By now, we all know conventional sunscreens are full of crap– literally.
Even the more “natural” ones aren’t serving us. While they may be slightly less toxic, they do nothing for our skin or health.
All sunscreens hyperfocus on releasing or reflecting sunlight and completely ignore how it benefits our cells.
Sun exposure is foundational for a healthy mind, body, and soul. But it’s no secret that too much sun can lead to oxidation and long-term damage.
So what’s the solution?
How can we enjoy the metabolic benefits of the sun while minimizing risk?
Enter methylene blue.
This mysterious blue dye could be the ultimate bioenergetic suncare tool we’ve been searching for.
And it’s been right under our noses for nearly 150 years.
Let’s explore how methylene blue works with the sun to support skin integrity, repair oxidative damage, and even delay aging. Can your sunscreen do that?
What exactly is methylene blue? Where does it come from?
This therapeutic compound started as a colorful accident.
It was first formed by a German chemist named Heinrich Caro in 1876. He was trying to create a synthetic dye from zinc salts for the textile industry. (1)
The result was a bright greenish-blue compound that successfully changed the color of cotton fabrics.
But it gets better…
Researchers began using the stain to view cells and microbes more easily under a microscope.
Things got really interesting when Paul Ehrlich, another German scientist, used it to study malaria-causing parasites and realized it was actually killing them. Quite the “aha!” moment. (2)
Since then, it’s been shown to be one of the most effective drugs to inhibit the spread of all kinds of infections.
There are thousands of studies confirming its therapeutic efficacy. So why isn't it more mainstream?
The short answer? Money.
It’s cheap and widely available, which means it won’t fatten big pharma’s pockets. So they threw it on the back burner.
This highly underrated compound is finally getting the press it deserves. We can no longer ignore its metabolic and antioxidant benefits.
How does methylene blue help the body?
It's hard to imagine something that started as a dye for blue jeans could actually be good for you.
But it’s true!
When applied to a fabric, methylene blue quickly reacts with the fibers through hydrogen bonding and electrostatic interactions.
These are the same mechanisms that make it so beneficial for our cells when ingested or applied topically. (3)
Methylene blue is such a powerful antioxidant because it acts as an electron donor to balance oxygen levels in the blood while inducing hydrogen peroxide in the mitochondria to trigger antioxidant gene expression. (4)
Translation? It promotes healthy energy production in the cells while simultaneously fending off oxidative stress. The best of both worlds.
This positive chain reaction can result in
- A revved-up metabolic rate
- Improved mental clarity and focus
- Less attention deficit
- Protection against neurological disease and decline
- Boosted energy levels
- Strengthened immunity
- Balanced stress response
- Healthy blood pressure
- Increased thyroid hormones
- Less bacterial overgrowth and better digestion
Its supportive effects on the cells make it beneficial to pretty much every system in the body– especially the skin.
How does methylene blue help the skin?
Remember the fountain of youth? Maybe it wasn’t a myth after all.
Cellular biologists are finding that methylene blue has the potential to reverse physical signs of aging on the skin.
Methylene blue significantly reduced overall oxidative stress and DNA damage when applied to skin fibroblasts and keratinocytes from middle-aged participants. (5)
And healthier cells mean younger-looking skin.
Age-defying benefits of topical methylene blue for skin:
- Enhanced viability– MB defends the skin cells against damaging free radicals known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) that lead to wrinkling and cell death.
- Increased hydration– better cellular energy metabolism allows keratin cells to more easily hold onto water and naturally stay moisturized.
- Accelerated wound healing– the antibacterial factors of MB and increased oxygen help with tissue repair and renewal.
- Decreased inflammation– MB calms redness, swelling, and irritation associated with acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis. (6)
- Increased dermis thickness– MB’s protective effect on cellular signaling promotes healthy skin proliferation and regeneration.
- Improved firmness and texture– MB prevents free radical damage and facilitates collagen synthesis to improve and maintain skin elasticity.
Unlike conventional treatments, methylene blue directly supports skin cells to encourage lasting anti-aging benefits.
Methylene blue blows sunscreen out of the water (a healthy sunscreen alternative).
Most chemical sunscreens contain toxic actives like oxybenzone, homosalate, and avobenzone that absorb and release UV rays. Unfortunately, these ingredients are known to dysregulate hormones and even damage healthy cells.
And mineral sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide physically “block” the light from penetrating the skin altogether.
Neither is ideal because they don’t strengthen the skin's own defense against UV radiation or repair DNA damage.
This is what makes methylene blue so unique. It defends and repairs– at the same time.
Not only does methylene blue absorb UV radiation better than oxybenzone, but it also actively repairs DNA sun damage that causes skin aging and disease.
It’s even shown to be more beneficial when combined with red light (like in sunlight). (7)(8)
Making it the only suncare ingredient out there that actually works with the sun.
