Toronto: Lignin, a natural material in plants and a major waste product of the paper industry, can be added to sunscreen creams to protect you from getting sunburn, says a new study. Most sunscreen products currently in the market contain synthetic compounds that help prevent ultraviolet rays from damaging skin. But consumers are searching for better product performance that comes from natural sources. This has led scientists to experiment with compounds from a variety of sources. According to the study published recently in the journal Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, Shiping Zhu from Canada's McMaster University and Qiu Xueqing of South China University of Technology found that out of five types of lignin tested, organosolv lignin improved the sun protection factor (SPF) of sunblock the most. Sunscreen containing just one percent of this compound doubled the lotion's original SPF -- it went from 15 to 30. A lotion with 10 percent organosolv lignin increased SPF even further, from 15 to almost 92, but excessive amounts of hydrophilic lignin such as lignosulfonate caused the product to start separating. The researchers said that although more work is needed to be done, the results represent a promising first step toward the development of lignin-containing sunscreen.