Methylene Blue

Ingredient Spotlight


Research Shows Potential New Sunscreen is Coral-Safe and Provides UVB/UVA Protection


A recent study conducted by the University of Maryland and Mblue Labs is shining the light on the powers of one of the oldest synthetic substances in medicine, Methylene Blue. When tested for its ability to block harmful UVA and UVB rays, it excelled, absorbing the harmful rays and repairing damage to DNA. The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, also focused on the alternative sunscreen ingredient’s effect on coral reef, which is currently in severe condition throughout the world.

The deterioration of coral reefs links to several factors, one of which is exposure to Oxybenzone-rich sunscreens. These sunscreens seep into water easily when beachgoers slather them on to avoid sunburn and exposure to UV rays. Unfortunately, 80% of today’s sunscreen formulas incorporate Oxybenzone as a chemical UV-blocker, despite its effects on the world’s marine ecosystems. While several countries have stepped up and banned the use of sunscreens with Oxybenzone, it’s still a standard ingredient among several big names in the sunscreen industry.

Dr. Kan Cao, Founder of Mblue Labs and Bluelene Skincare, discussed the collaborative study and its findings. She claims that Methylene Blue “…shows a broad-spectrum absorption of both UVA and UVB rays, promotes DNA damage repair, combats reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by UVA, and most importantly, poses no harm to coral reefs.” The study looked at both old and young fibroblasts, comparing their protection and repair with Methylene Blue and Oxybenzone. It also tested Xenia, a soft coral species, when exposed to different doses of both Methylene Blue and Oxybenzone.

“While several countries have stepped up and banned the use of sunscreens with Oxybenzone, it’s still a standard ingredient among several big names in the sunscreen industry.”

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Keeping the same species of coral reef in isolated tanks under the same light and temperature conditions, researchers observed significant differences in response to each chemical. When using Methylene Blue, the health of exposed coral reefs was not affected, even when researchers upped the dosage to a high molar concentration (1µm). Coral reef exposed to Oxybenzone responded with bleaching and death in less than a week.

In both young and old fibroblasts, exposure to Methylene Blue showed signs of proliferation and cell repair. In addition, Methylene Blue, when compared to Vitamin A and C, shows considerable antioxidant characteristics. Dr. Coa shared, “we found that the combination of Methylene Blue and Vitamin C could deliver amazing anti-aging effects, particularly in skin cells from older donors, suggesting a strong synergistic reaction between these two beneficial antioxidants.”

Their groundbreaking discoveries led them to patent their idea, applying for permission to start testing sunscreen prototypes. Additionally, their findings of the powerful combination of Methylene Blue and Vitamin C led to the development of their first skincare product, Blueline’s Night +, which promises to deliver a fusion of Methylene and Vitamin C for optimal anti-aging effects.

The study, “Ultraviolet radiation protection potentials of Methylene Blue for human skin and coral reef health,” was published on May 28, 2021, accessible to anyone who would like more information about the study and findings. The study was made possible with help from the Small Business Technology Transfer Grant (Grant: 1842745) and supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).