Photo: Courtesy of Ocean Potion

The next time you SPF up, you could be making mom proud by getting a dose of vitamins too.

At least that's what a new trend in the skincare industry would have you believe.

Due out in drugstores in a couple weeks, Ocean Potion's new paraben-free and Skin Cancer Foundation-approved Vitamin D Sunscreen claims to provide one half of your daily recommended allowance of Vitamin D3 – which helps protect the body against bone breaks, heart disease and diabetes.

Increasingly, more Americans are becoming deficient in Vitamin D – a nutrient absorbed through sun rays – due to increased skin cancer and anti-aging awareness, and the more vigilant sunscreen use and sun bathing practices that has come with it.

Until Ocean Potion's launch, any sunscreen with an SPF 8 or above blocked the skin's absorption of Vitamin D from the sun.

"While even casual exposure from dangerous UV radiation can lead to melanoma – the fastest growing cancer in the U.S. – some physicians have recommended unprotected exposure to insure intake of this important vitamin. It's our hope that this innovation will provide consumers with the necessary choice to protect skin at all times," says Leslie Anstey, Vice President of Marketing for Ocean Potion.

So how do we know if this stuff actually works?

"Having never read anything about absorbing Vitamin D through the skin, I'd need to see some studies proving this sunscreen can deliver. The sun causes a reaction in the skin that turns a metabolic precursor of Vitamin D into the form we need – it doesn't actually make the vitamin penetrate the skin," says St. Ives consulting dermatologist Dr. Marsha Gordon.

Ocean Potion says their patent-pending product works differently than the way Vitamin D is stimulated by sun rays.

"The patent pending formula will work much the same as oral supplementation, but the vitamin benefit will be absorbed through the skin. In layman's terms, we're using Vitamin D3 which is extracted from sheep lanolin. The vitamin in oil form is incorporated into our lotions and diffused through the skin to supplement the body's need for this vitamin," says Anstey.

Yet-to-be-completed scientific tests show that absorption is present, though results may vary depending on the thickness of skin -- but Anstey adds, "Our claim to render a supplementary application of 200 IUs per 1 oz of product will be met."

And while The Skin Cancer Foundation doesn't comment on products aside from sunscreen efficacy - which the Ocean Potion lotion has the organization's stamp of approval for - they do have advice for consumers on how to best get your Vitamin D.

Photo: Courtesy of CellCeuticals



"The Skin Care Foundation's position is that the safest and recommended way to obtain adequate vitamin D is through a combination of diet and Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D can be obtained from oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) and cod liver oil as well as from fortified juice and milk, yogurts, and some cereals such as Kashi, Grape Nuts and Total," said the organization in a release.

Tanning beds have long been advertised, by pro-tanning groups as an easy way to get vitamin D through light rays, though not without controversy. Just last month, the Federal Trade Commission charged The Indoor Tanning Association with making false safety claims.

"That's what they would like you to believe. UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds is a proven human carcinogen and is responsible for DNA damage that can result in skin cancer as well as depressed immunity and photoaging. The limited benefits of exposure to UVB radiation cannot be separated from the harmful effects," said The Skin Cancer Foundation in a statement.

Meanwhile, CellCeuticals is launching a Vitamin D-enriched facial sunscreen moisturizer at the same time - though the company is "definitely not" claiming that their formulation of the vitamin will be absorbed through the skin like a supplement.

"The reason why we include Vitamin D in PhotoDefense is with all antioxidants, Vitamin D exhibits the capacity to decrease aspects of skin aging and help regulate cellular activity. Vitamin D is used to reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin," co-founder of CellCeuticals Dr. Garth Fisher tells Stylelist.

In other words, it's all about the pretty.

So what's a confused consumer to do? Make sure all your bases are covered.

"My advice is to protect our skin from the sun, which clearly causes skin cancer and photoaging – and just be sure we take adequate oral vitamins. For some people, that means dairy, Vitamin D supplemented soy milk and foods like salmon and sardines. For others, it means taking a vitamin supplement," adds. Dr. Gordon.

Now that's advice we think mom would agree with.