A revived publicity campaign is giving new life to a product that has actually been around for awhile: drinkable sunscreen, Osmosis Skincare’s UV-Canceling Water that claims a 30 SPF equivalent, but has experts skeptical. The cocktail is called UV Neutralizer Harmonized H2O, and the claim is that vibrational waves in the water isolate the “precise frequencies” needed for protection from UV rays. Harmonized H2O is getting some international attention for its claims.
Osmosis Skincare founder Dr. Ben Johnson says the product is made by manipulating the radio waves that occur naturally in water in order to give them UV-canceling properties, and then duplicating that same process hundreds of thousands of times. Then that water is packaged and priced at $30 for a 100 ml bottle. Johnson says once people drink the water those solar-ray-canceling characteristics are shared with the water already in the body, and sunlight is repelled at the skin level, with the sun neutralized before it actually hits. Johnson says sun-protecting rays are radiating at a 97 percent level.
Experts say they have no idea why this process would work. A statement from the British Association of Dermatologists said the formula is 100 percent water and that it is “complete nonsense” to suggest that drinking it could provide protection from the sun. Dr. Theresa R. Pacheco from the Department of Dermatology at the Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado also says that she does not know why this would work, and that there is no skin scientific framework for understanding it. Lack of scientific evidence that drinking UV-canceling water could provide sun protection at SPF 30 has medical experts skeptical that drinkable sunscreen is anything more than unsubstantiated pseudoscience.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not evaluated Osmosis Skincare’s claims. Johnson said this is because their SPF testing only applies to topical products, and Harmonized H2O is oral. Dr. David J. Leffel, a professor of dermatology and surgery at Yale School of Medicine says he is very familiar with the biology of the skin and ultraviolet radiation, and he would be “very suspicious” that is not scientifically validated. He also questions why anyone would want to take something affecting their whole system when they are dealing with something that is actually a “surface issue.”
Pacheco says since Harmonized H2O is sold as a cosmetic rather than traditional sunscreen, Osmosis Skincare does not have to adhere to FDA requirements for testing in order to claim an SPF rating, so the claims are marketing claims only. The product is not patented either, as Johnson says the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected it. Osmosis Skincare tested the product by having people consume the drinkable sunscreen, then apply topical sunblock to all exposed areas of the body except one limb. Then they sat in the sun and afterward the limb without traditional sunscreen was compared to the rest of the body. Based on results of the comparison, Johnson says they believe Harmonized H2O is testing at SPF 30 or higher.
The product comes in a tan-enhancing formula as well, which Johnson says works by increasing the activity of MSH, a hormone that soaks up sunlight safely while continuing to suppress melanin, the skin color-determining pigment. The claims are still not enough to convince experts that drinkable sunscreen can be either UV-canceling or provide SPF 30 protection. Dr. Eric Lavonas, of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, says he wishes an oral sunscreen existed, but he does not think it does and neither does the American Society of Dematology.
By Beth A. Balen