34, a dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon who practices in sunny, upscale Newport Beach, Calif. The idea came to him when he noticed a man in workout clothes slamming an energy drink at a cafe, he told the The Orange County Register last month.

“If we can make skin care as easy and delicious as drinking a Red Bull, I thought, people would use it more,” he said. “People resist putting cream on their skin because they don’t like the greasy feel and smell. Athletes don’t like sunscreen dripping in their eyes.”

Neither do we and, uh, we’re not particularly athletic. Does anyone?

Related: Study: Regularly Drinking Coffee May Reduce Skin Cancer Risk

The stuff doesn’t sound so bad in terms of taste and overall nutritional value. Per the label on the plastic bottle, it’s mainly flavored with orange and peach juice concentrates. Branded as a dietary supplement and therefore not requiring FDA approval, UVO doesn’t contain a single ingredient found in traditional sunscreen lotions and sprays. Phew, all those harmful components you wouldn’t dare put in your mouth not included. 

Instead, it’s infused with 30-plus antioxidants, phytonutrients and vitamins. That’s where the supposed sunscreen power comes in. Awadalla claims UVO’s “synergistic formula” of nutrients is “scientifically proven to protect the skin from the inside out.”  

The proof, he says, mainly lies in the results of UVO’s own clinical trials. (There’s also this compelling medical paper.) During the three month-long trials, 15 participants were subject to radiation via a UVA and UVB-discharging device, once without first drinking a single dose of UVO and once an hour after drinking it. Researchers concluded that it took 40 percent more sun exposure for trial participants to get a sunburn after downing the special drink.

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Still, the American Academy of Dermatology, of which Awadalla is currently a member, states that the "drink should not be used as a replacement for sunscreen or for sun-protective clothing."

Bottom line: UVO isn’t potent enough to use alone, not without a supplement sunscreen slathering. Even Awadalla freely admits that. He suggests that people who drink his product also load up on additional sun barriers, like sun-protective clothing, umbrellas and, sorry squeamish suntan lotion haters, even the sticky stuff -- topical sunscreen. Consider Awadalla’s cocktail an added layer of protection.

Thinking about giving UVO a shot? If you’re in Southern California, you can find it at several surf shops, golf courses and pharmacies scattered across Orange County. It’s also available for purchase through UVO’s website. Be ready to feel the burn on your wallet. One bottle will set you back $5 a pop.

Related: This Smart Skin-Scanning App Could Save Your Life

Edition: October 2016

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