• Núria Estapé, science journalist

    Caffeine for the skin

    The beauty industry has appropriated the active ingredient of our most universal breakfast drink. Caffeine, the alkaloid that wakes us up by stimulating the nervous system, also has beneficial properties for the skin. It appears that it reduces cellulite, increases blood circulation in the small blood vessels that nourish the skin, prevents skin cancers and even promotes hair growth in men.


    Caffeine is being included in formulas for body creams, hair lotions and other cosmetic preparations. Most of these products contain just 3% of this substance. Its chemical characteristics (it dissolves in water but not in oil) make its application in cosmetics difficult, because, in its free form, it penetrates poorly to the interior of the epidermis. But thanks to modern emulsions and microspheres for delivering substances and facilitating penetration, caffeine is now used as a key skincare ingredient. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Sun damage continues after dark

    31 May Sun damage continues after dark



    Scientific American

    It may take a few hours for you to realise that you got sunburned while sunbathing. Similarly, the mutations that ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause in DNA and that lead to the dreaded skin cancer continue for several hours after you’ve left the beach or the mountains and the sun has gone down.


    Researchers at Yale University – led by Douglas E. Brash, a professor of radiology and dermatology – have published a study in Science that demonstrates that melanin, the pigment that darkens the skin to protect it from harm inflicted by UV rays, also has its downside. Certain components of this pigment are involved in the onset of DNA lesions that can cause the mutations responsible for melanoma – which continue for up to four hours after sun exposure has ended. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Queen Letizia: against the sun

    21 Mar Queen Letizia: against the sun

    She acknowledges having stupidly sunbathed without protection, like almost anyone else. But she also says she’s learned her lesson. Queen Letizia of Spain, inaugurating the 1st International Symposium on Cancers of the Skin, held in Madrid last January, insisted that "we don’t need to get burned to get a good tan."


    The data prove her right. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cases of skin cancer triple each decade. Skin cancer annually affects about 160,000 people worldwide; in Spain, incidence has increased 38% over the past four years. The sun takes its toll on the skin. In her talk the Queen very much emphasized this; avoiding excessive and uncontrolled exposure to the sun is key to preventing skin cancer, she said. Read More

  • Fede Montagud, editor

    Aircraft cabins and UVA rays

    25 Feb Aircraft cabins and UVA rays



    JAMA Dermatology

    UVB rays are partially filtered by glass in windows and windscreens, but not UVA rays — and likewise with the glass in airplanes. Except that the altitude at which most commercial aircraft fly (30,000 feet) aggravates this problem further. Cabin crew, most especially pilots, are therefore at a high risk of developing skin cancer.


    Martina Sanlorenzo, a researcher at the University of California, recently authored a study that compared radiation in aircraft cabins with that in tanning beds. She found that about 55 minutes flying at over 30,000 feet was equivalent to 20 minutes in a tanning bed. Contrasting her data with other studies, Sanlorenzo and her team calculated that pilots and cabin crew were up to 2.22 times more likely to develop skin cancer. Read More