Did we mention it's non-endocrine disrupting and reef-safe?
Oxybenzone is notorious for wreaking havoc on coral reefs. Probably a sign that it’s bad for us, too.
Recent studies reveal that methylene blue, on the other hand, poses no threat to aquatic life– in fact, it helps it.
People often use methylene blue to disinfect aquariums and treat diseases in fish. (9)
Isn’t it funny how nature always shows us the way?
How to use methylene blue (the right way).
There are a few different ways to incorporate methylene blue into your wellness routine.
It can be ingested in powder, liquid, or capsule form. But it can also be applied topically.
It easily penetrates all three layers of the skin, including the inside of the skin cell– where it really works its magic.
** Though it's important to note that methylene blue is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone taking SSRIs, or folks who are allergic to methylene blue.
This is a powerful therapeutic compound that should be wielded as such.
And as with anything else, self-experimentation is key to finding what works for you and your biology.
Does methylene blue stain skin?
After all, this stuff did get its start as a textile dye.
Applying straight methylene blue at full concentration will absolutely stain your skin– and probably everything you touch.
If you don’t want smurf skin, it’s a good idea to dilute it first. Though, overdoing it could lower its effectiveness. There’s a sweet spot.
It’s also much more likely to stain flaky, dry, dead skin. Regular exfoliation with a sugar scrub or dry brushing will minimize your chance of discoloration.
Applying a rich moisturizer high in saturated fatty acids and skin-supportive vitamins and minerals will also boost absorption and prevent staining.
Fatskn Pre-Sun is a protective blend of methylene blue, tallow, jojoba oil, vitamin E, non-oxidizing vitamin C, beeswax, and a touch of vanilla oleoresin (for a soft summery scent).
There’s just enough of the blue stuff to be effective without staining your skin.
Not only do you get the bioenergetic benefits of methylene blue, but you also get the nourishing effects of saturated fats and other antioxidants to keep your skin healthy and glowy all summer long.
Because we think suncare should do more than just block the sun or mess with your hormones. Don’t you?
As always, while we hope to be a no-nonsense resource, we encourage you to do your own research to find the healthiest options for you and your family.
You can check out our collection of good-for-you, tallow-based skincare products by clicking the link below. We hope to see you there!
- Kovi, Ravishanker, et al. Improved Process for the Purification of Methylene Blue. patents.google.com/patent/EP3795565A1/en. Accessed 13 May 2023. https://patents.google.com/patent/EP3795565A1/en
- Schwarcz, Joe. “The Right Chemistry: Methylene Blue Shakes up the Medical World.” Montrealgazette, 12 Aug. 2016, montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/the-right-chemistry-methylene-blue-shakes-up-the-medical-world. Accessed 13 May 2023. https://montrealgazette.com/opinion/columnists/the-right-chemistry-methylene-blue-shakes-up-the-medical-world
- Nedu ME, Tertis M, Cristea C, Georgescu AV. Comparative Study Regarding the Properties of Methylene Blue and Proflavine and Their Optimal Concentrations for In Vitro and In Vivo Applications. Diagnostics (Basel). 2020 Apr 15;10(4):223. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics10040223. PMID: 32326607; PMCID: PMC7235860. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7235860/
- Gonzalez-Lima F, Auchter A. Protection against neurodegeneration with low-dose methylene blue and near-infrared light. Front Cell Neurosci. 2015 May 12;9:179. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00179. PMID: 26029050; PMCID: PMC4428125. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428125/#:~:text=Methylene%20blue%20as%20electron%20donor,auto%20oxidizing%20redox%20chemical%20property
- Xiong ZM, O'Donovan M, Sun L, Choi JY, Ren M, Cao K. Anti-Aging Potentials of Methylene Blue for Human Skin Longevity. Sci Rep. 2017 May 30;7(1):2475. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02419-3. PMID: 28559565; PMCID: PMC5449383. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449383/
- “Healing with Methylene Blue/Gentian Violet.” Hmpgloballearningnetwork.com, Aug. 2019, www.hmpgloballearningnetwork.com/site/wmp/article/healing-methylene-bluegentian-violet.
- Gonzalez-Lima F, Auchter A. Protection against neurodegeneration with low-dose methylene blue and near-infrared light. Front Cell Neurosci. 2015 May 12;9:179. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00179. PMID: 26029050; PMCID: PMC4428125. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428125/
- “Methylene Blue and Red Light Therapy for Dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s Disease – MWHP.” Midwest Health Parnters, P.C., 21 Nov. 2022, www.mwhp.com/methylene-blue-and-red-light-therapy-for-dementia-parkinsons-and-alzheimers-disease/
- Xiong, ZM., Mao, X., Trappio, M. et al. Ultraviolet radiation protection potentials of Methylene Blue for human skin and coral reef health. Sci Rep 11, 10871 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-89970-2