Heliocare, an over-the-counter sunscreen pill, is now available. Approved by the FDA for added sun protection, it contains the Polypodium Leucotomos (calaguala) leaf extract as the active ingredient. The pill is taken once a day to build the body’s natural defence against harmful UV rays and subsequent photoaging.
Although Heliocare is an ingestible sunscreen, it in no way replaces sunscreen or protective clothing. Neither does it reverse sun damage.
These sunscreen tablets starts to work about half an hour after taking the dose. This sunscreen in pill form is ideal for situations when you are on medication that makes you sensitive to the sun or if you are traveling to a sunny place.
Another type of sunscreen pill made from coral could be available soon. Researchers are currently studying the Acropora coral at the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. They hope to figure out what chemical compounds help coral ward off the sun, then replicating synthetically for use in a sunscreen pill. However, scientists do not expect such a sunscreen pill to be available off-the-shelf till another five years down the road.
Researchers are also working on a melanin-increasing implant called Scenesse, which is in trial and would help people block UV rays as well. It is hoped that the melanin-increasing implant would increase the melanin in our skin.
Researchers hope that the sunscreen pill and melanin-increasing implants would serve as alternatives to external sunscreens, and enable the human body to block UV rays on its own.