By Elsabda Siratan, Sisilia Kordayanti, Gabriella Regina Alexandra Prasetya, Erlina Febriani, and Cynthia Valentina Chandra

In tropical countries like Indonesia, human skin has a potential for experiencing immense exposure to sunlight radiation every day. This prolong exposure may lead to premature skin aging due to UV-A contained in sunlight. Through research, cosmetic with a rich source of MAA (Mycosporine-like Amino Acids) is a good tool to delay skin aging because MAA can absorb UV-A from getting inside our skin (dermis). This water-soluble substance usually found in marine organisms, such as algae. In this case, the algae species named Porphyra umbilicalis (red algae).

Sun radiates different types of electromagnetic waves, including ultraviolet (UV) rays that can affect human skin. Based on the wavelength, there are three types of UV rays: UV-A, has the longest wavelengths (315–400 nm) but has the least energy, while UV-C has the shortest wavelengths (100–280 nm) with the highest energy, and UV-B falling in between (320-400 nm). Each component of UV can affect human body differently. UV-B radiation can cause sunburn on human skin due to lack of melanin on the upper dermis, whilst UV-A radiation can penetrate deeper part of the dermis. Unlike UV-B, UV-A causes immediate tanning and premature skin aging.

However due to global warming, there is an increase of UV-light radiation on earth as a result of depletion in the ozone layer. Even though UV-C light cannot reach the earth due to absorption of atmospheric ozone and oxygen gas, UV-A and UV-B are able to enter our planet much more easier, therefore, causing problems in human skin, varying from sunburn to skin cancer. One of the problems is premature skin aging, which is induced by UV-A radiation.

Nevertheless, scientists found a substance, contained in Rhodophyta (red algae) and many other marine invertebrates including cyanobacteria, fungi, yeast, coral, and so on that provides protection for the organisms against UV light radiation by absorbing the UV-A. This substance is called Mycosporine-like Amino Acid (MAA). This molecule is water-soluble and secondary metabolites that can absorb UV light radiation with absorbance between 310 and 360 nm. Most marine organisms lived in intertidal and epipelagic zones are having the highest level exposure of UV light radiation. The mechanism works as antioxidants and repair system for their DNA due to UV-A radiation.


The preparation for the cream contain MAA extract (dosage 0.005%) was prepared from the extraction of dried Porphyra umbilicalis in water and then went through ultrafiltration and ion exchange chromatography. Later, the encapsulation of the extract with liposome was by mixing with lecithin by high-pressure homogenization. The test product was applied twice, once a day for 28 days on the inner side of the forearm of 20 women in the age around 36 – 54.

After then, irradiated two times per week with UV-A light. The parameters in this test were skin firmness, smoothness, and hydration (dry or moisture skin).


After 4 weeks, there are significant differences between normal skin and skin with MAA cream. Through the studies result, it is concluded that MAA really improve skin properties such as the firmness, smoothness, and skin moisture.


In conclusion, MAA has better ability to protect skin from UV-A radiation. It is proven by the increase in the skin smoothness and firmness only with small amount of dosage, 0.005 % MAA concentration. However, further studies need to be conducted such as the reaction between MAA and other cream ingredients; The appropriate dosage of MAA for various skin types; and so forth are needed to find out more. And before commercialize, a pre-clinical test must be done to ensure the safety of the product.