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While the industry and general public are highly educated about the dangers associated with excessive exposure to sunlight, especially the UVA and UVB wavelengths, findings in recent years reveal that the full spectrum of benefits and harm related to sun exposure are yet to be explored. One of the more striking recent discoveries is that while UVA and UVB are indeed responsible for skin damage, high energy visible (HEV) light, i.e. in the violet and blue range, may cause as much damage as UVA and UVB combined.1–4 However, developing a compound to shield the skin by the selective filtration of violet and blue light presents challenges in molecular design as well as formulation because an effective compound must exhibit color.
UV absorbers in skin care formulas do not impart color because the retina does not respond to the range of photon energies they absorb. However, since HEV absorbers selectively reduce, for example, violet and blue light from the visible spectrum, the eye perceives this as a change in color as the remaining spectrum is expressed; in this case, it appears brown or yellow-brown.
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