Slip, slop, suckle
We all know the damage that ultraviolet (UV) radiation can do to your skin. The â€œslip, slop, slapâ€ campaign in Australia has reminded everyone to cover up with clothes and put on sunscreen to have maximum protection. The thing is that some clothes offer more UV protection than others but now it seems that honeysuckle may be able to give clothing a UV boost.
Previous research has found that blue t-shirts offer more protection against UV light than other colours by reflecting more of the UV part of the spectrum. What though, if your colour isnâ€™t blue? Your fears of going through next summer looking pale and washed out in order to protect your skin may be alleviated if new research translates into commercial reality.
Growing in many gardens in Australia and around the world you will find a honeysuckle plant (Lonicera japonica). The berries of the plant are poisonous but the flowers have a delicious aroma and the flowers, leaves, and stems have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for a long time to treat colds and fever. Now a new use may have been found for honeysuckle.
There is continuous research into finding substances that will increase the UV resistance of fabrics. Natural substances will be better options in terms of sustainability and environmental impact which is why these researchers tested honeysuckle extract.
The researchers coated wool with an extract of honeysuckle and found that it blocked UV much more effectively than untreated wool. They found that the extract retained its effectiveness even after prolonged exposure to UV light and after repeated washing.
Exactly why wool was chosen as the fabric to test honeysuckleâ€™s UV protecting capacities remains a mystery. However, if you are someone who likes to sport retro-chic woollen beachware then this is outstanding news for you. For you bikini and boardies folk the verdict on honeysuckle and cotton remains to come in. In the meantime, until honeysuckle fortified clothing is commercially viable, perhaps you could bypass the clothing all together this summer and just turn up to the beach wreathed in honeysuckle. Just be sure to place the leaves judiciously.