Is red sandalwood an effective sunscreen?

Firoza asks…I often find producers of “herbal” or “ayurvedic” cosmetics selling sunscreens containing red sandalwood as the active ingredient. They rate these sunscreens as SPF 50 or higher. Does red sandalwood actually have any sun blocking properties?

The Beauty Brains respondSantalum_album_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-128

Red Sandalwood may have certain medicinal properties when applied topically (see link ) but it is not approved for use as a sunscreen. Any products using this as the “active” sunscreen ingredient would be illegal drugs in the U.S. (and several other countries.)

Red Sandalwood + Sunscreen

I did a quick check on this ingredient and found that it’s used in a brand called Biotique. I couldn’t find a complete ingredient list for this product but I did find this statement on a website selling the product:

“This nutrient-rich cream is blended with pure sandalwood, saffron, wheat germ, honey and bark of the arjun tree to keep skin soft, fair and moisturized. Protects skin with broad spectrum SPF 50 UVA/UVB sunscreen. Very water resistant, retains SPF after 80 minutes in the water.”

So, it looks like the product contains red sandalwood but actually protects skin using a broad spectrum SPF 50 UVA/UVB sunscreen. I think this is a classic case of the company implying that the product works because of the natural ingredient but it actually contains chemical sunscreens like most other products.

If anyone can find a complete list of ingredients for this, or similar, products let me know and I’ll review it to determine exactly what chemical is providing the sunscreen efficacy.