“Ucuuba, Tamanu, and Aloe Vera Butter As A New Formulation to Enhance Bacterial Resistance And UV Protection” Blog Post

The research project that I have been working on over this summer encapsulates the world of cosmetic chemistry, specifically, I am studying how to generate various types of all natural antimicrobial surfaces through infusing exotic butters and various types of oils. An antimicrobial surface is an agent that has the potential to prevent the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria; concurrently in the lab, ultraviolet tests are done to determine if these surfaces will also provide resistance to UV light. For these experiments, the fixed variable is the type of base butter that is used- ucuuba butter, aloe vera butter, and tamanu butter- whereas different plant-based oils are combined with these butters to enhance the healing and protective characteristics of the butter. One of the reasons why the use of all natural ingredients is favorable in this project is due to the fact that the skin care industry, typically high-end companies, is straying away from chemical products. In general, natural skin products are earth-friendly, biodegradable, reduce any uncomfortable chemical irritation, nutrient-rich with natural fatty acids, and prevent adverse chemical imbalances. By the end of this project, it is anticipated that we will be able to provide a more natural means to sterile wound healing techniques and prevent harmful cancers caused by UV rays.

The methods of this project can be broken up into two parts: the protocol to generate the antimicrobial surfaces and the protocol for the UV radiation test.

To generate the antimicrobial surface, the individual kinds of butter used are initially liquefied through the use of a hot water bath. About 4 mL of each sample is aliquoted into a beaker and 2 mL of an essential oil is infused. The mixture is then plated in a petri dish and left to solidify at room temperature.

Using a tryptic soy agar plate, 0.8 cm plugs of agar were removed. 175 µL of each butter and oil sample was liquefied and placed in different agar holes, which were left to be hardened. 100 µL of 106 S. aureus was spread on the agar using a sterile spreader and each plate was left to incubate overnight at 37 °C. Antimicrobial activity was assessed based on if the zones of clearance were greater than 1 cm around each sample plug.

Following the creation of the surface, UV radiation tests are conducted. Each antimicrobial formulation is generated using the above procedure. A ziplock bag is filled with UV detecting color beads, and each antimicrobial surface is applied evenly over the bag. Each bag is then placed under UV radiation for about 20 seconds. Samples were then rated based on how drastic the color change in relation to a blank sample of individual kinds of butter and a comparative sunscreen.